The latest entry in Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse is the massive mutant clash we’ve all been waiting for. The last time these two behemoths of the screen exchanged fists (and claws) was in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla. Waiting nearly 60 years for a rematch, the atomic-powered lizard and the larger-than-life primate deliver a memorable showdown that will satisfy fans of the bonkers battle concept.
Unlike his two previous films, Godzilla is firmly established as the film’s villain early on in Godzilla vs. Kong. After attacking the Florida facility of a large electronics company called Apex Cybernetics, humanity looks to Kong to try and seek an answer to why the spiky scaled beast—that was once their unlikely saviour—has now began attacking them. It’s nice to see Kong play the sympathetic protagonist, leading humanity’s charge against the rampant reptile while sharing a sweet connection with a deaf orphan (Kaylee Hottle) who is a native of the monkey’s original home, Skull Island.
The suitably ridiculous plot ensues that involves a disgraced professor Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård). His ‘hollow earth’ theory states that there is an undiscovered ecosystem within the centre of our planet that is the native home world of the monstrous Titans. Lind teams up with Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), a researcher in close contact with Kong, to try and navigate a way into hollow earth with Kong’s help and find a way to stop Godzilla’s unexplained rampages.
The other key plotline in Godzilla vs. Kong centres around Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), a teenager from the previous film who teams up with two other misfits to investigate why Godzilla attacked Apex Cybernetics in the first place.
Just like previous MonsterVerse movies, Godzilla vs. Kong suffers from an over-saturation of human characters that often slows down the narrative with superfluous scenes and dialogue. Russell and Co.’s sleuthing does set up the film’s eventual Big Bad, but it maybe could’ve been done in a less disjointed and irritating fashion.
Although this is the one major criticism of Godzilla vs. Kong, this film excels past others by placing the titular Titans at the centre of the story. Family-centric stories are played down to give time to the bombastic beastly battles. The camera doesn’t cut away from the action to focus on a father struggling to locate their child in amongst all the debris and destruction. The film has some of its predecessors’ weaknesses, but it plays to its strengths more so than any other.
These strengths are undoubtedly the Godzilla vs. Kong’s visual effects and cinematography. The film is dominated by CGI shots of creature chaos and unbridled urban destruction, but it all looks so clean and realistic that you’ll never be taken out of the film’s world-building. The film also succeeds in finding exciting ways to portray the action, using a variety of different angles and shot types to keep everyone interested.
Godzilla vs. Kong revels in the ridiculousness of its premise. From the ostentatious title card to the city-destroying climax, the film knows exactly what it needs to be. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it gives viewers the off-the-wall blockbuster escapism we all crave. It only leaves me with one melancholy wish: why can’t I be watching this gigantic and ludicrous monster movie in the cinema?
Words by Cameron Blackshaw
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