Quick Reviews: 'Godzilla: King Of The Monsters', 'Stuber' | Kaiju, Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
One of the bigger complaints about the 2014’s ‘Godzilla’ was that in the vein of something like ‘Jaws’, it built up for a while until making the monster visible so obviously some folks wanted to see more Godzilla. While I wasn’t one of those and was actually very pleased with how it was executed, I can understand why in this 2019 sequel, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, they just showcase every kaiju as much as they possibly can. Godzilla himself is back in all of his size but there are also a bunch of others that awaken. They are all involved in the best parts of the film but sadly all of the even mildly interesting human parts are replaced by pure dumpster fire.
In the first film what I found to be commendable was that the line between locations and coloured screen VFX was more blurred than often is the case. In ‘Monsters’ though it is mostly visual effects artists doing the heavy lifting since nothing feels to be at stake here. All the monster movement and fights look simply incredible to the point that I almost got lost in momentary bliss. Even when the establishing shots are dark and lack the human-to-kaiju-or-building scale that the first movie wonderfully showed, the destroying and breaking stuff are fun. All the kaijus are anchored by their own glorious sound work, whenever Godzilla roars or stomps you do feel it in your skin.
Most people both behind the camera and in front changed between films so there is a big separation between them which leads to the biggest problems. Anything and everything to do with humans is a miss as director Michael Dougherty never seems to be in control. The family we followed in the first was alright but here the new one featuring Kyle Chandler (dad Mark), Vera Farmiga (mom Emma) and Millie Bobby Brown (daughter Madison) are written to be basically NPCs in a video game while Chandler and Farmiga are truly awful in their roles. All of them seem to lack any sort of direction from Dougherty as Brown is basically left staring into space to the best of her abilities. Besides them basically all the female characters in the film are treated to be expendable while the male characters exist just to tell the viewer about a technological aspect used to follow the monsters, all of the dialogue is unimaginative.
Smileys: VFX, sound design
Frowneys: Acting, directing, dialogue
Fast forward to the parts with the creatures and you’ll walk out satisfied.
Dude’s name is Stu and he drives an Uber (hence Stuber) as his second job and runs into a detective, Vic, who is emotionally broken as well as angry. Congratulations, you’ve won a brand new movie! And not just any kind of movie, but a buddy cop comedy that is for adults so you’ll get plenty of blood too. Since Stu is played by the comedically talented Kumail Nanjiani while Vic is portrayed by the ever-evolving Dave Bautista, you’d expect that there would be a lot more effort driving it to be memorable. That isn’t the case though as the film barely gets the engine going when other comedies are already reaching their top speed and therefore struggles to reach its destination.
Led by the two leads who are genuinely giving their best effort in every single scene, the whole cast couldn’t be more wasted here. Actors like Natalie Morales (as Vic’s daughter Nicole), Jimmy Tatro (Stu’s boss Richie) and Rene Moran (Amo Cortez) are following the playbook of action comedies to a T, playing the stereotypical characters just the right way. Nanjiani and Bautista display incredible chemistry at times so at the end you can’t help but feel like the writer and director Michael Dowse are pulling a prank on them. Furthermore, the uninspired stunt choreography feels way too cheesy and poorly planned to make the action sequences cover up for the material in hand.
And you really can’t underline how majorly disappointing Stuber’s script actually is. Most of the jokes offered are really the equivalent of pointing at something and making a lazy pop culture reference after, the problem really being that it’s the only kind of joke available here as it gets recycled time and time again. Character beats are equally bland: predictable unveiling of the baddie, dad-daughter issues that get resolved with zero effort and Stu’s friend-zone situation with Becca (Betty Gilpin) which could set up decade’s worst rom-com. The visual storytelling also doesn’t make those situations any better since fight scenes are shot with earthquake-levels of shakiness (the first 10 minutes are dreadful) while all of the lighting looks borderline flat and lifeless.
Frowneys: Screenplay, humour, cinematography, stunt choreography
Stuber marketing team should be offering candy bars and drinks for every viewer if they want a better driver rating. Work for the five stars, you know.