“Godzilla vs. Kong” Movie Review


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     As studios continue to mine their libraries for modern franchise worthy IP, audiences should continue to expect films such as director Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” to dominate the cinematic landscape for years to come.  That’s the idea after all.  Franchises that can sustain a half dozen films or more, spanning at least a decade as the purported series unfolds.  And with Warner Brothers already having reinvented their DC properties several times over the last twenty years, it should come as no surprise that the so called Monsterverse, featuring these behemoths in all of their skyscraper toppling CGI glory, is now serving up its fourth entry.

     Beginning with 2014’s “Godzilla” and followed by 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” and 2019’s “Godzilla: King of Monsters”, the latest addition, “Godzilla vs. Kong”, suffers from many of the same deficiencies that not only plagued the first three films, but also many like them, including the entire “Transformers” franchise, as well as knock offs like “Pacific Rim”.  With the focus being on the epic battles between these titans, the human characters take a back seat and are thus relegated to silly plot threads meant to occupy them while they helplessly stare at the destruction unfolding in front of them.  It’s not like these films have presented a reliable means of defense for the people down below.  We already know the very best weapons in our arsenal are virtually useless, so what’s really the point of the story outside of the main attractions?

     And this is where screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein really struggle in what has to be considered a tough writing assignment.  The need to have noteworthy characters for continuity between each film, and in an effort to include some level of relatable human drama, means having to create scenarios for them to operate within somewhere in the background.  You’ll watch “Godzilla vs. Kong” and realize you could subtract Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison Russell (who first appeared in “Godzilla: King of Monsters”) and the entire conspiracy theory podcast angle while still having the same film. She spends the entire time away from her father, Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler & also introduced in the previous film), on a half baked crusade for the truth behind the usual nefarious corporate deeds intended really just to give her a reason to be in few scenes while adding nothing of substance to the story.

     Essentially, those in the know have determined Godzilla is really ticked off, based mainly on his recent attack of said evil corporation, Apex, off the coast of Florida.  And with the knowledge that King Kong is currently contained on Skull Island, the CEO of Apex, Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) devises a plan utilizing his immense technological resources to travel, along with Kong, to a place in the center of the planet called Hollow Earth.  There, he says, is an energy source that can be harnessed for the purposes of a project Apex is working on designed to defeat the threat of Godzilla.  Enlisting the expertise of a Hollow Earth scientist, Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), and a surprisingly willing Kong caretaker, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), the group sets out on an adventure to the center of the Earth where they are led to believe Kong will be able to find and understand where he came from.

     Of course those promises are made in order to cover up the corporate greed in play, but the action sets the stage for the battles of which the film gets its name.  And that’s where the real problems begin.  As an example, the initial battle between Godzilla and Kong occurs when the later has been tranquilized and is being transported boat guarded and by a Navy fleet from Skull Island to the United States.  When Godzilla attacks the fleet, Kong springs into action, allowing for their first of many entanglements in the film.  As you would imagine, much of the fleet is decimated by the unstoppable Godzilla, except for, conveniently, the ship carrying all of the main characters and the one Kong was actually on in the first place.  

     It’s these plot holes that ruin the human side of the story, as later on when the action actually moves to the Hollow Earth, only the ships containing Star Trek red shirts are attacked and destroyed by the flying creatures lurking within.  The ship with the main characters? Well, I think you can figure out they have to make it back in order for the story to move forward.  Not that you become attached to any of them anyway.  Everyone is so bland and uninteresting that they’re all practically interchangeable.

     But lets face it, you’re not paying for a ticket to watch Oscar level acting and screenwriting when you enter a theater to see a film titled “Godzilla vs. Kong”.  Ideally, the audience wants a spectacle featuring the two undisputed baddest monsters on the planet, who show no regard for each other or the cities they destroy while utilizing them as their own personal octagon.  And in that aspect, the film will no doubt satisfy with its sprawling third act taking place amongst the colorful ill-fated skyscrapers of Hong Kong as this full on Celebrity Death Match - Monster Edition brings the film to a thunderous conclusion.  And since we learn that both can apparently communicate with one another, I say next time ditch the human characters completely and produce the first ever monster language film.  Talk about groundbreaking.  GRADE: C-