Review: Giant titans clobber it out in brainlessly fun 'Godzilla vs. Kong'
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
A rock ‘em sock ‘em cage match for the ages: the skyscraper sized primate Kong vs the giant, fire breathing lizard with indestructible skin, Godzilla comes to gleeful, neon-coated, mercifully ludicrous life in Adam Wingard’s brainless “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The (final?) entry in Legendary’s carefully planned “MonsterVerse” - which started with Gareth Edward’s stylish “Godzilla,” continued in 2017’s vintage throwback “Kong: Skull Island” and flatlined last year thanks to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” - “Godzilla vs. Kong” not only gets this series back on track, but it’s tons of fun that comes every bit as advertised: Two behemoths clobbering it out for total domination. Wingard - best known for smaller budget horror fare “You’re Next” and “Blair Witch” - keeps things flowing and incorporates several nostalgic callbacks while introducing a fan favorite character that doesn’t disappoint.
A trifecta of computer generated imagery done with immaculate detail and inspiration from source material, the biggest strength of “Godzilla vs. Kong” - as has been with other entries - is Wingard does his own thing and hones the characters and storylines passed unto him from previous filmmakers. His is the most crowd-pleasing because a seven-year investment pays-off in strides, and though audiences will have the luxury of streaming the film on HBO Max, this demands to be seen in the biggest, loudest auditorium available.
Picking up where “King of the Monsters” ended, “Godzilla vs. Kong” gives a substantial amount of screen-time to our giant primate who, when the movie begins, is currently stationed inside a Monarch containment zone in fear that Godzilla will seek out a battle royale. Each titan has their defenders: Mille Bobby Brown’s Madison Rusell is back on Team Godzilla along with her father played by Kyle Chandler; meanwhile Team Kong is boosted by Dr. Irene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) - better known as the “Kong whisperer” - and her deaf daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) whose emotional connection with our favorite gorilla gives the film a surprising amount of heart.
The convoluted plot involves a trip to the center of the earth and a shady, genetic cooperation named Apex who plan to use Kong’s primitive instincts in the hopes it’ll lead to an untapped nuclear power source of which Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) classifies as “Hollow Earth.” It seems like a win-win: Kong will sit on the throne in his home turf and Apex gets the resources they need, but there’s that pesky Godzilla who will stop at nothing until he’s the last creature standing.
Unlike “King of the Monsters,” which featured plenty of monster brawls, the sequences were blurry and uneventful, “Godzilla vs. Kong” course corrects and stages its showdowns with flair and dexterity. The first battle takes place in the middle of the ocean and each subsequent meet-up outdoes the last, including a mind boggling final tête-à-tête in Hong Kong that bestows a clear winner. If you haven’t seen any previous entries in the MonsterVerse, it’s not crucial for your enjoyment of “Godzilla vs. Kong” but some lore and mythological components might be lost on you.
Except anyone that’s showing up for “Godzilla vs. Kong” - whether or not they’re familiar with the characters’ expansive history - is here to watch two iconic beasts thrash and kick the crap out of each other until one bends the knee. Running under the two-hour mark, “Godzilla vs. Kong” never loses momentum (though you’ll be counting down the seconds in between rounds) and what the film lacks in its human counterparts is made up with swift and momentous action sequences. Whichever side of the duel you fall on, it’s clear the audiences are the winners in this situation. Place your bets.
GODZILLA VS KONG debuts in theaters and streams on HBO MAX Wednesday, March 31st