Godzilla Vs Kong **1/2
One Liner Review:
A fun movie filled with giant CGI action, the characters are pretty boring, but the action is certainly enjoyable.
This is without a doubt a fun movie. It’s a movie that knows how to give us CGI action at its finest, and it knows to not let the plot go on for too long without an action scene. Seeing these two creatures of legend duke it out is a lot of fun, and the movie is smart enough to give us multiple fights pitting the two against each other (unlike Batman Vs Superman.) The problem is that the human characters are pretty dull and boring. And they are the ones we are really following. It’s not like Godzilla or Kong get any dialogue. It’s the humans who are the protagonists, and they aren’t very interesting. Not that they’re terrible or anything, but the villains are a little too obvious and cliched, and the attempts at humor generally fall flat. Still, for the amazing action and fights between the two creatures, this movie works as a B movie filled with mindless fun.
Godzilla Vs Kong is okay. It’s a movie that most certainly knows what it is, knows what its fanbase wants, and gives it to them. So what’s the problem, right? The problem is that it’s not very smart at all. The problem is that we don’t care even a little about the human characters. And the problem is that there is actually too much going on. Too many storylines, too many characters. In fact, what we really have here are two different sets of characters, and two different, independent stories. There are the characters who are following Godzilla and then there are the ones who are following King Kong. And that would be fine, if only some of these human stories were a little more interesting.
With the first story, we have Brian Tyree Henry conspiracy podcast host, Bernie Hayes. He rants and raves on the air like a lunatic, for the purposes of giving us comedy, and his theory is that Godzilla, who keeps attacking different locations on earth, is up to something. Godzilla is attacking APEX labs around the globe. Hayes believes there’s a reason why. APEX is the giant technology conglomerate company. Basically the bad guys. Even when they’re not telling us these are the bad guys yet, you just know they are by the way they have so much money and don’t seem to be interested in anyone’s well-being, including that of the monsters. They (and by they I mean Walter Simmons, the head of APEX, ) just seek ultimate power and control, almost like a Bond villain.
So the first story is Hayes teaming up with two teenagers, Madison, (Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things and Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison from Hunt For the Wilderpeople and Deadpool 2.) Together the three of them break into secret APEX labs, run around dark ominous hallways, and try not to get caught while uncovering deep dark secrets of conspiracy. This is the weakest plot in the movie, mainly because these characters are so annoying and are trying for humor way too hard. The other storyline involves the Monarch scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall,) who is studying Kong with her adopted daughter, Jiya. Simmons visits Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard,) another scientist, and convinces him that they have discovered a new life force in the center of the earth. He wants Kong to lead them there. So Lind needs to convince Andrews to help, and together they need to get Kong to bring them to this new world in the earth’s center.
On a positive note, the movie does give us scenes of our monsters early on, and doesn’t make us wait to see them the way so many monster movies do, (ever since Jaws.)The start of the movie features Kong in a Monarch base, being studied under in a forcefield-protected dome of sorts (the hexagon-beehive skyline as the dome’s roof is very Cabin in the Woods-like.) Then we see Godzilla attack one of those APEX facilities at night (as Hayes is there trying to steal some information.) And then we get the proposal from Simmons to try to get Lind to help. The problem here is there there are too many characters and too many stories. It feels.a little like a Transformers movie, packed with stars who are given very little to do.
Lind and Andrews and Jiya agree to bring Kong away from the Monarch facility to try to get him to help. Andrews justifies it to Jiya, who has a special relationship with Kong, by telling her that maybe Kong’s family will be found in this new world they are about to discover, in the center of the earth. The world is called Hollow Earth. And as they are transporting Kong to the point where he can get into the earth, Godzilla picks up on his scent and attacks. This is a battle at sea. Kong is on an aircraft carrier deck. Godzilla can apparently detect anything moving in the water. And so he attacks Kong, a bunch of fighter planes try to shoot him unsuccessfully, and we get our first fight. It’s very much like a WWF fight, with both creatures standing up and throwing punches at each other. And it’s a lot of fun.
The fight ends with Godzilla winning and with Kong playing dead. Godzilla leaves and the scientists continue with their plan, only now they will transport Kong to the location by air so that Godzilla doesn’t pick up on the scent again. They use helicopters to airlift Kong to a spot in the snow covered mountains, and the team of humans prepares to follow Kong through a hole into the center of the earth. They are now being lead by Maya Simmons (Eliza Gonzalez, from Baby Driver,) the daughter of the APEX head. And they will be traveling in vehicles called HEAVS, which look like futurist rovers from some ridiculous sci-fi time travel movie. There’s a journey through the earth’s core, with all kinds of neon lights and laser-like images, as their vehicle is thrust through different dimensions. And then they end up in Hollow Earth, which is like a prehistoric time filled with giant beasts and creatures. The idea is that Skull Island was a version of Hollow Earth above ground and Hollow Earth is the version that is inside the earth. All of this sounds really stupid. The explanations don’t feel like they are even trying. And if the plot is about getting Kong to lead them to a new world inside the earth, then that should be the only plot. Here, it is only half the story, and the other half is about Godzilla in another part of the world.
