Godzilla vs Kong: A Monster Smackdown Worthy of the Big Screen

Finally. Everything has built up to this movie. When Legendary Pictures rebooted Godzilla in 2014 it took just a year to announce a ‘Monsterverse‘ of movies. Soon afterwards, Kong: Skull Island brought back King Kong to the big screen after a 10-year-plus hiatus. Then Godzilla: King of the Monsters sort of answered monster movie fans’ prayers reuniting the biz lizard with several kaiju including Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. Unfortunately, box office receipts and critics were lukewarm on this sequel. To date, Godzilla and Kong’s solo reboots have packed the most critical and box office clout. But now Legendary Pictures has finally brought the two alpha titans onscreen for the monster smackdown we’ve all been waiting to see.

Synopsis

Five years have passed since Godzilla defeated King Ghidorah. The word has not seen a titan since that cataclysmic battle. Meanwhile Monarch has been monitoring King Kong on his ravaged home of Skull Island. However, Godzilla suddenly re-surfaces, launching a series of seemingly random attacks. Fearful for the world’s safety, Apex Cybernetics tasks former Monarch scientist Dr Nathan Lind with finding the Titans’ power source in the undiscovered Hollow Earth. Believing that Kong is the only link to Hollow Earth, Lind convinces Monarch to transport the big ape to a possible Hollow Earth entry in Antarctica. But Kong’s departure alerts Godzilla setting the two on a collision course to determine the one ‘King of Monsters’.

Godzilla vs Kong Delivers on its Promised Monster Smackdown

If the above synopsis sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. And it’s a streamlined overview of the movie’s story. Fortunately, director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch) understands the movie’s major appeal. People are putting their money on the table to watch the two big monsters duke it out. In this regard, Godzilla vs Kong absolutely delivers. Wingard gives us three full rounds of Kong and Godzilla, plus a bonus round that fills out the climax. Not surprisingly, Godzilla vs Kong plays it a little safe initially, giving each Titan a winning round. Regardless Wingard delivers on another promise to give use a definitive winner, which he does in a wholly satisfying way. That is, Wingard ensures that both Godzilla and Kong keep their reputations intact among their fans.

Few movies really need to be seen on a large screen. Count Godzilla vs Kong among that elite group of movies.

And we likely always knew that the showdown would pull a Batman vs Superman segue into a team-up against a greater shared threat. In addition to its satisfying narrative approach to its monster battles, Godzilla vs Kong delivers dazzling visual effects. Few movies really need to be seen on a large screen. Count Godzilla vs Kong among that elite group of movies. In general, the effects – and their attention to detail – are Awards-worthy. Each action setpiece is a dizzying spectacle to behold. Whether it’s the first round on the ocean across battleships or a second round against the backdrop of a neon-drenched Hong Kong, Wingard and his effects team choreograph wildly fun fights. Indeed, this is what ‘Monsterverse’ fans have been waiting for since 2014.

Pesky Humans Get in the Way of Godzilla vs Kong’s Main Event

Just about every monster movie had to address the same problem – what to do with us pesky humans. No one is paying money about giant monsters fighting to watch a bunch of human characters argue and run around. When Bryan Cranston prematurely exited Godzilla, we were left with too many dull human characters just filling time before the ‘big guy’ showed up again in his own movie. Despite getting so much right, Godzilla vs Kong still doesn’t seem to know what to do with its human ensemble. First, the ‘cross-over’ sequel has far too many characters with a ‘Team Kong’, ‘Team Godzilla’, and obligatory human villains. Some are returning characters, others are wholly new introductions. Only Kaylee Hottle’s ‘Jia’ – the lone surviving indigenous Skull Island survivor – registers courtesy of her connection with Kong.

With such a large ensemble, it’s not surprising that the screenplay limits the characters to largely one-sentence descriptions.

Along with returning Kyle Chandler and Mille Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Godzilla vs Kong adds Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison Demian Bichir (The Nun), and Shun Oguri – and I’m probably missing someone. With such a large ensemble, it’s not surprising that the screenplay limits the characters to largely one-sentence descriptions. Both Tyree Henry and Dennison offer the comic relief and occasional expository dialogue. Apparently, Oguri’s ‘Ren Serizawa’ is the son of Ken Watanabe’s deceased character, a point I initially missed. So is he compelled to seek vengeance against Godzilla and the Titans? Who knows. Like Bichir’s requisite corporate baddie, human motivations here are pretty one-dimensional. Ultimately, their purpose is to ensure we get some ‘Mechagodzilla’ action.

Godzilla vs Kong Delivers on the Promise of the ‘Monsterverse’

After a year delay due to COVID and some mixed responses to Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the ‘Monsterverse’ finally delivers on its promise. Ultimately, Godzilla vs Kong is the monster showdown that the 10-year-old in all of us were anticipating. Not even the puny human characters can derail the giddy fun for too long. Wingard and his creative team to some of the most spectacular big monster action ever put up on a movie screen. Though it’s not completely satisfying Godzilla vs Kong get the important stuff right. Finally, we have the monster movie that the ‘Monsterverse’ deserved.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A-

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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