The histories of Godzilla and Kong are long etched in movies and beyond. They are the most iconic of the Kaiju, and a true tale of east meets west as the US made Kong in 1933 while Japan created Godzilla in 1954. These two clashed once in a somewhat infamous film in 1962 titled King Kong vs Godzilla, and though it was a hit it didn’t deliver the epic action between these two titans of monster lore. However, nearly six decades later these two clashed again in Godzilla vs Kong. And say what you will about the film, when they let the two fight…it’s pretty awesome.
If you somehow didn’t know, this film is the 4th in the “Monsterverse” line after Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and the most recent of the films via Godzilla King of the Monsters. This film takes place in-canon about 3 years later. The world has been restored after the Titan War and things are peaceful…
…but this is humanity and of course things are going to go wrong when they decide, “Hey, maybe we should screw with the status quo”!
Enter Apex Cybernetics, your typical “evil tech company disgusting itself as a place meant to benefit society” and so on and Godzilla attacks them for seemingly no reason. This raises all sorts of questions about why Godzilla after three years of dormancy wouldn’t just attack, but do a hit and run on a facility that would have “no ties” to him.
This causes many people close to the matter to wonder what is going on. Not the least of which is the returning Madison Russell who is trying to figure out what is happening while her father Mark doesn’t care as much and is just trying to save people from Godzilla’s wrath.
Head over to Skull Island and Kong is (somehow…) contained in a Monarch facility under the watchful eye of Dr. Ilene Andrews and a young girl named Jia. Jia is able to communicate with Kong both emotionally and through sign language (which is honestly rather cool) and the two want to keep Kong safe from Godzilla because they know if he leaves Skull Island, Godzilla will come for him and make him submit, or kill him.
Enter Nathan Lind, who has been hired by Apex Cybernetics to follow-through on the research of his brother to find the true center of the “Hallowed Earth” that was teased in King of the Monsters and to locate a certain power source that can go and turn the tide against Godzilla. Kong is stated to be their best shot at finding the power source and thus they risk everything to take him to the core of the planet and see what happens.
What could possibly go wrong…?
A lot, a lot goes wrong, and that’s part of the fun. Because though it takes 40 minutes to get to the first Godzilla vs Kong fight, it’s well worth it, and there’s a lot of fun visuals in that first fight alone. “Round 1” absolutely delivers, and yet, despite what the title suggests, most of the film is honestly more of “Kong Running From Godzilla” instead of them clashing multiple times for supremacy.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing per se, but it does cause some issues. Not the least of which is that in the hunt for “Round 2” and beyond, we spend a LOT more time with the human characters…and it just doesn’t work most of the time.
For example, the stuff with Ilene and Jia is great, especially as we see Jia really be the “voice” of Kong in key moments. That stuff is great. And yes, Millie Bobby Brown is fearless and shows that perfectly in the film. But other characters come off as way too over the top. Yes, even for a Kaiju movie.
The best example of this is the character of Bernie Haynes. A conspiracy theorist who is accurate about Apex being up to something, but then goes totally off the rails in how he talks and handles things. Even Millie’s character seemed to be fed up with him by the end of it. Madison’s friend in Josh was just…there. The villains in Maya and Walter Simmons are as over-the-top as you’d expect and they die in very predictable ways when their hubris and stupidity get the best of them.
For me, in my opinion, Kong Skull Island was the best of the Monsterverse films because it balanced the action of the monsters with the humans and didn’t make the humans seem out of place outside of John C. Reilly’s character. Godzilla vs Kong falls into the pitfalls of the two main Godzilla movies by focusing WAY more on the humans than we should and it creates some unnecessary lulls in both logic and action.
Don’t get me wrong, when the action DOES return via “Round 2” and “Round 3” of Godzilla vs Kong, it’s epic. And to be clear, like the movie promotes, one does reign supreme here, and it’s done in a way that is fair and logical.
SPOILER…it’s Godzilla. He’s King of the Monsters now and forevermore.
BUT, naturally, the movie can’t just be about these two creatures, and so the long-spoiled arrival of MechaGodzilla was made manifest. And you know what? It was pretty cool. The new design was really tight, and them diving into the lore of the main different versions of MechaGodzilla and creating a new history for this version was fun. From using the bones of Ghidorah (a reference to how one version of MechaGodzilla was built on the bones of the original Godzilla) to using a pilot and “link” to pilot the craft (a reference to Akane Yashiro and the Kiryu version) and so on.
And dang if they didn’t make MechaGodzilla feel like not just a threat to both Godzilla and Kong, but something that they NEEDED to work together on to kill, and that’s exactly what happened in epic fashion.
Is this movie the epic culmination and payoff we’ve been waiting years for? Yeah, in its own way. The fights and the way they ebb and flow is really fun. You kind of wish there was just a movie full of just that action instead of the human subplots and the waste of certain characters (like Kyle Chandler’s Mark Russell and the son of Serizawa).
Furthermore, in typical Monsterverse fashion they tease certain things and don’t exactly explain them. Like how Kong and Godzilla have an “ancient rivalry” but it’s not exactly stated how that came to be or why they’re drawn to each other. Furthermore, the ending just…comes randomly, which happened in the previous Monsterverse films so perhaps that’s just par for the course by this point.
If you come to Godzilla vs Kong looking for action and a decisive winner? You’ll get that. If you’re looking for the greatest Kaiju movie ever? You might want to look at other films.
Godzilla vs Kong Review
While the human stories weigh it down, when it comes to Kaiju action, Godzilla vs Kong is the king.
- Godzilla vs Kong Review