Well, folks, the versus movie we’ve all been waiting for, Godzilla vs. Kong is finally here, potentially just in time to reignite cinema*, or at the very least deliver HBO Max its first bona fide hit.
*(We’ll try not to read too much into the meaning of an uber-successful Chinese debut of a film that lays utter waste to Hong Kong).
Godzilla and Kong do battle in the culmination (thus far) of the four-film MonsterVerse, drawn together in a film that borrows heavily from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, though fortunately does not feature a Martha moment.
The government (Whose? Does it matter?) is protecting Kong from Godzilla, who would otherwise come for Kong, because, reasons. Fortunately, this gives us 5-10 human characters, all of whom are much cheaper than the monsters at the top of the call sheet.
Millie Bobbie Brown returns and manages more lines in the first 15 minutes than all of the previous movie, even if none of them make sense and I couldn’t tell you her sub-plot if I tried. Kyle Chandler is also back, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing that he’s in the movie. Our other central humans this time around are played by Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard, the hottest scientists in the franchise so far, and Bryan Tyree Henry, who tries his best to save an otherwise bland character.
Despite tedious amounts of exposition and world-building and a bunch of pseudo-science, none of it makes sense or jives with the previous 3 movies. There’s also something about a hollow-earth, previously alluded to in the franchise and now pivotal to the plot.
Nevertheless, the film has much more heart than its (Godzilla-centered) predecessors. Kong is simply a more compelling and engaging (digital) protagonist, so it’s less of a chore to watch him bounce between VFX landscapes.
Director Adam Wingard delivers a well-crafted, candy-colored, eye-popping title bout, that overcomes sporadic lags between bombastic digital smash-ups. The human characters (with whom, the plot armor remains typically strong) are unusually engaging for the franchise (at least the films featuring Godzilla) though that REALLY isn’t saying much.
The strength of Legendary’s MonsterVerse has always been its mildly faithful retelling of the characters’ film sagas, full of callbacks and allusions, brought to life in a way never truly possible until digital technology of the 21st century.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the same: a well-made, if underwritten (or overwritten, depending on your reading) film that lovingly ties together seemingly disparate corners of the two icons’ histories. It’s a movie made for fans of the characters and their extensive legacies, that delivers and then some on its promise: a fun cinematic confrontation of two titans.
Godzilla vs. Kong: 7/10