Godzilla vs. Kong is just fine and that’s perfectly okay as viewers watch the newest installment of Legendary’s Monsterverse.
This film more than makes up for 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. There’s still an ample plot regarding the human characters but there’s more than enough battles between Godzilla and Kong to make up for it. In 2019, we saw the eco-terrorists wanting to wake up the titans in order to help the planet’s rebirth. It didn’t go so well as planned. This time around, we more or less see what Kong has been up to. Monarch built a Skull Island outpost since the last time we saw him. This might explain how he was not affected by 2019’s events that saw all the titans get awoken.
The two titans collide more than a few times in this fourth Monsterverse installment. In recent years, Kong has formed a bond with a young orphan girl from the Iwi tribe, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), where Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) studies him. APEX Cybernetics wants Kong to lead the way to the Hollow Earth so that they can access the source. They also recruit former Monarch Chief Geologist and Subterranean Cartographer, Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), in their mission. You already know that this is going to lead a wake of destruction. The military doesn’t seem to learn its lesson after quite a few films! And yet, they persist in making mistakes and killing their own personnel. Their journey takes them from Skull Island to Hollow Earth and finally, Hong Kong.
Walter Simmons runs APEX Cybernetics as the company’s CEO. He wants the world to be protected from all of the titans. You can make an argument that APEX is a similar organization to Monarch. Tying in the two companies is the fact that Dr. Ishirō Serizawa’s son, Ren (Shun Oguri), works for APEX. Walter has so much control of what’s happening that he sends in his daughter, Maia (Eiza González), to help out with the Kong operation. The apple does not fall far from the tree. I’ll just leave it there.
Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) are also back. Aside from the star titans, they are just about the only people returning from previous films. Mark is now working as Monarch Deputy Director of Special Projects. It’s quite the character arc following the previous film. As Godzilla starts turning from protector to enemy, Madison listens to Bernie Hayes’s (Brian Tyree Henry) podcast seeking to unearth the truth. Her father doesn’t want her to listen but maybe the podcast is leading to the truth. Where one part of the film focuses on Kong, the other part focuses on Madison and her belief that Godzilla isn’t a bad guy. Naturally, Madison brings best friend, Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison), along for the ride.
As movie fans, we find ourselves rooting for one alpha over another. Even when they try to tear each other apart, we somewhat know that someone else is lurking in the distance. There’s this sense going into the film that neither character will die. They are both iconic titans of the screen and must survive.
Some monsters do make cameos during the Hollow Earth sequences. But as for the big ones from the last film, I’d rather keep my silence for spoiler reasons. That’s the thing about this film in particular. To discuss one aspect of the plot is to bring up something that’s spoilerish. Let’s just say that Godzilla vs. Kong offers a contemporary update on a classic Godzilla villain! The film has been available since Wednesday so there’s a good chance that you already know what happened.
I can’t say this enough though: the visual effects are astonishing. Even watching it at home, one can admire the effort that went into this production. If Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t pick up a visual effects nomination during the next awards season, I’ll be surprised. There’s so much beauty in terms of the film’s technical side!
Apologies for the lateness of this review. Press screeners were initially sent out while I was offline for Shabbas and the first two days of Passover. I could have watched the film on Monday but after three days of being offline for religious observances, I just wanted to focus on clearing out my inbox. To no surprise, press screeners were sent after the social media embargo lifted. Of course, I ended up doing another Star Wars binge after cleaning out email and a frozen apartment didn’t do any favors either. It’s really hard to be productive when you’re freezing through no fault of your own!
Godzilla vs. Kong isn’t a cinematic masterpiece but the film doesn’t need to be. I still had fun watching the film. Dumb fun that is. In watching at home, I find myself sitting on the edge of my bed. Would I have been on the edge of the seat at the theater? Maybe but I don’t know. I would certainly have enjoyed the sound while viewing in a theater. There’s nothing worse than continually raising and lowering the TV volume!
DIRECTOR: Adam Wingard
SCREENWRITERS: Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein
CAST: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, with Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir