Godzilla vs Kong is the culmination of Legendary’s Monsterverse, which started back in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ brilliantly atmospheric Godzilla. And with the arrival of Kong in 2017’s Skull Island, the battle between the two Kaiju was inevitable. Their conflict starts as Godzilla has started attacking humanity for some unknown reason, with Kong being used by a shady organization to find a mysterious power source in the mythical Hollow Earth while the humans scramble to figure out what’s going on. But in truth, the plot is irrelevant because the audience is here for one simple thing: a CGI punch-up.
Godzilla vs Kong knows exactly what it is, so when it unleashes these two Titans on each other it’s so much fun to watch. Their various fights never get boring, with their first battle at sea completely pushing Kong out of his comfort zone, since he hasn’t got an island to leap around or mountains to throw his enemy into. What’s also refreshing is that even when the two plunge into the ocean, the film doesn’t shroud the action in darkness or hide it from the audience — it just gets more dramatic.
It doesn’t bother with grounding itself too deeply in reality, because that would restrict the satisfaction of watching Godzilla and Kong try and assert dominance over the other. And although it does get a little silly with an unsurprising third-act revelation, it’s still supremely enjoyable because it’s a B-movie with the biggest budget. Yes, Kong wielding an axe made out of an old Godzilla dorsal fin is stupid — that doesn’t make it any less cool. The duo’s final fight in Tokyo is genuinely gorgeous as they scrap amongst a sea of neon-lit skyscrapers, even using the city itself as a weapon to shove their opponent through.
Director Adam Wingard definitely has fun with the cinematography throughout Godzilla vs Kong. Regardless of any other criticism, there’s some extremely vibrant use of CGI all the way through. The high point here is a surprisingly trippy journey which almost bordered on Doctor Strange territory with swirling lights and reality-warping visuals.
The only real problem is the cast of human characters, as they drag this film down in a stronger way than any towering Kaiju beast ever could. In Kong’s side of the story, Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard make for relatively captivating characters who actually have some depth to them. Unfortunately, the characters representing Godzilla’s side of the plot couldn’t be more boring. The performances from Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Dennison and Brian Tyree Henry are all far too over the top, and the three mainly spend their time squabbling while skulking around shady laboratories. Sure, their story helps develop the final fight, but everytime they’re on-screen it feels like the film should just cut back to the action instead. Thankfully, the action is entertaining enough that it’s almost forgivable.
But look, in a time when audiences haven’t been able to return to theaters being, being able to watch a brand new, bombastic blockbuster of this size feels like a genuine treat. Seeing Godzilla slap Kong in the face on an aircraft carrier was undeniably fun, while watching Kong leaping off a skyscraper was a genuine thrill. All in all, Godzilla vs Kong was a surprisingly cathartic watch after over a year of the current global situation. Whether more entries in the Monsterverse are needed or not remains to be seen, but if this is the last chapter from Legendary and Warner Bros., it’s a good point to end on.
Obviously, Godzilla vs Kong isn’t an in-depth character study or an Oscar-worthy drama. This is a movie about giant monsters repeatedly punching each other in the face, and you know what? That’s okay.
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