Godzilla vs. Kong Review


All Rights go to Warner Bros.

By James Roach, Reporter

Godzilla vs. Kong fulfills its mission statement while addressing the major shortcomings of the previous “Monsterverse” installments. The biggest complaint thrown towards the earlier entries is that the movies focus too much on the humans, and too little on the giant creatures. Director Adam Wingard more than understands this frustration, crafting some of the best kaiji fights from either franchise while trimming down the obnoxious aspects of the human stories. This puts Godzilla vs. Kong in the contest for one of the most entertaining kaiji outings, but leaves it feeling as one of the more shallow movies in the franchise.

The biggest negative out of the way, this story is not easy to follow at all. Normally Godzilla movies have weak plots, it’s in their nature; nobody is watching these films for the plot. This narrative here, however, is next level disjointed, making the film feel like a compilation rather than an actual movie. 

Essentially, Godzilla suddenly attacks anything that has a powerful aura so scientists want to follow King Kong to lead them to the kaiji realm called Hollow Earth so they can power a machine to stop Godzilla. The setup is brushed off, opening plenty of opportunities where you’ll ask yourself,  “why is this happening”? It sets up for some very mind blowing action scenes for sure, but when it’s time for the humans to shine: total confusion.  Getting from point A to point B rarely makes sense, almost as if the film is teaching the viewer to zone out its dialogue so they can enjoy the spectacle. Added with the multiple subplots, one only existing for a reveal towards the end, can make for a disorienting experience. In exchange for a swift pace, we’re left with a near incomprehensible story that’s begging to be ignored. 

Besides that, there aren’t many roadblocks preventing enjoyment from these battles. There are two fights between the beasts and neither disappoint in the slightest. The first fight felt especially long in the best way, using its environment to constantly develop the fight into unexpected directions. The interactions shift between barfight-esque cheapshots and choreographed moments perfecting balancing between mindless punches and strategic attacks. While the film makes it a bit too obvious who’s going to win the first time around, it comes in at just the perfect time to keep the movie from getting boring. 

The latter portion really builds upon what that first action scene left off. The cinematography during the final showdown between Kong and Godzilla offers a variety of perspectives that couldn’t have been shown before. A standout moment occurs when the film cleverly ties together the monster and human characters by showing the main characters trying to navigate the destruction the two are causing while blasting through the sky. It’s minimal, but important decisions like that help give the movie its own identity and keeps it from being disposable.

All Rights go to Warner Bros.

Even without those two central fights, the movie has plenty to offer through gravity-defying worlds, other monsters, and giant robots. If you’re on the fence about watching the full movie or just a clip compilation of it on YouTube instead, Godzilla vs. Kong is constantly providing an interesting spectacle to digest making it worthwhile as a whole.

It’s no secret that characters have always been a major struggle for these new Monsterverse titles. Let’s look at “Godzilla: King of Monsters” for an example. Here the film sets up a dysfunctional family at the focus, even before the kaijus. The family, while likeable, more than intervenes with monster brawls. It feels like the dad and daughter have to scream at each other first before Rodan and Godzilla slap each other around. Godzilla vs. Kong is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The majority of the introduced characters are given a motive, a personality trait, and one distinct scene for the entire movie. This leaves a handful of characters feeling likeable and enjoyable on screen, but totally forgettable when they’re offscreen. The only outlier is Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, who is able to create very touching moments through actions alone. Excluding Jia, Godzilla vs. Kong lays the groundwork for interesting characters for future outings in exchange for their scenes to feel breezy. 

Many of the director’s decisions can leave it feeling like a set-up movie for the franchise: from the sidelined story to the handful of new concepts that are left practically unexplored, and a lot can be expanded upon for the future entries. It’s more than made for, however, thanks to the incredible pacing, making the journey from amazing action scene to amazing action scene way less of chore than ever before. Adam Wingard understood his assignment, and totally delivered on what was expected from a monster brawl movie.