Review: 'Godzilla vs Kong' (2021) Dir. Adam Wingard
The two most popular movie monsters, who have survived decades of reboots, reinventions and reawakening's, clash once more on the big / small screen for a new generation of fans...
When titan killer Godzilla re-appears off the Florida coast and attacks a secret research facility, the US Military and Government feel the time is right to enlist another titan, Kong of Skull Island, and lead them to the home of these titans; Hollow Earth, and locate a power strong enough to destroy Godzilla.
With Kong being mankind's only hope against Godzilla, it doesn't take long for the kaiju to seek out the fellow titan and the military en-route to the Hollow Earth entrance in Antarctica. It falls to a select few to put their faith in Kong and help them find the chance needed to repel Godzilla.
However, not everyone is convinced that the real enemy has been identified. Before Earth becomes a battleground, the truth needs to be uncovered about just what the importance of these "titans" are to those manipulating events behind the scenes...
While King Kong and Godzilla are no stranger to their respective film franchise successes, (this being the 36th film for Godzilla and 12th for Kong), this 2021 Western offering serves as a sequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, forming part of the Legendary Pictures Production's own "MonsterVerse".
It's always been the intent from the very first Kong movie in 1933 that we have been given the chance to understand and appreciate this lumbering, all-powerful and monstrous gorilla-like creature. He is forced into life and death encounters and battles that push humanities tolerance and understanding of him, but yet the filmmakers never forgo in giving his humane qualities and basic attempts at communication and emotion.
Director Adam Wingard continues that right from the off here, with our CGI Kong waking up from a deep sleep, scratching his backside, having a shower and taking in the gorgeous, yet artificial environment, of Skull Island that he finds himself in following the previous film. He's nothing but human like, and the creature we instinctively see as the "hero" of the show with the powers that be needing to use him to help locate the "Hollow Earth" and home to the beasts that pose a threat to mankind.
Now, it's not fair to say our atomic lizard-like kaiju from the Far East has had an easy run as a creature to get behind, but from the events in Godzilla: King of the Monsters allowing him to be a hero, this film sets up the premise that Kong is a likeable anti-hero, and Godzilla has appeared again to be the enemy of mankind. Why? Because no amount of MONARCH big-wigs or military types understand the creatures actions and what he is doing. Nobody, but young Millie Bobby Brown who is certain there is something rotten with the manipulation of these creatures and bringing them close together. And as it's noted these two beasts are the off-spring of the infamous monsters who have battled decades ago, this helps place the story in the modern day and giving context to what has already come.
Not even 17yr old Bobby Brown and 18yr old Julian Dennison do an amusing or convincing enough job as two youngsters suddenly taking charge of an investigation nobody else can seem to work out but these two.
Their young kid schtick running into and out of trouble, full of technical-whizz clichés and trying to save the world just feels so catered to Western audiences, and not something that feels right in a film that needed far greater, more intense and believable roles for the plot to ride on than semi-innocent luck and good natured belief in society. Cut between the plot about a pocket of human researchers and soldiers, including a 2D Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall using Kong as their guide to the titan lair, everything feels it's running far too casually and just leading to the grand finale which we are all here to see.
While the story itself makes sense and helps advance the established MonsterVerse we've seen so far that can easily continue, the characters that run the show still aren't overly interesting or engaging. It's a shame nobody else from 'Skull Island' could come back to continue their relationships and journey with Kong, such as Brie Larson or Tom Hiddleston because it may have helped a great deal. Everyone is just here to move the story on and give us plot points and explain when the CGI monsters can't. The only leading star who stands out is young Kaylee Hottle as a deaf Iwi native who has a special bond with Kong from the start, and seems to be the only one who connects.
The premise of the film and it's marketing has been about two cinematic icons coming together for an almighty clash on a worldwide blockbuster scale. Not even Batman and Superman coming together for a scrap cause the ripples of excitement that Kong and Godzilla have done. But to get there, you'll need to wait a good 40mins into this 1hr 45min story about for a sequence that encapsulates everything about the loud, CGI heavy American summer blockbuster and teases the excessive, over-the-top confrontation we know is yet to come.
And 40 minutes later, for the final few moments of the film we have the titular Godzilla vs Kong. It's everything that young children dream about when playing their toys - two huge monsters battling and using everything else as weapons including skyscrapers, aircraft carriers and anything else that can be uprooted. As with these sorts of CGI monster movies, gone is any care about the human casualties that probably stack up in the million mark, as Hong Kong becomes the next battleground amidst some gorgeous neon bathed action that ticks all the right boxes for what you want to see. Crashing, bashing, slamming, jumping, falling, tearing, kicking and roaring in a mix of dizzying camera angles and genre pleasing slow-motion.
The entirety of this loud, tribal, dangerous and bombastic clash of titans is accompanied by a loud, tribal, dangerous and bombastic score by Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, fresh from his work on Zack Snyder's Justice League.
There is plenty here for fans of the characters and franchise to appreciate when the titans get to do their thing, from the wonderfully detailed CG design to nods, winks and designs from the older films and the escapist destruction of these monster / disaster films. It just doesn't warrant anything that will live on in years to come as a memorable confrontation.
Noisy, loud, packed full of Hollywood excess and CGI chaos to satisfy fans of these two monsters of cinema. It just gives little else in terms of interest, plot or memorability.
'Godzilla vs Kong' is a Legendary Pictures production