Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most people would know that Godzilla vs. Kong is a monster movie that pits two cinematic icons against one another – Godzilla, the King of Monsters, and the original movie cinematic icon King Kong. It is a sequel to both 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the culmination of the “Monsterverse” that began with 2014’s Godzilla reboot.
When Godzilla, humanity’s hero from the previous film, starts going on seemingly unprovoked rampages a group of scientists use Kong to help them find an energy source deep beneath the Earth that can power a device they can use to stop Godzilla. But with two alpha monster warriors roaming the Earth, it’s inevitable the two giants will clash to see who’s number one; the one true King, so to speak.
It’s been five years since the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong is now being monitored by Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her team of scientists in a futuristic holodome designed to mimic his natural environment. Kong is unhappy living there, yet despite his anger at being inside an artificial ecosphere, Dr. Andrews’ adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who is deaf and communicates via sign language, has managed to bond with the giant ape.
Unknown to the grumpy titan is that the dome hides his presence from Godzilla, who the humans know would attack Kong if he left this habitat.
All hell breaks loose when Godzilla randomly attacks a facility belonging to Apex Cybernetics in Pensacola, Florida, causing much destruction. Apex CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) convinces Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), a Hollow Earth theorist, to lead an expedition into the center of the Earth to find (what else)? the hypothetical Hollow Earth – the theorized home of the titans – to search for a power source that can help them defend themselves against Godzilla.
But it’s not enough to have the technological tools provided by Apex Cybernetics to make the journey. They’ll need help from a grumpy, distrusting Kong if they are to find the power source. But that means removing Kong from the protective dome, which also means a showdown of epic proportions is inevitable.
There are a lot of characters in Godzilla vs. Kong in a story that’s a bit silly and, to be blunt, often tries too hard to be funny. Because of this, the quality of acting varies quite a bit with some performances being what you’d expect from a monster action film and others falling short.
Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård do a decent job portraying scientists in a ridiculous plot. Sure, it’s all a bit over the top (remember this movie is titled Godzilla vs. Kong) but they both do their characters justice and do their part to push the *cough* scientific part of the story.
But their adequate acting is offset by some pretty painful performances that make you cringe every time they get any screen time. Brian Tyree Henry plays an ex-Apex Cybernetics employee and host of a conspiracy theorist podcast, and is woefully unfunny. There is so much forced humor with his character that does not land that I found myself feeling sorry for this guy.
If he wasn’t bad enough, his character teams up with Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison), a couple of teenagers trying to prove Godzilla is not the bad guy. They’re supposed to be a funny duo on their own, and when they team up with Bernie, it just becomes unfunny cringe turned up a level. I wouldn’t go so far to say these poor attempts at comedic characters ruined this movie, but they certainly brought the cinematic experience down a few notches.
But honestly, who really cares about the two-dimensional characters who are part of a story about two giant monsters destined to beat the crap out of each other and destroy cities while doing it? Humans aren’t the stars – Godzilla and Kong are the ones we want to see and you’ll get to see plenty of kaiju-kicking from both of them. You’ll even get a bit of drama from Kong too, if you can believe it.
With amazing CGI and fantastic animation bringing these two giants to life, they truly steal the show with not only their grandiose fight scenes (and there’s a few rounds to enjoy), but their performances as characters as well. Yes, you read that correctly: Godzilla vs. Kong actually gives these two headliners some much appreciated character development amidst all the chaos.
Kong’s performance as a prisoner of mankind who just wants to go home is actually quite moving. Despite his giant, warrior physique and capacity for insane levels of violence, the film shows that he does have quite a range of emotions and needs that are relatable to us smaller, punier mammals.
Even Godzilla manages to portray something emotional beyond his animalistic, godlike fighting ability, though not to the extent of Kong. Godzilla is an alpha warrior and it’s through his combat that we see there’s more to him than just being a giant force of nature. Particularly in the climactic final battle sequence, we feel empathy for the big guy when seeing the suffering he is going through in order to defeat his opponent.
Director Adam Wingard (Death Note, Blair Witch) has given us a monster movie that delivers what the fans want to see – epic monster combat. And not just one round, but several rounds of action you can actually follow in supremely well-lit cities – sorry, arenas – that include not just on land, but on/in the sea and deep within the Earth as well. And not just between Kong and Godzilla but with other monsters, too, including a suitably epic monster surprise I won’t spoil here.
Where his attempt at comedy and drama to break up the action falls flat, Wingard makes up for it by delivering some truly epic and creative monster carnage. You can tell much effort has been made to make each new round of Godzilla vs Kong different from the previous fight in order to prevent the mostly CGI action from becoming stale.
Godzilla vs. Kong is a lot of fun. It’s silly and a bit ridiculous with plenty of questionable plot points and questionable casting, but it’s just what the soul needs when you want to check your brain at the door and see a big, Hollywood, popcorn flick with two of cinema’s most iconic monsters in the same film. While you can watch it via streaming services at the date of release, I highly recommend seeing it on the biggest and best screen possible for the biggest and best effect so you can truly appreciate the visual spectacle with booming surround sound these kings of monsters truly deserve.