Godzilla VS Kong (2021) – Movie Review

Predictably Underwhelming

From Freddy VS Jason to Batman VS Superman, these blockbuster fights can usually be summed up with two words – “predictable” and “underwhelming.” Despite a lot of hype and some dazzling special effects, Godzilla VS Kong is a predictably underwhelming match-up.

Armed with a by-the-numbers, formulaic story, lots of forgettable human characters and bursts of CGI-filled action, Godzilla VS Kong is a bit of a mixed bag. When it hits its stride, Godzilla VS Kong is absolutely fantastic and the visual effects in particular are stunning.

Every punch thrown by Kong, every whip-cracking tail from Godzilla and every cacophonous roar from these two Titans hold real menace behind it. As these titans slug it out across their three distinct rounds, the sheer scale and intensity to this match-up can be felt. This is a fight for the ages.

Buildings are leveled, fires rage on and devastation lies as a ruinous tapestry across different cities. This is a monster movie in ever sense of the word with some good old fashioned, adrenaline-fueled action.

As part of this “Monsterverse” (with Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters preceding this) Godzilla VS Kong essentially brings both titans together and lets them fight it out to the bitter end.

There is a story holding everything in place, but to be honest you’ll mostly find yourself waiting around for the big action to start. It’s basically akin to the pre-match commentary before a big NBA or football game.

If you’ve been following the previous movies in this cinematic universe, Godzilla VS Kong mixes things up and changes the lore ever-so-slightly to fit everything into this slim 110 minute picture.

After being heralded as humanity’s saviour last movie, Godzilla begins this episode by completing undoing that good will, rampaging through Florida unprovoked. With venomous anger, Godzilla levels out the Sunshine State with some warning shots. The military is on high alert, and around the world humanity brace themselves to fight off the threat this giant beast poses.

That’s of no concern to Dr Nathan Lind though, who decides he needs to mobilize his forces and find a powerful energy source at the center of the Earth. To get there, they’re going to need Kong, who’s currently chilling at Skull Island. Imprisoned in a large, transparent cage thanks to Monarch, Kong is forced into this whether he likes it or not.

On Skull Island we meet one of the only memorable human characters here in native child, Jia. She can communicate with Kong via sign language, leading to some surprisingly touching scenes between her and the monstrous ape.

These moments of humanity are brief, as the movie whisks Kong off on a journey to the center of the Earth to uncover an ancient relic. This could hold the key to stopping Godzilla and saving the world. It’s all very simple, B-Movie stuff and for the most part Godzilla VS Kong works to set these two beasts up for an epic collision course with one another.

Outside these match-ups though, the rest of the film is bland. At worst, it’s painstakingly boring and forgettable. Unlike the memorable Bryan Cranston in his brief cameo in Godzilla or the star-studded line-up in Kong: Skull Island, there’s not a single memorable person in this cast to ignite the human element of this picture.

That’s pretty surprising to be honest, especially with some big names cropping up in this – including Millie Bobby Brown. Everyone is just so indispensable and full of exposition-fueled monologues that you’ll be hard-pressed to remember any of these in-character names by the end.

Bernie Hayes, the conspiratorial podcaster searching for the truth, is arguably the best of the bunch alongside Jia. He plays up the Will Smith-esque comedy relief with a mixed bag of one-liners and hyperactive quips. A particularly funny joke about a DJ booth is easily one of the best lines. Beyond that though, the rest of the characters fail to stand out.

At the end of the day, everyone going into this film will do so with the intention of checking out the big fights. Many people will wave away the story and stay for the clash of the titans. Unfortunately, the filmmakers also seem to feel the same way, cobbling together what it can between these behemoths slugging it out.

The result is a movie that absolutely crackles into life during the big fights but fizzles out into nothing the rest of the run-time. Godzilla VS Kong is not a bad film per-se, but it is another predictably underwhelming clash that doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

 

Godzilla VS Kong releases on Wednesday 31st March on HBO Max!


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