This article contains spoilers
The latest installment of the MonsterVerse sees two of film’s most iconic beasts, Godzilla and King Kong, squaring off. Although the two titans have squared off previously in the 60s, their clash in the new film “Godzilla vs. Kong” has been met with fervent anticipation. The final product does deliver, although it’s not much more than can be expected.
Many stories that center around a duel between previously established characters typically tend to fall into a few common traps. The first is wasting so much time building up to and explaining the reasons for the fight that the fight itself seems disappointing. The other is a series of cheap cop-outs where neither of the two contestants comes out victorious or settle their differences before there is even much of a conflict.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” does get dangerously close to both of these problems, although it is largely satisfying in its general delivery. First, there is not one but two main battles between the behemoths that are both fairly well-paced and executed. The effects in this film are genuinely impressive, which is the most important part of making such an unbelievable story convincing, especially by modern standards. The fights, particularly the second clash in Tokyo, Japan, look great and feature exciting action and lots of satisfyingly gratuitous destruction.
The effects in this film are genuinely impressive, which is the most important part of making such an unbelievable story convincing, especially by modern standards.
As for the first possible flaw, the movie does spend a lot of time focusing on plot threads surrounding the fights as opposed to the confrontation itself. This is somewhat forgivable in the context of this movie, as it is the fourth installment in an already ongoing franchise’s story. What is strange is that the human characters in the Godzilla part of the story and the human characters on the Kong side never interact with each other or even have opposing motives. This leads to the fights between Godzilla and King Kong happening more or less by chance.
In a franchise where the main characters are incapable of speech, the human characters and plotlines can often feel like background distractions from the obvious draw of huge monsters engaged in epic fights and mass destruction. It’s a mixed bag in “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The movie clearly seems to favor Kong as its protagonist, with him getting significantly more screen time than Godzilla and even a means of communicating with his human allies, allowing him to be a character in his own right. The motives of Kong’s human helpers make sense, as they are trying to get Kong back to his homeland. While Kong does eventually get there, very little information about his origins or the general lore of the titans is given, which was disappointing.
What is significantly weaker is the plotline surrounding the Apex corporation and Godzilla. As we eventually learn, Apex was creating Mechagodzilla, who could rival Godzilla and the other titans. Creating a being capable of defending humanity from creatures prone to deadly rampages is not exactly an indefensible goal. Despite that, Apex is simply treated as a generic evil corporation that the “lovable” ragtag group led by Millie Bobby Brown’s character Madison attempts to take down. The CEO’s constant talk of restoring humanity to its place at the top of the evolutionary food chain just made him come off like a particularly uninspired X-Men villain.
What is significantly weaker is the plotline surrounding the Apex corporation and Godzilla.
Granting a decisive victory to one of the monsters was a smart decision, as without it the movie would definitely seem like a rip-off. This makes the team up against Mechagodzilla feel rewarding instead of like a cheap cop-out. The fights also do a good job of showcasing each creature’s personal advantages. Godzilla utilizes his atomic breath and underwater traversal to get the upper hand while Kong makes good use of his agility and brute strength. The variation in their skill sets keeps the contests engaging.
Overall, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a fun movie that remains engaging throughout. It isn’t going to win over any high-brow cinephiles to the franchise, but it does deliver an action-packed contest of champions to zone out to and enjoy. The film is available to stream on HBO Max.
- Great action.
- Admirable special effects.
- Disjointed plot.
- Some annoying characters.
Photo courtesy of CNET