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GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

Two hours wasted: that’s how I feel after watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This bloated production starts out as an enjoyably tacky monster movie but doesn’t know when to quit. Every pseudo-scientific explanation (and there are plenty) has a counter-explanation in order to keep the story going…and every apparent climax leads to another climax. There’s even a post-credits scene, as if we needed one. We don’t.

As for the story, suffice it to say that forces have awakened Mothra. When soldiers foolishly fire on it, a two-hour chain reaction is set into motion around the globe that threatens to wipe out humanity. The monsters involved—here called Titans—all happen to be owned by Japan’s Toho movie studio: Godzilla, Ghidorah (also referred to as Monster Zero), Mothra, and Rodan.

Can there be too much of a good thing? I’d submit this film as evidence that the answer is “yes.” By the end of the picture when the monsters are busy battling each other the effect is remote and not scary. A 10-year-old might feel different but I somehow doubt it. The overall effect is numbing.

Along the way there are uninteresting human characters: a scientist (Vera Farmiga) who lost her son to Godzilla and isn’t about to let that happen again, her husband (Kyle Chandler) who’s been exorcizing his grief by leaving the family behind, and their adolescent daughter (Millie Bobby Brown), who is torn between them. There are also a number of eggheads and authority figures played by such estimable actors as Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., David Strathairn, and a menacing Charles Dance. Whitford stands out from the crowd because he gets to deliver a steady stream of wisecracks, all of them welcome.

I was never an aficionado of Japanese monster movies, but this overstuffed turkey makes me long for the original imports I saw as a kid. Godzilla (or Gojira, as he was known in his native country) was played by an actor in a rubber suit and the special effects were primitive at best. Yet those films were fun to watch; they had no pretensions and were mercifully short. Gone are the days…

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