“Godzilla vs Kong” is the latest film in the “Monsterverse” franchise that finally places these massively iconic characters against one another in a modern day, Heavyweight Showdown for the ages! This entry is the follow up to the three previous films in this franchise: 2014’s “Godzilla”, 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” and 2019’s “Godzilla: King of Monsters”. While those films resulted in divided opinions overall, it feels like this particular entry takes the best attributes of each, combined those aspects with the advancements in VFX technology and delivered a satisfyingly fun & entertaining Monster showdown that delivers.
In terms of the plot, the film finds Kong being secured in a free-roaming dome on “Skull Island” by the Monarch organization and watched over by “Dr. Illene Andrews” (Rebecca Hall) & her adopted daughter “Jia” (Katie Hottle). Jia, who was adopted by Dr. Andrews, is deaf but has the ability to communicate via with Kong via sign language. As we witness Kong in this constructed habitat, we begin to see that he has been growing increasingly irate at being enclosed in despite the vast size of the dome created to protect & keep him safe.
Elsewhere in Florida, Godzilla suddenly appears after a long absence and engages in a seemingly unprovoked attack on the Apex Cybernetics Facility. This attack by Godzilla seems out of character by many who have now come to view him as a protector and not an enemy. From there, the character of “Madison Russell” (Millie Bobbie Brown) returns from the last film and joins forces with a friend named “Josh” (Julian Dennison) as well as a popular conspiracy theorist podcaster named “Bernie” (Brian Tyree Henry) to investigate the attack.
After the unexpected attack, the CEO of Apex Industries reaches out to a Monarch scientist named “Nathan Lind” (Alexander Skarsgard) to formulate a plan with Dr. Andrews in order to obtain a powerful and hidden energy source from the earth with the help of Kong. Once obtained, this untapped energy source will yield enough power to stop Godzilla before he potentially goes on another unprovoked attack. From there, additional plot elements ensue that I won’t spoil here but they ultimately lead these two Heavyweight Titans to engage in some violent but beautiful Monster vs. Monster action!
Director Adam Wingard, who has a background in directing Horror, does a fine job helming this big budget, CGI-Laden feature and clearly seems to be a fan of the material. Not only that, but in watching this film, it seems like Wingard and his crew are aware of the criticisms that were levied against the previous installments in regards to the story & visual aspects that didn’t work. With that, it appears they did their best to cut the fat so to speak to give these creatures more screen-time and eventually get to the throwdown(s) that everyone came to see. Clocking in at just under 2 hours, the movie moves at a fast pace and doesn’t waste a lot of time in getting these Monsters on screen together to deliver the goods as advertised.
While usually the weaker aspect of the films in this franchise, I would say the Human Element in “GvK” is at least decent if not overly engaging. The actors here serve the plot by essentially providing exposition & narration to the backgrounds, mythos and course of action taken by Godzilla and Kong. On the Kong side specifically, the film’s director utilizes the actors (particularly the character of “Jia”) to help humanize Kong in order to add an emotional element to the film. While the film’s human characters and overall plot feel a bit underdeveloped, I would say they are serviceable enough in moving us toward what we really came to see: The Action!
In terms of said action, “Godzilla vs. Kong” delivers in providing an entertaining spectacle feauturing sharp visual effects full of vibrant colors that is stunning to witness. The film stages thrilling scenes of Monster action on both land and sea as well as a surprise location that adds a brand new Sci-Fi element to this franchise. When Godzilla and Kong go to war in the film (more than once!), they are brawling in a rage, slugging it out with their various fighting styles, slashing into each other, and smashing each other into the nearest objects all while trying to obtain dominance as the last one standing.
Director Adam Wingard stages the action in creative & inventive ways and fortunately does so in a manner that us as viewers can clearly see what’s taking place. During certain sequences, there are even one take fight scenes with no cutaways so that we not only see the massive brawl ensuing, but also see the chaos and ruin they cause around them. Very Impressive! Although we get to see the strengths and weaknesses of each with both obtaining the upper hand at times, this showdown does end with a true, definitive winner. However, a lone winner and loser in this battle doesn’t quite conclude the movie as the film introduces one last element that is dangerous enough to call upon a unique form of synergy to address it.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” does its job and delivers on the promise of some awesome Monster action and epic throwdowns between these two as the title implies. The movie is well directed, contains the best VFX we’ve seen in the franchise thus far, has a great score by Junkie XL, and at under two hours, doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. This feels like a film that very self-aware in the sense that it knows exactly what it’s supposed to be and what it’s supposed to deliver. While the movie may have its share of nitpicks, uninteresting characters and contrived plot elements, these aspects honestly did nothing to take away from the overall entertainment value of this entry in the Monsterverse.
Ultimately, if you’ve been a fan of the previous films in the franchise, you should know what to expect here: The Monster action is worth the price of admission alone and we get to see it carried out using the best cutting edge VFX currently available to the Filmakers. At its core, “Godzilla vs Kong” doesn’t set out to be the smartest or most emotional Sci-Fi Film out there. However, it’s simply an entertaining, fun-filled action film that delivers on the promise of destruction and mayhem that you would expect in seeing these massive titans collide.
“Godzilla vs Kong” is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.