Those that choose to watch monster movies such as "Godzilla vs. Kong" do not have very high expectations. They're not looking for an intricate plot, Oscar-worthy performances or clever twists. They just want to watch these monsters wreak havoc, and beat the hell out of one another.
With that in mind, "Godzilla vs. Kong" checks all the boxes you'd expect it to: Intricate plot? Nah. Oscar-worthy performances or clever twists? Nope and nope. Havoc being wreaked, and lots of beatings? You betcha.
But sadly, while the ingredients are all there, the two heavyweights on the title card don't share the screen quite enough...a real letdown for a film called "Godzilla vs. Kong." And the "fun" spirit of "Kong: Skull Island" is discarded for the more serious overtone of the past two "Godzilla" movies, which makes this one clunker of a clash.
"Godzilla vs. Kong" is the fourth film in the Legendary Entertainment's "MonsterVerse," following 2014's "Godzilla," 2017's "Kong: Skull Island," and 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." It pits the two legendary screen Titans against each other, as useless humans run around in circles below them dealing with menial things that, set in another action movie, might be entertaining enough to keep our attention.
But dude. Give us more Kong and Godzilla! SPOILER ALERT! "Godzilla vs. Kong" only features two scenes of them battling, both are super-cool and probably enough for die-hard fans to chew on. But their first encounter doesn't occur until nearly an hour into the film, with the second playing under-card to a showdown with the man-made Mecha-Zilla.
Bundled around these two sequences are swaths of useless exposition, and distracting sub-plots involving characters new (like Alexander Skarsgard's Dr. Nathan Lind or Brian Tyree Henry's crazed conspiracy podcaster) and familiar (franchise returnee Millie Bobby Brown and to a lesser extent, Kyle Chandler, are involved). Demian Bichir is the film's human baddie, who - in keeping with the spirit of the Godzilla films since the beginning - is unwittingly unleashing evils into the world that act as a metaphoric warning against the dangers of (in this case) artificial intelligence and advanced technology (instead of nuclear proliferation as with the original).
None of what the humans do in this film make much sense nor adds to the overall excitement. The only pair that comes close is "Kong Whisperer" Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her deaf daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle in her acting debut), who form a relationship with Kong and even learn how to communicate with him. Watching Kong touch fingers with a small child is pretty cool, and at least Kong as a character seems to be progressing and growing. The same can't be said about Godzilla, who seems to be used however the filmmakers want him to be at any given moment.
RELATED: "Kong: Skull Island" Review
The mythology of the series is so convoluted at this point that it's laughable, even for a movie involving giant apes and lizards. Kong and Godzilla, you see, are ancient enemies who both are looking to be the "alpha" Titan, but Kong also is just wanting to get home (?), to a weird upside-down world that exists under the Earth's crust...or something like that. Godzilla is a protector of humanity until he isn't, and he's a sworn enemy of Kong's until he's not.
But I guess it's enough for folks? "Godzilla vs. Kong" could have been a more enjoyable film had any of its human characters added a bit of levity, or had they leaned into the cheesiness of it all. Instead, this is a deathly serious battle with the fate of the world at stake. In the opening scene, when a sleeping Kong awoke, stretched and scratched his butt, I thought this film was headed in the right tonal direction, but by the end, it only had me scratching my head.
If you're going to make a movie called "Godzilla vs. Kong," you better damn well have the two of them going at one another. There just wasn't enough. Not enough laughs, not enough characters to care about, not enough that makes sense. And perhaps most unforgivable of all: Not enough Godzilla versus Kong.
(Note: If there is a post-credit scene, like in previous MonsterVerse movies, it was not shown for critics).
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 53 minutes.
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza Gonzalez, Kaylee Hottle, Demian Bichir, Kyle Chandler.
Directed by Adam Wingard ("Death Note," "Blair Witch (2017)," "The Guest," "A Horrible Way to Die").
"Godzilla vs. Kong" will be in theaters and on HBO MAX the same day, Wednesday, March 31st, 2021).
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