Let them fight!
Boasting about $350 million at the box office as of the writing of this review and impressive streaming numbers on HBO Max, it would seem that the MonsterVerse’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” has single-handedly pried big budget movies back from the grip of the pandemic. Given that it’s a big, dumb movie where it’s main gimmick is where we get to see a giant radioactive lizard fight a big monkey, it’s not hard to imagine why.
Full disclosure, I came into this film having not seen any of the other three MonsterVerse films, which is fine, because you don’t have to see those films to know what’s going on. In the film, Godzilla starts attacking various cities (apparently Godzilla was a good guy in the last film), and he’s apparently killed all other titans, which makes people fear for King Kong, who is being held on Skull Island in a secure facility. With the help of Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her adopted daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who communicates to Kong via sign language, they embark on a mission to move him into the Hollow Earth — a paradise underneath the Earth’s crust where all monsters come from — in order to hide him from Godzilla’s wrath, who sees him as competition as the Earth’s Apex predator.
Speaking of Apex predators, that’s pretty much what Apex Cybernetics wants to create, to keep the world safe from monsters like Godzilla. This isn’t much of a spoiler at this point, but Mechagodzilla is in this film, and it’s no coincidence that there’s a cybernetics company that plays a prominent role in the film.
There is other human drama in this film, but the real stars of the film are Godzilla and Kong, and their fights, which we get to see in glorious wide shots in well-lit locations. There’s not a shaky cam in sight, and while the fighting is gratuitous, it’s exactly what people want out of a “Godzilla vs. Kong” film. RedLetterMedia remarked in their own review that this film at times feels like a child playing with Godzilla and King Kong action figures, and that works to the film’s advantage.
This film by no means is high art, but it never pretends to be. It knows exactly what people want to see, and it gives it to them to the tune of a $155 million budget. It’s a big dumb blockbuster that’s not afraid to be a big dumb blockbuster.
I hope this film gets re-released in theaters later this year, because it’s a film that’s really made for the theater experience, and it’s one you’ll want to watch over and over again — if we weren’t still in a global pandemic where going to the theater still presents a sizeable risk.
I really don’t have any major complaints about this film. I got what I came for, and while the human performances could have been better, I do think in the context of this film, it’s best that those arcs mainly service the big monster fights. The action in this looks great, the film has some great sequences that make great use of color and lighting, and the film never takes itself too seriously. From start to finish, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a fun, cool film about two giant monsters fighting it out. What more could you ask for?
“Godzilla vs. Kong” 2021 gets an 8/10