PLOT When giant creatures within the Earth come to life, humanity itself could be in danger.
CAST Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown
RATED PG-13 (monster-violence)
BOTTOM LINE Devastatingly, hilariously bad.
Forget Russian bots or South Korean hackers — “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is the gravest new threat to the internet. A rip-roaringly awful film, it features a cast of fine actors, a script of nonstop clunkers and a director grimly determined not to see the humor in any of it — a combination virtually guaranteed to generate comedy. Even one minute of this movie could inspire enough memes, gifs and Boomerangs to crash every server on the planet.
A good place to start might be the somber news broadcasts reminding us of “the historic tragedy that changed the world” — the trampling of San Francisco in 2014’s “Godzilla.” Next comes the obligatory scene of politicians, military brass and scientists discussing what to do about Godzilla and other “Titans.” Ken Watanabe, returning as Dr. Serizawa, gets the honor of grunting the line, “We must find a way to coexist.”
This is a movie of almost audacious unoriginality; it stars Charles Dance as Alan Jonah, “a former British Army Colonel turned eco-terrorist,” as one character casually describes him. But it really excels in the squishy field of knowledge known as Movie Science. We learn a great deal about Godzilla’s “bioacoustics” and “alpha frequencies.” Evidence suggests that his rival, Monster Zero (known to fans of this franchise as Ghidorah), is an “invasive species.” Other times, we learn next to nothing, as when people on a malfunctioning submarine wonder if it can possibly be fixed. “I’m afraid not,” says an unnamed minor character, and that’s that.
Best of all are the film’s nutty protagonists, the Russell family: Emma (Vera Farmiga), who has become enthralled by Titans even though one killed her son; her husband, Mark (Kyle Chandler), who now hates Titans the way John Wayne hated American Indians in “The Searchers”; and their daughter, Maddie (Millie Bobby Brown, of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”). She’s one of those spunky teens whose bright ideas — in this case, luring Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah to Fenway Park — are self-evidently terrible.
Credit for this “Airplane!”-caliber hilarity goes to director Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”) and his co-writer Zach Shields. The scene with the most potential for viral fame comes when Ziyi Zhang, as Dr. Chen, explains why Titans have been on Earth for eons yet never appear in any ancient literature. “It’s almost,” she marvels, “as if they were afraid to write it down.”