Movie ReviewsJosh Reviews Godzilla vs. Kong

Josh Reviews Godzilla vs. Kong

Well, I have to admit to at least being somewhat impressed that the folks at Legendary powered through and made their monster-movie crossover, despite the somewhat lackluster box office performance of the previous movies in the series.  For myself, I thought Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla was OK, and I really dug 2017’s Kong: Skull Island; but I thought 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters was terrible.  But here we are, at the big smack-down between Godzilla and Kong.  Godzilla vs. Kong is fun to watch, but wowsers, the movie is eye-rollingly dumb.

For a movie called Godzilla vs. Kong, there isn’t nearly as much Godzilla versus Kong fighting as I’d expected.  The film makes us wait quite a while for their first tussle (a fight in the middle of the ocean that ends in a weirdly inconclusive way).  However, I did quite enjoy their big third act smackdown in the middle of Hong Kong.

This is a big-budget visual effects spectacle, and the film looks great.  Both Kong and Godzilla look terrific on screen; the CGI is very realistic.  I had an easy time accepting that these two huge crazy monsters actually exist.  There’s quite a lot of CGI carnage when the monsters battle.  I was impressed with the scale of the film, and I had fun watching these two famous movie monsters go at it.  When the movie pushes the boring human characters to the rear and lets Kong and Godzilla tussle, it’s a lot of fun!

The realization of Kong is my favorite aspect of the film.  I really like the look of Kong here.  He looks a lot older and more grizzled than he did in Skull Island.  (This film is set half a century later, so that makes sense.). Kong is insanely ginormous, but I guess that was needed so that he could match up against Godzilla.  I can go with with it.  Most importantly, Kong feels like a real character in a way that none of the human beings in the film actually do!

The movie has a great cast, though sadly none of them are given anything to do.  This film isn’t quite as ridiculously dumb as Godzilla: King of the Monsters… but it’s nevertheless disappointingly populated with one-dimensional characters and nonsensical plot twists.

The best character in the film is the deaf young girl Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle.  This young child actor is phenomenal; so emotive and naturalistic!  I was bowled over.  Rebecca Hall plays  Dr. Ilene Andrews, a Monarch scientist who’s been looking after Kong.  I love Ms. Hall, and she’s a charismatic on-screen presence, but we never really get to know her character at all.  Why is she so focused on Kong?  Why did she choose to adopt this little girl?  She doesn’t have any sort of arc in the film; she likes Kong and loves her daughter.  That’s it.  Alexander Skarsgård plays Dr. Nathan Lind, a scientist who has been labeled a kook because of his belief in Hollow Earth theory.  In our world, he would be a kook, but in this movie he’s right.  Mr.Skarsgård’s vibe made me think this character would be a villain; I was shocked when that didn’t turn out to be the case.  I’m all for a character not being predictable, but I could never understand who this guy was supposed to be; I thought maybe he’d be the classic over-obsessed scientist, but that doesn’t ever quite turn out to be the case.  He’s weird/creepy enough that I never understood why Rebecca Hall’s character seemed to like and trust him.  He has a sort-of hero moment at the end, but it’s underplayed.  There’s just not enough of a character here for me to grab hold of and invest in.

There’s a whole separate storyline with Millie Bobbie Brown, returning as Madison from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  She’s investigating the evil Apex corporation who’ve decided to build an evil robot Godzilla.  (Aside: I know that Mecha Godzilla is a character from the classic Godzilla films, but this was a bridge too far for me here.)  Demián Bichir plays the head of Apex, and he’s always fun to watch on-screen, though there’s nothing more to this character than a deluded moustache-twirling villain.  Ms. Brown has even less of a character to play than in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  The great Kyle Chandler also returns from that film as Madison’s father, but only for a few seconds to be worried that his daughter has once again gotten tangled up in an adventure with these giant monsters.  Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry is a wonderful comedic and dramatic actor, but he is painful to watch here as the bumbling conspiracy podcast host Bernie Hayes, who helps Madison discover Mechs-Godzilla.  Eiza González was great in Baby Driver but she has absolutely nothing to do.  I mean nothing.  She’s the villain’s daughter who accompanies the mission headed by Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård’s characters, but this character has absolutely zero to do in the movie.  I truly don’t understand why this character exists.

So… we’ve established that there are no characters of any interest in this film.  What about those nonsensical plot twists that I mentioned above?  Here are a few examples.  Let’s start with the “twist” that it turns out that when we first see Kong at home on Skull Island, it’s not Skull Island at all but a holographic replica.  That’s a fun reveal and, look, I can accept that there are huge monsters in the world of this film.  But I just can’t believe that it’s plausible that this ginormous holographic system could have been set up around Kong’s island.  That would have taken years!!  And billions of dollars!!  How could such a thing have ever been done??  Why would it have been done??  It’s madness! Demián Bichir’s character sends our characters down into the Hollow Earth in search of some sort of mysterious energy, that he needs to power his Mecha Godzilla.  I don’t understand why that big robot can’t run on regular energy.  But, OK, that’s the macguffin; I can go with it.  But then, when a robot probe finds the magic Hollow Earth energy, it sends the data back up to the Apex HQ… and somehow then Mecha Godzilla can operate!  Wait, how did that data help?  They didn’t need to capture and transport the actual magic energy stuff?  Then when (of course) Mecha Godzilla goes rogue and starts causing havoc, our heroes are desperate to disrupt it’s connection to a never-seen satellite… because somehow the satellite is controlling it?  Or powering it?  Why is this robot powered by a satellite??  And then when they can’t disrupt that link-up, they just spill liquid on the control circuit in Apex HQ… and somehow THAT shuts off the link between Mecha Godzilla and its satellite??  Do you see what I mean when I say nothing in this movie makes sense?

What I can say is that at least the monster mayhem is fun, and at least the actors on screen are trying their best… so this isn’t the dull slog that I found Godzilla: King of the Monsters to be.  But, wouldn’t it have been great if they’d actually told a story that made some sense, grounded with some characters that I actually cared about?  If you’d paired that with the beautifully created CGI monster fighting in this film… and that would have been an awesome movie!!

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