Director(s): Adam Wingard
Writer(s): Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Millie Bobby Brown, Bryan Tyree Henry
Synopsis: The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another – the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong – with humanity caught in the balance.
The “Monsterverse” (because everything needs a universe now) has been an interesting one to cover so far. You have 2014’s Godzilla which kicked everything off, and was a film that was much more grounded and rooted in horror than anyone thought it would be. Playing out similar to Jaws, the monster was always there but never visible, and the presence was enough to terrify people.
However, it seemed as though after that strong and striking first film, the entire universe did a massive 180 when it came to the next installments (Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters). These films tossed the more grounded approach out and was much more focused on showing these two beings as what they were, monsters. My biggest issue with Kong: Skull Island was that I felt it did a massive disservice to the character of King Kong. Ever since his first film in 1933, Kong has been as much human as he was a giant monster ape. This is something I think Peter Jackson got right when he made his version of the film in 2005. My biggest issue with Godzilla: King of the Monsters was that it tried to become a film more centered around the humans themselves, rather than giving us the horrors of what it is like living through these massive monster attacks.
This brings us to Godzilla vs. Kong, and after being massively let down with the previous two “Monsterverse” films, I decided to take a new approach into this one, and one I should have been taking all along, and that is to sit down, turn my brain off, and just enjoy the film for what it is. And I can confidently say that that might be the only real way to enjoy this film. They should have a trailer before the film reminding everyone to do so, because when you do it allows yourself to throw some of the plot holes and questionable decisions out the window and just enjoy this films for what it is, two massive beings beating the shit out of each other.
This is not a negative on the film in any way, actually the opposite. This film did everything right and just like a heavyweight UFC fight, you are tuned in for the three round, not the intermissions. The human characters in this film didn’t serve as plot devices, more-so as mcguffins for our two main challengers. This limited use of human characters, I think, heightened the affect when they were actually used as part of the plot. Instead of fearing these beasts, the humans we saw cared about them and wanted to help them. This gave the beasts a more human element in themselves that I was wanting from the previous two movies, especially in Kong. From the first 5 minutes on, you could tell this was a different King Kong, and just like a Rocky Balboa, by the end I think he will win you over. He takes the beatings, but you start to root for him later on, and he even converted me into a fan by the time the movie was over.
But what you really should watch this film for is the fights, and playing out in 3 main battles, the fights lived up to any hype you could’ve given it. Adam Wingard, who is more well known for horror films, was able to craft some insane and spectacular looking, sounding, feeling fights. The second battle which takes place in the city at night was a neon-filled blast that had me cheering and rooting in my seats. It’s undoubtedly one of the best blockbuster fight scenes I have ever seen. The visual effects are absolutely breathtaking, and each frame looks as realistic as it could be. Everything from the zoomed out carnage to the close-ups looked and felt incredibly real. This film isn’t one I would recommend watching at home, because the large scale theater feel to it will make it that much more impactful.
Aside from the fights, there wasn’t really much to grab onto. Most of the movie felt like a video game where one was just advancing level to level trying to reach the final boss. The script was mediocre at best, and the acting was too. However, that’s not why you came to see the film. No one goes to see Godzilla vs. Kong for the humans (if you did then I’m sorry you will hate this), but that’s okay. That is what is so great about what this film did, was that it peeled back everything and provided us with what we wanted to see. Two kaijus battling it out not for the sake of protection or defense, but just to be on top. It’s a lot like the original Transformers in that it is dumb, for sure, but it is a spectacle and is what a blockbuster of this caliber should be. Don’t watch this on a tv, see this in theaters.
Final: Big, loud, dumb, and a whole lot of fun, Godzilla vs. Kong is a heavyweight UFC battle bringing two of the most powerful kaijus together to duke it out for the top spot. You don’t get much more than that, and that’s a good thing. This film demands to be seen on the biggest, loudest, fattest theater screen you can find.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.