The King of the Monsters takes on the Eighth Wonder of the World in Godzilla vs. Kong, a monster film directed by Adam Wingard. This is the fourth installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, and as the title suggests, we have Godzilla and Kong fighting each other while human characters do stuff that nobody cares about.
When writing a monster movie, it’s difficult to balance out the insane monster battles and the grounded human drama. The 2014 Godzilla film offered a lot of characters and not enough Godzilla, while Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters featured a ton of monster action and didn’t care much about the humans.
Godzilla vs. Kong very much continues the tradition of barely giving the human characters anything worth caring about, but at the same time, it gives us a bunch of fantastic monster battles to distract us from the poor storytelling.
But let’s be honest: with a movie called Godzilla vs. Kong, is anyone buying a ticket so they can watch powerful characters that grow as people as they go on an emotional journey directly connected with the searing terror of their situation?
Hell no. People show up to this movie because they want to see giant monster battles, and this film understands what audiences want to an extent. When the movie opens with Kong’s morning routine, complete with yawning and scratching his butt, you know exactly the tone that they were going for.
It’s very much a popcorn movie, and after a somewhat slow first act where we are introduced to our monsters, some characters from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and some new faces, we get our first battle between Godzilla and Kong which absolutely delivers.
The CGI on display in this film is epic; every frame of Godzilla and Kong’s battles looks real. You feel the impact of every step and every punch they throw as we are swept up in an extravaganza of visual spectacle and wonderful sound design.
Wingard does a fantastic job of injecting energy into these sequences with very creative, well-placed camera angles that illustrate the scope and size of these monsters. Once the movie kicks into full gear, it delivers on the high-octane action that audiences show up to see.
But as per usual with these films, there is no reason to care about the human characters. They are just as bland, forgettable, and disposable as you may expect. Kyle Chandler returns as Dr. Mark Russell, but his prior protagonist status is reduced to a minor role in this film as the writers seem to have run out of things to do with him.
It can sometimes feel like the human subplots slow down the pace a bit, with Millie Bobby Brown’s subplot adding almost nothing to the story until the very end. Once again, the film has remarkable battles and a few surprises up its sleeve, but the story surrounding it is remarkably stupid.
But there is one aspect of the film that works: Kong has a relationship with a young deaf child, and they learn to communicate. It’s the most heartfelt aspect of the film, and it’s one of the only human elements that work. The movie neglects its characters and story, but with the entertainment value on display, it’s easy to forgive it.
We’re not here for a masterclass in screenwriting; we’re here to watch the titans duke it out on the biggest screen possible, and the final act of this movie delivers on that in volumes. It has the issues of the other MonsterVerse movies, but it also delivers an absurd spectacle that won’t be topped for a while.
Grade: ★★★✬☆ [7/10, B-]
Godzilla vs. Kong is now playing in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max now.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language