Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, Zach Schields (story by), Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein (screenplay by)
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle
Mild Spoiler Warning!
Hello again, I am back with a review of a movie that is not 4 hours and 2 minutes long full of emo artwork (looking at you, SnyderCut). Instead, I have a review of a fun 1-hour movie that is sorely needed in a time that has sucked away all the fun of going to a theater. It was invigorating to see a movie have fun again instead of making me feel sad, depressed, or angry. I was able to enjoy some semblance of life with this movie. I am talking about Godzilla vs Kong.
The new and maybe last Monsterverse movie from Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures focuses on two famous creatures in cinema history facing off for the first time (or again, if you watched the 1962 original movie) for who will reign supreme. All the while, humans are doing what humans do best; some are trying to do the right thing, a majority of offscreen extras will become causalities for our viewing pleasure, and some are obviously evil. That is the main gist of the movie for you. It’s practically The Avengers of the Legendary Pictures Monsterverse series.
As stated earlier, I have not had fun with a movie like this since the Fast and Furious or Bad Boys franchise, or even Kong: Skull Island. Over the years, the Monsterverse was a bit of a mixed bag to describe it. Godzilla (2014, directed by Gareth Edwards, reintroduced the titular creature as a redemption for the crime American filmmakers committed with Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1997). It was almost like Alien (1979), but as a kaiju movie with Godzilla shown in a few scenes, remaining hidden until the big climactic finale with the MUTOs.
Kong: Skull Island (2017), directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and is a prequel set in the 1970s focusing on the discovery of Kong and Skull Island, is still my top favorite of the series. Think of it as Prometheus (2012) without the scientific mumbo jumbo. In theory, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), directed by Michael Dougherty, was a good expansion of the world with multiple titans and Godzilla fighting against his rival, King Ghidorah. In actuality though, it was a messy mishmash with an oddly unintentional, hilariously serious tone that has the potential to put anyone to sleep. Think of that movie as Aliens (1986), but not done correctly and with some noticeable rip-offs of certain elements from that movie. But despite the history of the troubled Monsterverse franchise, I had fun with Godzilla vs. Kong. The film somehow managed to able to create a silly, fun movie that can brighten up anyone’s gloomy day.
The monsters themselves were great as always. I mean they are the reason why we want to watch this movie, right? Kong in this movie was basically Caesar from the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, minus the talking. I don’t know who did the motion capture for Kong, but he must have had inspiration from those movies and he did a good job. Godzilla was…Godzilla. He was almost painted as the bad guy until we find out the reason as to why he is raging out the way he is in this movie.
As for the humans…I didn’t care much except for one person. Kaylee Hottle, who played Skull Island orphan Jia, deserves a standing ovation as the only person who can use sign language with Kong and she carries a lot of the emotional weight in this movie alongside Kong, who also had some emotional resonance. Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall were all right for the roles they played as Monarch scientists Nathan Lind and Ilene Andrews.
Brian Tyree Henry as conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes was interesting but sometimes annoying. Kyle Chandler, reprising his role from King of the Monsters (2019) as Mark Russell, did not do much other than look stern and worried. Millie Bobbie Brown (King of the Monsters and Stranger Things) as Mark’s daughter Madison Russell and Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2) as her friend Josh Valentine are practically doing a Stranger Things-esque arc with Henry’s character. Lance Riddick had a little cameo appearance as the Director of Monarch. Shun Oguri, Demián Bichir, and Eiza González are basically Saturday morning cartoon villains as Ren Serizawa, Walter Simmons, and Simmons’ daughter Eiza Simmons, the leaders of rival tech company Apex Cybernetics.
That’s basically it for the movie as a whole. It is a good monster movie that seems to balance the right amount of silliness with fun aspects of the movie. Some of those sillier aspects: there’s scientific jargon that will breeze right over your head because you’re there to see monsters fight each other. There is also throwaway dialogue to loosely connect the plot to the CG battles.
But the fun comes from the considerable amount of CGI destructive scenes rival the Roland Emmerich disaster movies as well as the unapologetic destructive scenes of the Snyderverse, San Andreas (2015), Rampage (2018), the previous Monsterverse entries. Also, if you’ve seen the original Toho Godzilla movies and The Core (2003), you’ll see that Godzilla vs. Kong feels inspired by these films. By drawing on more successful films in the global Godzilla lore, Godzilla vs. Kong will bring out the inner kid playing with action figures only to have it realized on screen.
*If you want to do your part to help the worldwide effort to stop COVID-19, go to https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/ and donate towards the Salvation Army in their relief efforts. As always, wash your hands, observe social distancing practices, stay indoors, stay healthy, and stay safe.
*In light of the Atlanta shootings and recent upticks of racism against Asian-Americans, Go to https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/ and donate toward the Asian-American Advancing Justice in Atlanta. Let’s make the world a better and wonderful place without hate and replace it with love.
*Julian Jones is a sociology student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When he’s not studying or watching films, he’s practicing for his next performance with the UAB Chamber Singers. Let him know what you thought of his review by leaving him a comment below!