Friday, April 2

Godzilla vs Kong Review

Godzilla vs. Kong

Dir: Adam Wingard

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle, and Shun Oguri


As I turned the lights down in my living room, dumped the microwave popcorn into a large bowl, positioned myself on my comfy couch, and asked my two kids, "Who you got? Godzilla or Kong?" I was reminded of the monster movie Saturday nights with my family as a kid. These "creature feature" royal rumbles, seen mainly on Arizona's KPHO-TV5's The World Beyond, shaped and molded my love for movies at a young age. I could see the youthful excitement in my kids' attitudes as they clamored for words to explain why one chose Kong and the other chose Godzilla as their heavyweight selection.


Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth film in the MonsterVerse, a world of giant monsters that concludes the trio of films, Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). These films established the mythology and adjoining story arcs that lead to the climactic battle of cinema's two iconic Titans. 


Director Adam Wingard, who started in the horror genre with films like Pop Skull (2009), You're Next(2011), and Blair Witch (2016), does everything you should do with a giant monster movie. It places the monsters on full display and lets them rip apart every inch of the silver screen battlefield. Godzilla vs. Kongdoesn't waste time with the human drama or character development; the other films in the series have already done that part. Instead, it delivers on the pure visceral spectacle of watching two giant monsters fight and destroy everything around them. 


The film opens with Kong waking up from slumber; Bobby Vinton's Over the Mountain, Across the Sea plays while Kong stretches, scratches, and washes his face in a waterfall. But this scenic locale isn't home for Kong. Instead, it's a giant technologically advanced cage developed to contain the giant ape. On the other side of the globe, an enraged Godzilla has awakened. No one knows why the Kaiju, a former ally to humanity, has destroyed a facility owned by a cybernetics corporation called Apex. But Godzilla is on a rampage, and Kong becomes the only hope for humanity. This takes Kong and his team, including a deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), with who Kong has a unique bond, on a mission to the center of the earth for answers. 


What makes Godzilla vs. Kong work so well is its simple emphasis on keeping the monsters in focus, front and center, as the accompanying story revolves around the two title characters' actions. In the past films that compose the MonsterVerse, the human elements seemed to take precedent over the monster carnage, leading to unnecessary character drama viewed in front of giant monster fights. Godzilla vs. Kong rightfully never allows the humans too much time to control the situation. Instead, they run underneath the Titans' footsteps while the framing keeps the creatures in a clear, controlled perspective. 


Adam Wingard does an exceptional job composing the action throughout the film, allowing for moments pulled from a heavyweight boxing match or the motions written for a WrestleMania main event. It's beautiful both in its frenzied digital demolition, big explosions and crumbling debris fill the frame, and the creation of the two beasts' textured and expressive look, the motion of Godzilla moving through the water or Kong’s easy sway across buildings and trees is delicate and destructive. Kong's eyes alone tell enough story to keep everything moving forward, without any words or descriptions from the humans. 


Wingard's best human character move in the film is the relationship between Kong and Jia. Their wordless communication is lovely. Jia's simplicity of words, communicated through sign language, is more than enough material to build an entire story that connects the dots of why these monsters are fighting. 


Great actors like Alexander Skarsgård, who plays a scientist with an personal understanding of Hollow Earth Theory, and Rebecca Hall, the closest expert to understanding Kong, join to offer silly science explanations of why everything is happening. However, the story has the most fun when the young people get to lead the adventure. Millie Bobby Brown returns to unravel more of Godzilla's mysteries with the help of a computer-savvy sidekick (Julian Dennison) and a paranoid podcasting conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry). The banter between this team of unlikely characters works well even when their adventure takes some pointless twists and turn.


Godzilla vs. Kong clearly understands the goal it is trying to accomplish, pack as much bone-crunching, city-destroying, tail-whipping, fist-thumping action into every scene as possible. Adam Wingard and the team achieve this goal, crafting the best creature feature in the MonsterVerse. 


Monte's Rating

3.75 out of 5.00



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