“Godzilla vs. Kong” pits the titular titans against one another in a hotly anticipated but slightly disappointing showdown.
This film is the culmination of the Warner Brother’s monster-verse which started in 2014 with “Godzilla” and continued with “Kong: Skull Island” (2017) and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019). There are some human characters. There’s a messy plot. But all that really matters is that King Kong fights Godzilla.
When these battles are going down, it’s awesome. Godzilla and Kong are each given moments to shine. They both have unique fighting styles and use the environment in different ways to their advantage. Kong’s battle ax is such a cool addition, and I will never tire of seeing Godzilla’s atomic breath slowly charge up. There’s nothing better than stuffing my face with popcorn and watching some mindless, blockbuster action.
The movie is also great from a technical aspect. It’s crazy how far visual effects have come. A giant ape and a giant lizard fight in broad daylight, and it looks photo-realistic. I also really liked Junkie XL’s musical score. Godzilla’s theme created a crushing sense of dread every time he appeared.
It’s really a Kong-centric movie for better and for worse. A lot of effort was put into his characterization, and the movie spends most of the runtime with him. He has a sweet relationship with a deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who communicates with him via sign language. Their dynamic was a bright spot and managed to bring so much life and humanity to a skyscraper-sized monkey.
Unfortunately, it seems the writers did everything in their power to sink this movie with the rest of the characters. The human characters are usually the most heavily criticized aspect of these monster-verse movies, yet somehow, “Godzilla vs. Kong” offers the most boring and pointless ones yet.
“Godzilla” (2014), while often bashed for not enough monster action, did the best job of using its human characters. While they aren’t particularly deep (though Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe are great,) the characters act as vehicles of empathy for the audience. We are put in their shoes, and we feel their awe and fear. We’re given a sense of scale as the monsters are shown from their perspective. The characters put us in this world and give a realistic look at what it would be like if giant monsters suddenly appeared. The movie slowly builds actual tension before finally exploding in a glorious third act.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” meanders along for an hour and a half before finally giving us the battle we want. There’s a small showdown in the middle, but then the film devolves into a “Journey to the Center of the Earth” rip-off.
Most of the characters serve no purpose except to pad the runtime out to feature film length. More time is given to Millie Bobby Brown’s character and her crazy podcaster partner (Brian Tyree Henry) than Godzilla! I wanted to check my phone every time the movie cut to them. It was such a useless subplot.
Maybe I’m overcriticizing or overanalyzing “Godzilla vs Kong.” It’s obviously not meant to be thought-provoking or life-changing. I went in wanting some epic monster fights, and that’s what I got (although nothing as mind-blowing as Godzilla’s final atomic blast kill in 2014). Sadly, I also got a bunch of human nonsense.
It was awesome to see on an IMAX screen back in theaters, but I could have saved some time and watched a couple of 10-minute clips on YouTube. I would recommend skipping this one unless you’re desperate to go back to the movie theaters, or you’re already a huge monster movie fan.