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Review: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Directed by: Adam Wingard

Premise: A follow-up to 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Godzilla begins attacking cities while a bio-tech corporation and government organization MONACH use King Kong to find an ancient ecosystem near the Earth’s core.

What Works: Godzilla vs. Kong is among the better installments in the MonsterVerse franchise that began with 2014’s Godzilla. This series has matched popcorn thrills with artfulness and a strain of environmentalism. Godzilla vs. Kong continues all of those qualities. Viewers come to a film like Godzilla vs. Kong for the monster mash action and whenever Kong and Godzilla wrestle each other or other giant creatures the movie is a delight. The final row takes place in Hong Kong and it’s a beautiful sequence with the titans slugging it out against a neon cityscape. The combat scenes are well choreographed and the filmmakers have put some thought into each creature’s fighting style. Godzilla and Kong have distinctly different ways of moving and attacking that are consistent with their personalities, adding a little character to the fight scenes. This is primarily Kong’s film and the movie does a great job characterizing him. Whereas Godzilla is mostly one note, Kong has some range of expression and meaningful relationships with the human characters. He emotes and reacts in ways that reveal intelligence and the filmmakers include a lot of subtleties in his performance. But the filmmakers also regard Godzilla and Kong as animals rather than monsters and the titans’ actions are guided by the behaviors of apex predators. This gives the creatures and the movie some credibility and adds an additional layer of meaning onto the action. Godzilla vs. Kong is also distinguished from some of the other MonsterVerse films and from some recent blockbusters in how fun it is to watch. While this movie continues the series’ themes of environmentalism, the filmmakers never lose sight of their mandate to entertain. The movie includes thrills and humor and a light tone that is exactly what viewers look for in a piece of popcorn entertainment.

What Doesn’t: Ironically, Godzilla vs. Kong is lacking in its titular conflict. When the atomic lizard and the giant ape come to blows the movie is great but there is a lot of downtime between their wrestling matches. Instead, much of Godzilla vs. Kong alternates between scientists journeying to the center of the earth and a corporation scheming to use their discoveries. As in the other MonsterVerse films, the human drama of Godzilla vs. Kong is its weakest element. None of the human stories are all that interesting and no one really has anything to do except run and scream. Yet, these subplots take up most of the screen time and distract from the marquee attraction.

Bottom Line: Godzilla vs. Kong is a satisfying monster movie. It gets sidetracked with its mediocre human stories and there’s probably a better ninety minute movie buried in here somewhere but whenever Kong and Godzilla are on screen together the movie is a lot of fun.

Episode: #847 (April 11, 2021)