It’s here! The championship battle we have all been waiting for. Coming all the way from Tokyo, standing two skyscrapers tall, Gooooodziiiiiillla! Looking to take down the giant lizard, hailing from Skull Island, we have Kiiiiing Kooooong! Godzilla vs Kong is finally here!
When Godzilla: King of the Monsters ended in May of 2019, a collective sigh swept the nation. Was it because the movie wasn’t very good? Yeah, that might be part of it. But it was also a sigh of relief. Fans knew that the wait was over. The last thing standing in their way before Godzilla vs Kong had just ended. That is, until a deadly pandemic swept across the globe, delaying the film’s release for another six months.
For this reason plus the fact that it is by far the biggest movie to open since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, Godzilla vs Kong has a lot riding on it. While the movie is nowhere near perfect, it more than delivers on its titular promise.
What Do You Expect?
When someone goes to see a movie such as Godzilla vs Kong, they have an idea of what they are getting. I mentioned this back in my review of King of the Monsters. There is an expectation of a spectacle consisting of dumb, loud, City-destroying monsters filling the big screen for two hours. Failing to live up to its premise can result in disappointment (see: 2014’s Godzilla). Godzilla vs Kong far surpasses this expectation.
On the flip side, unfair or not, there is a second expectation. This expectation being that the human characters are just there as padding for the runtime. It’s an expectation that you hope is not met as the studio logos fade and the movie begins. Sadly, this less-than-stellar expectation is also met in Godzilla vs Kong.
Filling a cast with the likes of Kyle Chandler, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Denison, Alexander Skarsgård, Demián Bichir, and Eiza González brings a sort of pedigree to your film. These are all people who are proven talents. Which makes it all the more upsetting that the film has no idea what to do with them.
Some are completely wasted (Chandler, González, Bichir, and Skarsgård). Some are given way too much screen time with material that didn’t justify it (Henry, Denison, Brown). And finally, the one that is given some material to work with – Hall – is weighed down by bad dialogue. It’s not too much to ask for a big, dumb blockbuster to be something more. I don’t expect an Oscar-calibre film but Godzilla vs Kong can’t just skate by solely on the main event title round.
The Title Round
That said, the titular showdown is spectacular. Watching Godzilla and King Kong face off in the neon lights of Hong Kong is a glorious sight. The two characters have come such a long way since their cinematic introductions. The CGI has never looked so convincing. You feel every hit that Kong delivers and experience the terror of Godzilla quickly approaching. Every time one of the monsters is tossed into a skyscraper, it looks real. It truly looks like an entire city is being destroyed in real time.
With the rest of the movie lacking any real emotion, these fights actually have stakes to them. There is a surprising amount of fear and anxiety that comes with the disaster left in their wake. I was affected more than I usually am. I was inherently aware that a real city with real people was getting destroyed.
In a weird way, the fight almost made me emotional. Not just because of the destruction caused. Watching this on the big screen furthered the grandeur of it all. This is what we go to the movies for! To see giant lizard take on giant monkey on a big, loud screen, surrounded by hundreds of strangers.
You Get What You Came For
It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the movie can’t live up to the action scenes. As it stands, Godzilla vs Kong is a fun time at the movies but offers very little to return to. The characters aren’t memorable, the subplots aren’t meaningful, the dialogue is cringe-inducing most of the time. When the adrenaline rush wears off and we are left with Kyle Chandler’s third unimportant appearance, one can’t help but feel as empty as Hollow Earth.