RELEASED: March 31st 2021
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures
DIRECTED BY: Adam Wingard
WRITTEN BY: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein, Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
PRODUCED BY: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers, Mary Parent, Alex Garcia & Eric McLeod
MUSIC BY: Tom Holkenborg
STARRING: Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgård, Kaylee Hottle, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, Shun Oguri, Demián Bichir & Eiza Gonzáles
REVIEW: After seven years of slowly building up their own cinematic universe (known as the MonsterVerse), Legendary Pictures grand plan finally comes to fruition as the two stars of their franchise, Godzilla and King Kong, clash in a battle that is equal parts epic and ridiculous.
This film is exactly what you’d think. If for some reason you’re expecting some high calibre cinema, then look elsewhere, because Godzilla vs. Kong really goes all in on the basic premise of ‘giant monsters punching each other.
The film sees Godzilla go on an uncharacteristically reckless rampage as he starts attacking the facilities of the Apex Cybernetics Corporation, leaving multiple civilian casualties in his wake. Hoping to halt Godzilla’s attacks, Apex dispatches agents to enlist the scientists monitoring King Kong to help them find the Titans point of origin. Once found, they hope to use the energy that resides there to create a weapon that will defend humanity from these monsters. But when Kong leaves Skull Island and enters Godzilla’s domain, the battle is on to find out who the true King of the Monsters is.
The story is pretty simplistic, and in a way, fairly predictable. It follows your basic ‘hero vs hero’ plot points, and for the most part, plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect.
There are some exceptions, of course: there is a definitive winner of the two, there’s a fair amount of time given to further building up the world and history of these monsters as the film leans more heavily into some rather ridiculous (in a good way) science-fiction themes, and there’s a much larger focus on King Kong while Godzilla is used more sparingly.
But what it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in thrills and action. This film very much knows who its audience is, and does its best to deliver a satisfying bout for the ages. The battle sequences between the monsters are very dynamic and well-constructed, and seeing the two constantly trying to best each other is very entertaining.
Both characters are given their due and handled in a way that regardless of which monster you’re a fan of, you’ll surely leave their titanic bout feeling satisfied, even if your favourite happens to be the loser.
As always, there are a fair few ‘human’ scenes to break up the monster mayhem, but fortunately, this time around such scenes don’t take up too much of the runtime.
They do, however, vary in quality.
The Rebecca Hall/ Alexander Skarsgård-led scenes (aka Team Kong) are generally pretty good and compliment Kong’s story well, adding a surprising poignancy to this monster brawl. Eiza Gonzales’ character is something of a walking cliché, but otherwise, pretty good.
Conversely, the Millie Bobby Brown/Brian Tyree Henry-led scenes (Team Godzilla) are less effective, perhaps due to the aforementioned fact that this movie follows Kong as the protagonist, and uses Godzilla rather sparingly. As such, without an actual connection to their monster, Team Godzilla’s scenes very much feel like the B Plot, and one that isn’t always entirely necessary. There’s some humour to be had here, and some of the exposition it gives is integral to the film’s climax, but the general flow of Team Godzilla’s story isn’t as good as it is clearly just there to set the stage for the finale.
It’s not helped by the fact that the script in general isn’t all that astounding, generally hovering around the level of quality the film necessitates, and rarely venturing any higher.
Still, script issues aside, director Adam Wingard has made an admirable jump from his smaller-scale horror films to this blockbuster epic, producing a film that continuously looks great, from the depiction of the monsters themselves to the gorgeous scenery, the beautiful lighting that frames each fight, and the exhilarating action sequences as the monsters carve a destructive path through cities and aircraft carries alike.
All-in-all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable big dumb blockbuster for those times when you really want to see a giant monkey punch a giant lizard in the face.
And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see that?
Thanks for reading! Are you Team Kong or Team Godzilla*? Let me know in the comments below!
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*Team Kong all the way!