Directed by Adam Wingard
March 24, 2021 (International) / March 31, 2021 (United States)
Godzilla has gone on the attack for an unknown reason and Kong is the only one that can stop him.
Godzilla vs Kong is a great movie. I am not calling it flawless. Of those there are plenty, but this is a movie whose focus are battles between a giant gorilla and a radioactive dinosaur. And it nails those perfectly. This is a fantastic action-oriented monster film that keeps you excited.
This has been noted by many but where this movie falls so very short are the human characters. Every human character is just two dimensional. In the previous two Godzilla films as well as Kong: Skull Island the characters were much better constructed than they are here. They felt more complex. In this film they lack depth as well as being ultimately superfluous to the story. Often they stumble around or provide ham-fisted dialogue the merely sets up the scene. In the end you probably could have seriously trimmed their time and still had a fantastic monster film.
Kyle Chandler is back as Dr. Mark Russell in what amounts to little more than a cameo. He is there to act worried over Godzilla’s latest attack and lecture his daughter. He contributes NOTHING to the story while in Godzilla: King of the Monsters he helped move the story along. His whole part in this movie is organizing a camp after Godzilla’s first attack in the film on the Apex Cybernetics facility.
Millie Bobby Brown returns as Mark’s daughter Madison who is now really into a podcast which is what prompts her to get in the middle of the action. She is apparently a completely unsupervised child. But unlike last time none of what she does aids in the resolution. She is there to get the audience to the next scene.
The new characters just kind of show up with no sense of who they are. Madison’s friend Josh (Julian Dennison) just comes on the scene and follows her around with no motivation as to why. His real contribution to the story is to name Mechagodzilla.
Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) is the comic relief crackpot podcaster that Madison listens to who also works for Apex Cybernetics. Is his obsession with Apex connected to the death of his wife or something else? I do not know but he does keep a small flask handy that is useful in the end.
Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) kinda unwittingly gets the baddies into Hollow Earth. I say kinda because it is really Kong that does all the work. His idea is something that any idiot could have come up with. He has some vaguely defined romantic past with Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) who as luck would have it is a Monarch anthropological linguist and adoptive mom to Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who is a deaf Iwi orphan with one of those special connections that all small children in movies have with a monster. That was kind of Madison’s spot with Godzilla in the last movie, but we need to push aside the people from the last film.
The real villain of this film is megacorporation Apex Cybernetics (that name should raise red flags since Godzilla is an Apex predator) which is trying to solve the world’s Titan problem and is run by uber rich dude Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir). Bichir is one of those actors that can sell anything, and he really makes Simmons the most interesting human character.
Simmons plan is to tap a recently discovered energy source in the Earth to power Mechagodzilla in order to battle Godzilla himself. In his quest he is aided by his daughter Maia (Eiza González) whose job is to be mean and treat people like garbage while she acts as her father’s liaison on the Hollow Earth mission.
Simmons real help though comes from Ren Serizawa (Shun Oguri) who is the son of the late Monarch scientist Ishirō Serizawa and the apparent brains (figuratively and literally) behind Mechagodzilla. Unfortunately he is as disposable as any other human character here.
But we all came to this really to see a giant gorilla battle a giant radioactive dinosaur and it is just epic stuff. What you see on the screen is mind blowing. They are brutal and massively destructive. These are not just two characters that tackle each other or throw things. Godzilla charges Kong and spits atomic breath while Kong leaps around swinging an axe fashioned in part from a back plate of one of Godzilla’s ancestors and this allows him to use Godzilla’s energy against Godzilla in battle.
Godzilla is still roaming the seas and appears to be somewhat hard to find. He is monitoring the planet and keeping an eye out for other apex predators that could pose a threat and that is what explains his attack in Florida. The Apex Cybernetics facility in Florida is developing and testing part of the Mechagodzilla robot and that is what draws the G-Man.
In Godzilla vs Kong, Kong is old and tired and at this point alone on Skull Island living under a dome that was erected after the storm that protected the island from outsiders overwhelmed it. Not being a dim bulb, he is aware and resentful of his situation though he does not quite understand that the dome hides him from Godzilla and his monster sense. In a rather cool moment at the beginning of the film he launches a tree into it.
When the focus is on the monster battles this film feels absolutely epic. It is fate of the world. Existence hangs in the balance. Not so much when they inject the human characters. These types of movies need humans to react but sometimes you can get away without having them as significant characters and I think it could have been done here. I think you could have easily trimmed down the human cast and told the same story. The humans just slow things up. But the monster battles more than make up for that.
Godzilla vs Kong is an exciting movie and well worth viewing. While short on characterization, it has great and epic action. Watch it!