Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 11th 2021
Two monsters fighting
Regular readers know of my love for big dumb films and the recent revival of the "Monsterverse" from the Legendary studio has been satisfying that itch in me very nicely indeed. So, now, after Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), we have the culmination of an epic series that has been building for seven years.
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
From the Warner Brothers website Directed by Adam Wingard Written by (screenplay) Eric Pearson & Max Borenstein; (story) Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Starring two big CGI monsters (the humans really do not matter)
Okay, let's get this out the way first – this is a film that exists for one reason and one reason only: so we can see two very large monsters beating the living snot out of one another while laying waste to an entire city.
So… what's it about? Synopsis, hopefully without too many spoilers.
Kong is being held in a containment because we discovered in the last film big monsters are ancient enemies and fight for supremacy, to be the "alpha", so the humans are keeping Kong hidden from Godzilla. But Kong realises this at the same time as striking up a friendship with a deaf girl. There's a conspiracy theorist nut who has "infiltrated" (i.e. works at) an "evil corporation" – Apex.
So… we have a conspiracy theory scientist as well and a hollow Earth theory and we need a titan to find our way there because there's an energy supply there. So, Kong is strapped to a huge tanker and drugged and taken to Antarctica. And before we can say, "Hey, where's Godzilla, if he wants to attack other titans?" here comes Godzilla to attack other titans, specifically Kong.
Kong struggling underwater was done brilliantly! We were made to care about a CGI ape! The people – meh. The ape, yes! And then they fight on top of an aircraft carrier. Because of course, they do. And we get the mandatory sky-beam. Why does every single big action film nowadays have to have a sky-beam? Godzilla goes when the humans and Kong fool him into thinking he's won.
Meanwhile, our conspiracy nut and his young female conspiracy nutling go looking for clues after the Godzilla attack. Cut back to Kong who has been flown to Antarctica. He ain't happy, but it beats being a sitting duck on the ocean. And he is conned into entering a cave to go to the hollow Earth. The humans follow in techno-magic vehicles. Kong is "home" in the hollow of Earth. We meet some more titans so Kong kills them.
Back to our conspiracy nutters, who have been transported to Hong Kong. And they see… have you seen the film Pacific Rim where giant robots battle giant monsters? Well, that's this – a robot Godzilla (though an ancillary character calls it Mecha-Godzilla because of course, we need to go back to the old Toho movies) controlled by a person. They feed it one of the lizards from Skull Island we saw Kong kill in his last movie and then we have a system failure.
Godzilla heads for Hong Kong; Kong shows the humans the energy source. Including a palm print so Kong can open the door! Come on! Kong finds the ape version of Thor's Mjollnir – a magic axe, though – and a throne. Our conspiracy crew find the skull of the decapitated head of Ghidorah. The pilot of Mecha-Godzilla is in it, communicating psionically (their term) with the skull in Mecha-Godzilla. This movie's science is silly. Give me monsters fighting! Now Kong's magic axe fits into a specially designed groove and charges up. Evil corporation tries to steal it, Kong not happy, Godzilla tries to blast his way downwards. Kong takes axe, and we has fight!
What the humans do for a while does not matter (like it mattered before). The destruction is immense. Kong hurts his shoulder and Godzilla rips him open. We have a yell-off. Kong looks beaten. And then comes Mecha-Godzilla, and then it becomes sentient and independent and spoilers so I'll stop there.
And the Hollies play us into the closing credits. Because of course, they do. I mean, it's a great song, and probably more timeless than some rap rubbish another studio would have plastered across it, but still…
Okay, let's get to the crux of this. There is only one character in the whole film we, the audience feel anything for, and that is Kong. The humans mean very little, Godzilla is just a force of nature and the final twist in the tale is clearly not anything we need to worry about except as it is the antagonist. There is also an issue with the film that both the conspiracy nuts end up being… right? Yeah, I do not think that is a good thing to be putting forth at an audience that is going to consist of a lot of younger people. We have enough issues with disinformation without our entertainment indicating it might be correct.
But the people and the story are really not what we come to these things for. The one thing we want is the battle of the titans and this film delivers in absolute spades. There are a few Godzilla vs. Kong fights, none outstay their welcome, and it ends up being pretty even who is dominant. They are the perfect length with the perfect amount of destruction. And the CGI is amazing here. Gone are the days of two stuntmen in rubber suits crashing through immaculately curated doll-houses – computers have made everything so much more… real? Well, as real as two incredibly huge creatures battling one another in a populated area can be.
What was really good about this set up was that we saw Kong in our first scene, and then we got to see Godzilla about ten minutes in. They knew what we had all come for and they delivered from the word go. No waiting around here.
The film also looks amazing, not just the creatures. The city rendering is amazing, and the Hollow Earth is just stunning with landscape up and down.
Look, this is not Shakespeare. But it doesn't pretend to be. It does not take itself as seriously as some of its predecessors in this series – it focused on what the people wanted and delivered. This is a "turn your brain off at the door and enjoy it all" film.
I loved this film. This is an absolute gang of fun.