One of the scientists in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” makes a blanket proclamation to her fellow humans, at a particular point of no return: “Take refuge,” if possible.
Well, gee, thanks a lot. That’s going to beef up morale, if not actually help the situation of millions of people once again menaced by giant monsters.
Godzilla, re-awakened in his current computer-generated incarnation in the 2014 film, gets jostled out of his slumber once again. This time, a score of MUTOs (perhaps you remember the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms from the previous movie) emerge, although they are also called “Titans,” which indicates we have a little branding problem in the Monster-verse.
The Titans will be fondly recalled by certain audience members as good old pals from Saturday-afternoon creature features, including Mothra and Rodan. Godzilla’s main adversary here is King Ghidorah, the three-headed flying dragon, whose motivation remains unclear except, you know, to destroy the planet.
The human motivations are much more nonsensical, having to do mostly with an estranged scientist couple (Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler) with opposing views on the whole awakening-the-titans argument.
They have a daughter, played by “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown, who does most of the looking-skyward-in-wonder reaction shots. Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister in “Game of Thrones”) plays an “eco-terrorist” whose plot to wipe out most of humanity begins to seem fairly reasonable as the film goes on.
Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe return from the 2014 film to provide monster expertise, although in movies like this the expertise usually comes down to people deciding the right time to haul out the nuclear weapons. New to the group are Zhang Ziyi and “Get Out” dad Bradley Whitford, the latter playing the designated Wisecracking Scientist, keeping the one-liners going even in the face of the planet’s destruction.
His lines are the only dialogue in the film that doesn’t sound as though it’s been poorly translated from Japanese. Director Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”) clearly loves his horror-movie mythology, and scatters the inside references with aplomb, but he’s got a tin ear.
The big monster fights have some wonderfully crazy moments, especially played against Bear McCreary’s muscular musical score. But the overall lack of any compelling storyline — or any reason to care about the people onscreen — made me start to squirm around the halfway point of this 131-minute movie.
Godzilla may be the king of the monsters now, but there’s still one showdown left, as established in 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island.” Godzilla will meet King Kong at a theater near you next March, unless humanity is wiped out in the meantime.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2 stars)
The monster fights have some wonderfully crazy moments, but otherwise tedium reigns, especially when the human characters are talking. Godzilla is joined by his old pals Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidora, as an “eco-terrorist” plots the destruction of humanity. With Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler.
Rating: PG-13, for violence
Opening: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Seattle 10, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza