GODZILLA VS. KONG [Review]: Monkey Good, Humans Bad.

Chris Sawin
@evilbutters

After defeating King Ghidorah in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong picks up five years later. Godzilla is now king of the monsters and attacks facilities and unsuspecting cities at his leisure making him practically sinister in nature. With Kong as the only giant creature Godzilla hasn’t done battle with, he’s all that stands in his way of reigning supreme. Saving mankind fits in there on Kong’s agenda somewhere, as well…

As a rabid Godzilla fan, there’s no shame in saying that Kong should have stood triumphant in Godzilla vs. Kong. He is given so much screen time and so much backstory that it’s impossible not so sympathize with him. He even makes these humble purring-like groans that signify how gentle he is as a giant ape; you know, in between ripping off heads, chopping off limbs, and raising severed spinal cords into the air as if he leaped straight out of Mortal Kombat or Primal Rage.

You end up adoring Kong over the course of Godzilla vs. Kong. The film opens with him waking up on Skull Island as you witness his morning routine. He takes a shower in a waterfall, he admires the sunrise, and he scratches his butt to satisfaction. You could say he’s just like people. Kong is kept calm by a little Iwi deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle). Maybe it’s because Jia is literally unable to speak, but she’s easily the most enjoyable human character in the film. She serves a purpose and she doesn’t hurt your brain when you try to think about why she’s even in the picture.

The human characters were imbecilic in Godzilla: King of the Monsters to the point where you rooted for their extinction. If you’re going to be that dumb, you shouldn’t exist. Godzilla vs. Kong swaps dumb for boring. Half of the human characters, the returning Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) along with her friend Josh (Julian Dennison) and conspiracy podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), spend the film discussing conspiracies involving Godzilla and it kills brain cells due to how dull it is. Bernie at least has knowledge of the scientific facility they end up at, but Josh is literally only around because he has a van and to pour a flask of alcohol on a computer to portray how good of a hacker he is.

The other humans, the other returning character Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter Jia, and a geologist named Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), monitor Kong’s behavior. Nathan has been researching Hollow Earth. Researchers now believe a resource or some sort of creature resides in the core of Hollow Earth that could rival Godzilla and save mankind. They rely on Kong to lead them there with the promise that some of his kind may also be there.

At the same time, as if that wasn’t enough, the CEO of Apex Cybernetics Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) is secretly creating Mechagodzilla to destroy everyone and everything for fun. Mechagodzilla is piloted by Ren Serizawa (Shun Oguri), the son of Ishiro Serizawa. You know, that guy who died resurrecting Godzilla at the end of King of the Monsters. Now his son wants to kill Godzilla with a giant robot.

Godzilla is really only featured in each of his films for five to twenty seven minutes apiece. There’s a really interesting chart that breaks down Godzilla’s screen time over the course of the franchise (it currently seems to be missing King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong). But if it wasn’t for the last battle, Godzilla would have around five minutes of screen time in Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s something to keep in mind after the result of the one on one brawl in Hong Kong between Godzilla and Kong as well as their final battle against Mechagodzilla.

The highlight of these films is typically the monster battles and all of them are pretty outstanding in Godzilla vs. Kong. The underwater battle is a little disappointing since the CGI is a little clunky when it comes to Godzilla, especially when he’s shown underwater. The Hong Kong battle is incredible with the night time setting set against the fluorescent lighting of the city.

Everything in Hollow Earth is great, too. Weird physics and gravitational rules combined with crazy monsters you only see for a few minutes like the Warbats and the Hellhawks (or Gobblehawks since they have noticeable turkey wattles).

Many have claimed Godzilla vs. Kong is the best of the Legendary trilogy, but it’s fairly weak outside of the monster battles. Kong is the star of the picture. He looks amazing and is generally awesome every time he’s on screen. He literally has an axe made of one of Godzilla’s dorsal plates and it’s crazy sick.

After going out of his way to save mankind in two films, Godzilla is just suddenly a bad guy here because he’s a giant prehistoric monster, because he’s got sand in his giant nuclear dinosaur metaphorical vagina because he can sense a robot version of himself lurking around, and because a giant ape is trying to take his crown. And the humans are monstrously boring.

Nobody cares if you shower in bleach and have created some tiny circuitry thing out of a toaster. Can we please just see more of the giant lizard fighting the giant monkey, please? Also, the Mechagodzilla design is lackluster at best that Ready Player One executed better.

Godzilla vs. Kong suffers from what other versus films such as Freddy vs. Jason or the Alien vs. Predator films also suffered from. These films put too much value in humans when the audience just wants to see more of the on-screen monsters they either paid hard money or chose to stream to see.

That’s why if Legendary chooses to keep this franchise going they should do All Monsters Attack or something involving Monster Island next where humans can be spectators at best and monsters wreak havoc for up to two straight hours. Stop feeding fans unbearable human excretion and trying to pass it off as Godzilla gold. 3/5 Massive Monkey Mayhem Bibles.

-Chris Sawin

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