The shot above is a beauty, isn’t it? Incorporating rain, fog, and smoke, yet looking like a million bucks. Unlike the splendid trailers, shots like that are few and far between in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a visually murky step-down from 2014’s atmospheric reboot. I won’t speak of thin characters or cliched family dynamics involving a tired divorce and a sweet daughter caught between parents. People don’t watch Godzilla movies for dumb ass humans, they watch ’em for things going BOOM and giant monsters going KABLAM. Godzilla or Mothra coming to the rescue are certainly rousing moments, and the film itself is occasionally quite fun. It’s unfortunate then that between moments of deus ex machina, intended for maximum applause, there’s very little to cheer about or even appreciate on that level. This is primarily due to photography so murky and so drowned in digital excess that some of it is nearly indecipherable. King of the Monsters is a surprisingly ugly film, a would-be blockbuster that doesn’t deliver on the one thing all of the superb trailers were selling us on again and again: beauty. There are rare “butterflies” such as Mothra spreading her wings or Godzilla firing into the sky as seen above, however, most of what you see is numbing, poorly lit action amid rain, snow, and smog, all set to a bombastic score. It’s a testament to how much my own heart swelled watching Godzilla and co. rip apart their alpha rivals that King is as entertaining as it is, because the big, green lug and his symbiotic fly in the sky don’t get much help from the humans, both in front of and behind the camera.
P.S. I’ll give the homo sapiens this: Ken Watanabe can sell any line of dialogue, and I never tire of watching Charles Dance chew up scenery as a magnificent bastard