A Battle of Titans: Godzilla vs Kong (2021) - Reviewed

images courtesy WB

It’s been years in the making. The championship monster bout is finally here. One will rise. One will fall. Get your popcorn! It’s the battle we’ve been waiting for. Who will win?

Warner Bros. Monster-verse finds a minimal dose of heart as we get to the core of the long awaited dual between the massive Godzilla and the musclebound protector Kong. 

After a critically disastrous Godzilla:King of the Monsters and the mixed bag origin tale of Kong: Skull Island, the franchise finally finds some reasonable balance with this week’s long awaited release of the battle between two mammoth classic creatures. Where the other movies wasted much of their screen time on human interaction and lackluster character development or role assassination, Godzilla vs Kong finally gives us some of what we’ve actually been waiting for. War. 

The dueling megaliths take center focus as director Adam Wingard steps away from his indie horror roots to capitalize on massive budget blockbuster fare. And he actually gets it right for a small bit of the movie. The franchise gets closer to its long winded history as Godzilla and Kong both get plenty of screen time alongside some much needed exposition into their origins.  

Starting right off the bat with a sleeping but crabby Kong, audiences are thrown right into the action. Just minutes later, Godzilla’s wrath is felt as the ginormous creature begins a destructive streak on land and sea. Almost immediately we know that this is going to be the best of the bunch (so far), which still isn’t saying much. Time isn’t wasted. And the setup comes quickly. Godzilla is pissed and ready to crush civilization under foot. No one knows why. Kong is tasked with saving humanity from the flame breathing titan. Things get ugly. And we're underway. 

"Monsters by Nicolas Winding Refn"

Since the events of the last film, human kind is still reeling from mass destruction as Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler lend much needed human interaction to this tale of monsters. Picking up as they left off three years ago, Brown continues to charm on the screen as the wayward teenage Madison Russell. The ever expanding support cast features Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, and Eiza González in lead roles that could have been played by any of today’s stars. There’s no definition to anything they do. They're fully interchangeable. Demián Bichir takes up the reins as the human antagonist hell bent on exploiting technology to do final warfare with Godzilla. Per usual, he’s the best of the bunch but the role they give him bears no true threat. Like with most of these movies, scenes move exponentially towards the final conflict as baddies meet their fate way too quickly. 

Unfortunately, this entry fails once again is in the writing department. Nothing really makes sense and too much is thrown at the screen....repeatedly. There's no intelligence to any of it. We're asked to jump from place to place to dimensional travel and back again as the franchise still struggles to find any semblance of good scripting. While the facial detail for Kong looks way better this time around, computer generated set design really steals much of the thunder from GvK. There isn’t one scene in this movie that isn’t fully digital. Unfortunately it takes a lot away from what they’re trying to do here. And the abandonment of any realism for full bore science fiction also drags this thing down. Where Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film didn’t show us a lot of Godzilla, Wingard’s team definitely leans towards giving us way more monster than we can handle. And there’s a definite balance there. It's nice to finally see some time given to the creatures. 

The battle of Hong Kong is the one bit that finally pulls it all together. The lighting and building design is definitely an attempt to reconnect to Godzilla’s early years. The appearance of a new big bad is really fun to watch. And after all, these movies should be more about enjoyment. It’s easy to sit here and pick holes or to absolutely ravage the illogical scripting. But we really are talking about mega monsters smashing everything in sight. This is meant for escapism. For that, Godzilla vs Kong gets high marks. It would just be nice for a change to see more rounded characters and some actual story for a change. 

Its run time is way too short.  But, I digress. Have a blast with it and just don’t expect much. If anything, the fight scenes are well worth your time.