Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Eiza González, Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Intense Sequences)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 24 March 2021
Synopsis: Legends collide in “Godzilla vs. Kong” as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.
Four movies into their MonsterVerse, Legendary has finally given fans the monster smackdown that they have no doubt been waiting for since 2014’s ‘Godzilla’. Whereas its predecessors felt the need to ground the action in some character-driven narrative, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ is singularly focused on getting us to the point where we get to see the two titular creatures pitted against each other.
Picking up from where the respective movies left off, it begins with Godzilla, after having saved humanity from King Ghidorah, launching a seemingly unprovoked attack on the Florida facility of the tech company Apex Corporation. Not surprisingly, Apex isn’t the benevolent enterprise it touts itself to be; amidst the age of Titans, its founder and CEO Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) wants ultimately to restore humans as the apex predator, and has in turn created a monster not unlike what happened in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’.
Walter enlists the disgraced geologist Dr Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) to lead an expedition to bring Kong back to his home in ‘Hollow Earth’, a place of inverted gravity at the centre of Earth’s core through large subterranean tunnels located at the Antarctic. Those who recall ‘Kong: Skull Island’ may remember that the theory was first introduced in that movie, and ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ advances that mythology with a subplot that sees Dr Lind cajole Kong’s guardians Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and deaf girl Jia (Kaylee Hottle) to make that expedition with him.
Unbeknowst to them, the voyage is simply a guise for Walter’s supercilious daughter Maya (Eiza Gonzalez) to extract an elemental source of power from within Kong’s birthplace, in order to achieve a breakthrough in Apex’s research at creating a monster powerful enough to defeat the Titans. Apex’s secrets are also what drives another parallel subplot, which sees ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’’ Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) team up with her friend Josh (Julian Dennison) and conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) to find out the truth behind Godzilla’s so-called random attack.
Except for Jia, whose unspoken connection to Kong lends humanity and poignancy, the rest of the human characters are simply service to a workmanlike narrative that knows the focus of the movie ought to be on the gigantic set-pieces which its title promises. Thankfully, director Adam Wingard delivers enormously on the action spectacle in four elaborate sequences that will literally take your breath away, justifying every bit of the reported $200mil budget that he had been given for the movie.
Gone are the dark, rain-lashed visuals of the last Godzilla movie; here, Wingard ensures that you can see every bit of the action, as well as appreciate the scale at which it unfolds. The first encounter between Godzilla and Kong is in the middle of the ocean amidst an entire fleet of aircraft carriers, and boy is it intense and exhilarating. The next doesn’t involve Godzilla, but lets Kong demonstrate why he is the Alpha among other Titans. The last two unfold in night-time and day-time Hong Kong respectively, the former using the city’s distinctive neon lights for maximum hypnotic effect and the latter laying waste to its iconic harbourfront for a three-way battle that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
And that is ultimately what ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ is about – a chance to watch these legenadary titans smack the ‘sh**’ out of each other in the most breathtaking way possible. Fans of the former character will also be thrilled to know that both these titans do take on an even worse baddie known as Mechagodzilla, and that climactic battle is one of the most fist-pumpingly satisfying endings we’ve seen in a while. Kudos too to the excellent visual effects, especially in humanising Kong’s feelings, whether is it frustration, resignation or just plain anger.
After three movies therefore, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ charts a less ponderous, more fan-service direction for Legendary’s MonsterVerse. How long that can sustain the franchise is anybody’s guess, but at least for this entry, we must say it invigorates the series with the sort of kaiju showdowns that arguably was its very raison d’etre. Future instalments can try with the human drama again, but at least at a time when many audiences are looking for a reason to step into the cinema once again, this is as big and as awesome a reason as any.
(The MonsterVerse movie fans have been waiting for, 'Godzilla vs Kong' delivers the sort of kaiju showdowns that is the very definition of epic)
Review by Gabriel Chong