Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong ★★★

Watched in the cinema (7th visit in 2021)

No, Warner cannot be really satisfied with the commercial success of their new Godzilla series. Although none of the films was a complete economic disaster, studio headquarters had certainly hoped for a little more from their Hollywood version of the well-known giant lizard. Above all, "Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters" fell significantly short of expectations. It's just a shame that while this was being said, "Godzilla vs. Kong", the fourth part of their Monsterverse, was already a done deal. This is exactly what has now finally been released, this time with Adam Wingard in the director's chair. Warner is thus once again relying on an auteur of modern genre cinema for their new Godzilla film. Previously, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) and Michael Dougherty (Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters) were allowed to let off steam with gigantic budgets, and now it's Wingard.

Wingard may have upset fans of the original with his Netflix production "Death Note", but with "The Guest" he established himself as a hope of US genre cinema and showed his preference for the exploitative side of the 1980s. Now "Godzilla vs. Kong" is not exactly the material that would lend itself to such a pop-cultural bow, but in fact he briefly succeeds in giving the big giant brawl a refreshingly unusual visual patina thanks to neon lights in one of the visually strongest scenes. This is then virtually the starting shot for the actual reason why one watches this film: Two immeasurably huge monsters fight their bones out.

The monstrousness was already the clear main attraction in the predecessors, but "King of the Monsters" was particularly disappointing here. On the one hand, because the fights between Godzilla and his opponents were hardly discernible thanks to the nocturnal setting and constant rain, and on the other hand, because the film made the mistake of believing that the human protagonists were equal to the monsters. This coupled with a stretched narrative and far too much exposition made this King of the Monsters quite a disappointment. So it's a good thing Wingard is trying to do better.

"Godzilla vs. Kong" also bubbles over with uninteresting characters and expositional blah-blah, but the whole thing is now wrapped up narratively much more quickly. In general, this entry in the series seems more streamlined and focused than its immediate predecessor. The makers know what they and we want: Bombast and epic orgies of destruction. That's exactly what we get here, but only after a certain waiting time. It takes almost 40 minutes until the first clash of the title characters, and even longer until the battle really picks up speed. Before and in between, Wingard and his scriptwriters indulge in fantasy. There are moments when "Godzilla vs. Kong" seems like a sci-fi film, other times like a fantasy adventure. All this, of course, is just a means to an end so that the big monster brawl can finally begin in earnest.

When it does, there's a lot to see. The big fight may be a bit short, and there's no denying that the whole story around it is absolute rubbish, but it's nice as well as honest that no attempt is made to hide this in any way. "Godzilla vs. Kong" wants to be just that: Humbug. The political and cultural roots of the giant pangolin no longer play any role in this Hollywood version. This work wants to be fun for all those who find it entertaining when two creatures the size of skyscrapers slap the wrinkles out of each other's faces.

The animation is superbly done and in the course of the plot there are several other monsters (both big and small) to discover, which make it clear again and again that there are many possibilities for further excursions in this world, in which neither Kong nor Godzilla necessarily have to play a role.

For a continuation of Warner's monster universe, Godzilla vs. Kong provides a good orientation for upcoming filmmakers who try their hand at the franchise. Perhaps they will then be able to unleash a truly satisfying, crowd-pleasing Hollywood Godzilla. Unfortunately, "Godzilla vs. Kong" is still too caught between the will to offer brute and unreal spectacle and the attempt to somehow make a functioning story out of it. It succeeds in the former (at least when it gets going), but the latter remains a problem child. This becomes clear, among other things, by the fact that the best character in the film is not a scientist, soldier or civilian, but mega-lizard Godzilla. But compared to the past, things have really improved. But new fans are not recruited in this way. But was this a goal...?

Clearly one of Warner's aims was to get the film into cinemas in markets without HBO Max and that's where it belongs. Despite the movie's shortcomings, the blockbuster has a crystal-clear screen presence. Whether it's the two titans slamming into each other or images projected from alien worlds, "Godzilla vs. Kong" belongs in the cinema and celebrates the strengths of cinematic theatre impressively and with gusto of grandeur and debauchery. After a month-long abstinence from cinema, the spectacle is a good start to a (hopefully) cinematic season for the masses.

Long live the cinema!

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