Similar to their equal billing, Godzilla vs. Kong is a movie perfectly balanced with pros and cons.
No spoilers, but Kong punches the shit out of Godzilla. It’s everything you could imagine. The framing, the lead up, the monumental weight the punch has, it is a legitimate best of 2021 movies moment of the year. The problem is the 30 minutes to get to that epic moment was confusing and almost non-sensical.
I’m of two minds when it comes to the newest, and seemingly final, movie within the Monsterverse. A common comment on social media has been ‘A BIG LIZARD AND A BIG MONKEY FIGHT EACH OTHER! DONT THINK ABOUT IT!” Which is true, but there have been plenty of popcorn movies to come out with simple, easy to engage with premises and not require massive leaps of faith to enjoy.
The movie asks a lot of the viewer immediately. It almost feels as if the movie starts on chapter 2 of a book. Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) has a best friend who…just…kinda..shows up and they begin their adventure. Jia (Kaylee Hottle) has a moment with Kong that is well done, but the moment was such a departure from the tone of Kong: Skull Island that I had to stop the movie and google if I missed a sequel. As the story starts to pick up steam, they need to transport Kong. Instead of setting up the process of transporting Kong, they ‘yadda yadda yadda’ the whole thing and the next time we see Kong he is sleeping on a barge setting sail.
Logistics can be boring, and I get that. To keep attention spans, you need to be firing on all cylinders from the word go. Balance is key though and too many moments where you take the viewer out of the experience and make them say ‘wait, what?’ it all starts to fall apart. Godzilla vs. Kong has more ‘wait, what?’ moments in its first 20 minutes than most movies have in 150.
While there are struggles getting to each set piece, when they make it Godzilla vs. Kong shines. Every big moment looks and feels distinctly different and at no time do they are rehash previous locations of the movie. They almost managed to hit on every possible biome through the movie and even different times of day. The final battle, using Hong Kong as the stage, bursted with neon color, effects, and destruction. It was never visually boring and a shame that many, including myself, will not get to experience it on the big screen.
Something this movie has been able to accomplish that many Kaiju movies struggle with is that the humans within the story mattered and affected the story. Some of the plot points the human cast inserted themselves into were utterly insane (a moment at the end with the main villain and Millie Bobby Brown’s squad is…a doozy), but more often than not they made sense and even necessary to move the plot forward.
Speaking of the human cast, I feel bad that it was mostly made up of forgettable performances and writing. The cast is full of heavy hitters (Alexander Skarsgard, Brian Tyree Henry, Millie Bobby Brown, Rbebecca Hall), but with such a lackluster script no one was able to stand out. The only standout, in the wrong direction, was Brian Tyree Henry with how dated his version of a conspiracy theorist character felt and the main source of most of the movies cringiest lines.
Can I recommend it? Yes, I think so. There is enough action and visual eye candy to make you not care how you get there, just that you’re there. The movie also clocks in under 2 hours, which in today’s day and age is an absolute godsend. You won’t feel like you wasted your time, but you might have to do some light googling at some of the plot points.