Godzilla Vs Kong Review- A Gorgeous, Guilty Pleasure
Godzilla Vs Kong is a feel-good movie with impeccable effects and eye-popping fights. It is a joy to watch and a fist-pumping triumph of big-budget movies.
If watching massive monsters, beat the hell out of each other, and destroy entire cities is your thing, you will love Godzilla Vs Kong. The battles are massive in scale and impressive in effect. This is the Armageddon of monster movies. Yes, many people probably won’t admit to loving it, but damn it if the movie isn’t fun. It’s precisely the kind of city smashing gratification that makes you rethink Hollywood money grabbers are worth re-entering the theater for. This is the monster movie the beleaguered franchise has been promising but was slow to produce.
Directed by Adam Wingard, who’s known for his work in success stories You’re Next, VHS, and a guilty pleasure of mine- Death note, really pulls everything together seamlessly. Even the ridiculous mumbo jumbo exposition and asides to its cast come off as the genuine article. For a movie based so far in fantasyland, it has the authentic framework that most directors dream of.
There is not a moment spared on set up. This is titan slugfest from beginning to end. In an unexpected fit of rage, Godzilla breathes holy hellfire down on a shady scientific lab that prompts team Kong to retrieve the hairy beast from his Cabin In The Woods dome overseen by his handler Ilene Andrews(Rebecca Hall). You understand later why Godzilla is so angry, and you wholeheartedly approve of his boundaries. She and her adopted daughter Jia(Kaylee Hottle) have to convince Kong to allow himself to be chained up and transported to a portal to the center of the Earth. It sounds bonkers, and it kind of is, but you don’t care.
This movie brings everything you’d expect- a massive gorilla fighting an equally giant lizard that shoots a laser beam from its mouth. It blithely, yadda yaddas its way through most if not all of the “science,” but who cares. Most of the illogical leaps are to propel us from one spectacular location to another. Kong is convinced to journey to the Earth’s center to tap some ambiguous power source that only he can locate. Before you can roll your eyes, though, director Adam Wingard gives you another stunning vista or bombastic fight that is so perfectly choreographed you would swear the pair squaring off were real things. The fight scenes are that well shot.
The special effects are superb, especially when creating a persona around my favorite primate. His face is well textured and carries a lot of emotion while not saying a whole lot. Interestingly, Wingard made the great choice of including sign language in his repertoire. Obviously, this helps a lot like a plot crutch, but it also enables you to fall in love with the big hairy fella ( if you hadn’t already). The best surprise is just how much is squashed down in the short 113 minutes run time.
Three separate but converging storylines serve as a loose backbone of sorts to support the fabulous visuals. There are lush inner Earth kingdoms, less than moral tech companies, and a former worker at said tech company turned conspiracy theorist podcaster for Millie Bobbie Brown’s Madison Russell to hang with. The real stars are the impeccable titans. Their human counterparts, by and large, feel secondary and quite frankly like game devices that keep the plot going in the right direction. They are in on the joke and know just when to drop an expository line or two and then get out of the way.
Every human character is overshadowed, literally by giant monsters battling, and figuratively, by the richness of the titan’s nuance and the superficiality of the human ones. Wingard has a talent for placing plot beats for his fictional characters that largely is missing in the human ones, but that hardly matters. The film is titled Godzilla Vs Kong, not the humans that care about Godzilla Vs Kong.
The exceptions to that are Brian Tyree Henry, who absolutely should be cast as the quirky savior in everything from this point forward, and Kaylee Hottle. Hottle, who plays the mute adopted daughter of Ilene Andrews, the scientist researching Kong, is fantastic in every scene. Coming from an all deaf family (four generations on her dad’s side), her fluency in sign language bolsters every scene. Her beautiful eyes and expressions power the soul of the movie and bring staggering depth even to something as obviously silly as a monster rumble.
There was incredible work in the movie by Junkie X L’s music score, which is appreciated during the world’s biggest fight. The VFX also creates the needed foundation for this action-filled movie, with just enough violence to keep Godzilla lovers at bay while also being palatable for the whole family.
There is one moment that perfectly encapsulates the campy perfection of Godzilla Vs Kong. During one of his many fights, Kong pops his shoulder back into place using a skyscraper. It is pure unadulterated craziness. There is something so quintessentially summer about hero’s who pop their own bones back into the socket and start pounding again. It’s especially great when the big bad is a hulking, robo-beast with corporate dollars in his eyes.
You can’t help but feel the same movie magic memories of Rudy when he’s put on the field, or in Moneyball when everything works out, or Karate Kid and his crane kick. Don’t believe me? If you had told me a couple of days ago I was going to watch King Kong Vs Godzilla and feel like a kid again; I’d laugh. If you ask me how I feel about it now, I’d say I loved every minute.
The story is perfectly paced. The plot is never stale (albeit potentially frivolous and full of holes), and the buildup is epic. This is the film the franchise is hoping can kickstart things, and it leaves loads of room for a sequel. My fingers and toes are all crossed that it becomes a reality. Godzilla Vs Kong will be the necessary evil to bring people back to the theaters, or at least something to remind us all how great blockbusters can be. The only thing I was missing is a final bro hug, fist bump, or at least a tender look back for the last shot. It’s that kind of over-the-top, self-aware vacation from reality we all need right now.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.