Godzilla is in Hong Kong. He’s attacking another APEX base there. And if things weren’t silly enough already, get this one… all of our characters end up here, in Hong Kong, due to the most ridiculous of ways. Hayes, Madison, and Valentine unknowingly board a monorail that takes them through underground tunnels and brings them to Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Godzilla uses his radioactive breath to fire into the earth and create a hole right to the earth’s center and wouldn’t you know it, the hole leads to where Kong is in middle earth. So Kong is able to climb out of the hole (as are the scientists who are there with him,) and be in Hong Kong. And all of this is happening while the villains are finally revealing their true intentions and evil sides in the most clunky of ways. Maya, for example, tries to take a sample of the ground from Hollow Earth and is stopped by Andrews, who says, “this is power beyond our understanding. You can’t just drill into it.” Instead of answering that the reason why she is drilling into it is so that they can study it and learn to understand it, Maya replies, “Actually we can. My father gets what he wants. That’a APEX property now.” This ridiculous dialogue continues with Andrews saying, “you can’t just strip it for parts.” At any point Maya can chime in that they are trying to take a sample to study it, and suddenly she wouldn’t seem so villainous, but instead she continues to say lines that make her seem like all she cares about it money.
And all of this leads to our two giant titans in Hong Kong duking it out for another fight. The LED lit city at night as the backdrop for this massive fight, as well as the way Godzilla glows when he opens his mouth, (and more, at one point even the plates on Godzilla’a back light up and glow here, are definitely reminiscent of Pacific Rim. And that’s a good thing, because those giant Kaiju fights in the middle of an LED city were pretty fantastic. But this movie doesn’t stop the copying there. It also brings in another giant creature to fight who is controlled by a human. In fact, the creature is controlled by wiring a humans brain into the skull of another creature who has been killed. The way a pilot controls the skull by wearing it and plugging into it to be one with the creature is directly out of Pacific Rim (the bridge, they called it there.) And it gets worse… the creature we are talking about is a Mech Godzilla – a giant robot version of Godzilla.
Naturally the movie has our two hero titans join forces to take down this Mecha Godzilla at the end. This is something all versus movies featuring two characters we like from their individual movies, tend to do at the end. Batman Vs Superman is a recent example, with the heroes fighting each other before teaming up to take down Doomsday. To this movies credit, unlike that mess of a superhero film, they don’t show MechGodzilla in the trailers. He is left for a surprises here, which makes his appearance that much cooler. But even still, a teammup to lead to a giant fight against a new enemy is pretty lame and it is certainly cliched. Captain America Civil War did it right, but having the big fight at the end really be about our two heroes against each other, and not have them suddenly join forces to fight someone else. But it’s understandable why movies do tend to go for this teamup route… it gives audiences something they weren’t expecting to see and let’s them to cheer for both of their heroes at once instead of having to side with one of them and not the other.
Speaking of that, Godzilla Vs Kong definitely does give us a solid amount of fighting between the two titans (unlike Batman Vs Superman,) and it even does crown a champion. The movie really does treat this like a boxing match, with rounds and everything. Not literally of course, but the first round is on the aircraft carrier in the first half. Then there’s a two part fight in the second half. The two creatures go at it and Kong knocks Godzilla down. That leads to Lind’s line, “looks like Kong takes round two.” And then there’s still a final round after that, with a clear winner. That one line by Lind is so important because it puts things in perspective and establishes that the end is not just one fight or one round, but actually two. And all of this is important because, let’s be real… the reason people are coming to see this movie is because they want to see the two titans fight. That’s what they were promised, and that’s what they get. The story surrounding all of the fights isn’t that great, but it is certainly ambitious, and deserves credit for that. After all, it does take us to a whole other world in the center of the earth. The human characters are the worst part of the movie, and while that is to be expected, it still would have been nice if their stories could have been just slightly more believable or interesting, or if they gave us a reason to care. This movie is not smart, but from time to time it is kind of fun. I imagine it is one of those movies that will get better with multiple viewings, as one can look at it more from the point of view of what it is doing than that of what it isn’t. On a first viewing, however, the movie is just okay, and while it does a nice job with the fights, it still leaves a lot to be desired.