When a team of scientists needs to venture to the center of the Earth to mine a mysterious energy source, only one being on the planet can show them the way: King Kong. The only problem is that transporting Kong to the Hollow Earth entrance in Antartica means attracting the attention of the titan, Godzilla, who, once thought to be the planet’s protector, has gone on a warpath as of late. Fearing that the two beasts will face-off, Kong’s handler Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is reluctant to take the trip, but she is eventually convinced to go along because scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) asks nicely. Podcaster and conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) enlists the help of two children, Madison Russel (Millie Bobby Brown) and Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison) to investigate and, hopefully, take down the evil tech company run by Walter Simmons (Demian Birchir) because they’re clearly up to something shady…If you can’t already tell by lack of enthusiasm in summarizing the plot, all of the reasoning behind bringing Kong and Godzilla together is completely irrelevant.
While the films halfcocked plot and superficial dialogue weigh it down, at points, I applaud the valiant efforts of the visual effects team in their attempt to bring these two beastly cultural icons to life. Each creature is rendered in stunning detail; from Kong’s water-soaked fur to Godzilla’s many scales, the amount of painstaking effort that went into the creation of these two larger-than-life creatures is evident. Godzilla vs. Kong’s visuals more than make up for the film’s lack of coherence and leaves other elements, like the ‘acting,’ barely worth mentioning.
Humorous opening shots of King Kong’s ‘morning routine’ immediately delivers the goods and puts one of the beasts we all came to see in frame. Godzilla is introduced shortly thereafter, and when it is, the images of Godzilla’s destructive power come in stark contrast to that of Kong bathing beneath a waterfall. Immediately, Kong becomes a sympathetic character that’s difficult not to root for when the two titans eventually begin battling it out.
Though each bout in the film is entertaining, the first clash between Godzilla and Kong is especially impressive. The two square off in open waters while Kong is being transported to Antartica. Godzilla, the nuclear sea-dweller, has the obvious advantage of Kong who, in order to combat his enemy, must leap frog from barge to Navy destroyer and back. Seeing the two slug it out in an unobstructed environment like this one places the emphasis on the behemoths and allows for a great display of digital choreography.
When Godzilla and Kong face-off in the neon soaked Hong Kong cityscape, the fight that ensues is nothing short of epic. At times, Kong’s movements, as he navigates through a space that’s dense with skyscrapers, barely escaping the burn of Godzilla’s atomic breath, are pure poetry in motion. The vast destructive power of Godzilla is put on full display and is truly something to marvel at.
Does the spectacle presented here in Godzilla vs. Kong make up for the lack of depth of plot, character development, and believable drama that modern viewers expect? In short, yes. Monster movies and disaster flicks require a high level of commitment from viewers; these genres require that those watching willfully suspend their disbelief and just accept what’s being presented on screen. Yes, the human element typically evident in these films makes for a deeper emotional reaction, had by the viewer, to the on-screen chaos, but said element isn’t necessary, per se. Call it a pandemic-influenced yearning for escapism if you’d like, but I went into my viewing of Godzilla vs. Kong expecting to be amazed and nothing more. I managed my expectations and thus enjoyed the film. Viewers who can do the same will be rewarded for the time they spend with their eyes wide open and brains turned off…
The Bottom Line
A well-paced and highly entertaining visual spectacle, Godzilla vs. Kong offers viewers a knockdown, drag out battle for Kaiju supremacy that’s not to be missed.