The Plot: Godzilla is having a bad day. After an uneasy alliance with humans, he’s started smashing things up and poses a threat to everyone’s safety – including the other alpha male titan Kong. There’s a solution to fight fire with fire – an energy source deep within the bowels of the Earth, which may also be the source of Kong’s home. Scientists Nathan (Alexander Skarsgard) and Ilene (Rebecca Hall) persuade Kong to join them on the search before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) and conspiracy theorist Bernie (Brian Tyree) may be on to the source of Godzilla’s anger. The mother of all smackdowns is coming…
The Verdict: Turn off the lights, pump up the volume, grab your popcorn and watch a 21st Century clash of the titans with Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s a monster blockbuster too big for any television to contain though, such is the vast scale of the film which is crying out for the big screen experience (hopefully, we might get that opportunity at a later date). The fourth film in the Monsterverse series which previously counted 2 for Godzilla and 1 for Kong brings these bad boys together for one almighty showdown. This isn’t Freddy vs. Jason though, as there’s no tongue-in-cheek here. In this film, the tongue is ripped out and then used as a weapon to beat an opponent with. That’s just for starters, amidst the kind of jaw-dropping citywide destruction that would make Roland Emmerich weep for joy.
It’s not the first time these two have met before. The 1963 King Kong Vs. Godzilla, directed by original Gojira director Ishiro Honda, featured the two alpha males duking it out in Japan. The 21st Century version has them pitched as adversaries once again, with Kong in the reverse role of restoring balance to the world when Godzilla’s enormous ego is bruised and goes on the rampage. Or something (you’ll see). Director Adam Wingard steps up in scale from his previous cult hits You’re Next and The Guest and it’s clear that he’s got the chops to handle the special effects and keep the puny humans characters in play come the apocalyptic showdown in Hong Kong. Before that, there’s a warm-up round at sea in Act Two which sees navy battleships being tossed about like in a child’s bathtub battle. It’s good to have the King Of The Titans back doing his good old destruction routine.
The writing credits feature no less than five writers, trying to wrestle Godzilla vs. Kong into something resembling a workable story. One of the faults of the previous films in the Monsterverse has been that the human characters have been paper thin, not that they matter that much compared to the giant kaiju on display. This time round, Wingard and his writing team have fleshed out the human characters a bit more – at least to the cardboard standee level. The science boffins are more grounded, with the casting of the dependable Rebecca Hall an attempt to keep the audience on track and care about the human characters caught in the fray. Just about. There’s not a lot of characterisation here, as Wingard has stripped back his film to a lean, mean fighting machine that weighs in under the two hour mark (which is a good thing).
Why should these two heroes fight though? It would appear that there’s no room for two alpha male titans on Earth, hence Wingard playing with more than one variation of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ theme. Wingard knows his monster movies. Not just the Godzilla and King Kong franchises, but he also riffs on the old Doug McClure lost world movie At The Earth’s Core for a startling sequence that could build up the mythology if there are more films to come in the Monsterverse. There’s a lot going on in Godzilla vs. Kong, maybe too much for its own good. One particular underground sub-plot is under-developed to the point of anaemia, along with the character motivations. However, when it comes to seeing the two beasties fighting for who comes out on top, Wingard delivers the goods for some fist-pumping fan service. It’s daft and doesn’t make much sense, but it’s monstrous fun all the same. For once, whoever wins here, the audience doesn’t lose in the process.
Rating: 3 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
Godzilla Vs Kong
Godzilla vs. Kong (USA / Australia / Canada / India / 12A / 113 mins)
In short: Monstrous fun
Directed by Adam Wingard.
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza Gonzalez, Kyle Chandler.