After a few false starts and the lack of spectacle that was Godzilla King Of The Monsters, director Adam Wingard has found the right balance of monsters, action, sci fi and annoying humans to deliver the most perfect movie in the Monsterverse so far.
The story stars off with Kong, it’s been a hot minute since we checked in to see the ramifications from the Skull Island film, Kong is still on the island just now trapped in a disguised habitat due to a storm that has ravaged the island making it uninhabitable. This is closely monitored by Monarch, and the Kong whisperer Ilene (Rebecca Hall) and her daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who are attempting to contact Kong and help him adapt to his new home. Things are starting to go awry when Godzilla randomly attacks a private tech company Apex and their laborotories. This prompts CEO Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) to hire a scholar Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) whose research on Kong’s origins may just be the thing they need to fight back against Godzilla.
Meanwhile Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) doesn’t believe that Godzilla would deliberately hurt humans and starts her own investigation with Josh (Julian Dennison) and conspiracy theorist podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry). Together they investigate Apex and attempt to uncover what they may be hiding.
The previous Godzilla films have tried to make us care about the human characters and haven’t been successful at all at doing so. In this film they are still trying to do the same thing, however the balance between the monsters, human dialogue and adding in a sci fi element all appears to be working really well. While the lines are stereotypical of a film of this genre, the rest of the film is such a good time that this is easily forgiven. Rather than focus heavily on Madison this time around, the focus on Ilene, Jia and Nathan is allowed more time to breathe and their connection to Kong really is the heart of the film. Communication through sign language (Jia is deaf) allows for such a huge movie with loud moments to have some quiet and emotive ones too.
Visually the film is completely bonkers. The neon lights of Hong Kong make the city glow as the two titans punch each other and throw their weight around the sprawling metropolis. One of the fights takes place at sea blending underwater and on top of ship sequences that allow the action to be in more slow motion so you don’t get too last in the flurry of fists. Cinematographer Ben Seresin clearly has an eye for being able to bring the differing worlds of Godzilla and Kong together to blend them beautifully while still carving out a unique space. This is evident in the Skull Island and Kong scenes with a jaw dropping prehistoric setting and some messing with gravity that left an impression.
It’s not just the visuals, but also the score from Junkie XL (who scored last week’s equally impressive Zack Snyder’s Justice League) really became noticeable when the film turns from monster action film to a sci fi sprawling epic. The change in tone of the score mesh with the visuals and help this transition feel seamless and really help make the shift believable.
The monsters themselves have never looked better with Godzilla getting a significant visual upgrade from the last film and the way they have been able to blend water as he leaps out of the ocean is really noticeable this time around. Similarly Kong has a sense of familiarity from the Skull Island film but is much more emotive than in the previous film. The interactions that Kong had with humans made it feel like a motion capture performance, unfortunately it wasn’t, we have just been able to come this far in computer technology in films now. The other titans and creatures that litter the movie are also Toho-esque and emit a creepy green goo reminscent of a Nickelodeon sliming that keeps things PG-13.
Most people will want to know if there is a clear winner, and yes to be clear, in my humble opinion there is most definitely a winner and a loser. There are 4 rounds and a clear KO that should settle any debate about who is the strongest (don’t worry, noone says Martha!) While this is a big part of the movie, seeing the two monsters team up to fight the REAL big bad is a sight to behold. While they won’t be co-hosting a party anytime soon, it was great to see that two of cinema’s most loved monsters won’t rip each other apart at the end of the day. What surprised me was how much I cared about Kong. I have always been a Godzilla fan, but the relationship between the human characters and their connection to Kong and his demeanor really turned me around.
This is Wingard’s first round in the big budget director chair after making other films like You’re Next and and Death Note, the director seems to understand what audiences didn’t like in the previous Godzilla film (having battles and shots at night being too dark or blurry to look good) and completely turns it on its head here with monstrous battles taking place in the middle of the day, filling the screen and slowing it down just enough that audiences won’t get lost.
Godzilla Vs Kong is finally a film in the Monsterverse worth heading to the cinema for. The big budget action demands the cinema screen for optimum viewing and a Dolby DTS surround sound system required to get the most out of it. While the human stuff has improved dramatically from the previous films, it’s not going to be winning any academy awards for writing or performances and that’s ok. A film like this is fine with mediocre dialogue, the audience is here to watch these two cinema icons fight and Wingard and team deliver this in droves. After a year in lockdowns and a huge cinema drought, it is exciting to head back to the cinema for a big screen blockbuster worth leaving the house for.
Godzilla Vs Kong is in cinemas starting 25th of March in Australia.
With big fists of fury, Godzilla Vs Kong packs a huge punch providing the biggest blockbuster that you MUST see on the big screen.