Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong ★★★★

If one wants to talk about a Monsterverse film, it also needs to touch upon the ‘Warner Bros. subject’, that is the currently as often commented about studio going over a path of discussions that range from insane criticisms for creative decisions upon certain popular properties and cinematic universes that shall not be named here for the sake of cohesion. Because thankfully, it’s not always a case of bad doings and disaster results as this film here and the universe around it shows. As for their attempt of using the iconic Godzilla monster character name to, not only building their own cinematic universe by rescuing back and using, not only the Godzilla property, but all the classic Toho monsters colliding in this new crossover movies.

Well though nothing compared with the size and scope of complex connectivity like the Marvel films, the four films that had come out so far stitched and blend so well together with the basics simple of premises: Giant monsters wreaking havoc and the way the same kind of reflects the worst and best of humanity’s past legacy and present, and the very same having their own mythology created around planet Earth creation and their effects they set in our history.

Though nothing as much far in deeply complex, either because the movies never tried to do so, or lacked the ability of convincing that when the early films were still trying to be a tad serious, as much as possible trying to reflect and homage Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla film that brilliantly reflected through a tragedy-monster epic film, a post-nuclear Japan society still enduring the scars of a dark past. While in this MonsterVerse, we went from Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla and its overly serious attempt of placing Godzilla as a real-world event, embodying nature finally fighting back against humanity’s reach of consumedly exploring natural resources and pollute our fauna and flora, but focusing more on that constant build-up to us finally see the big title monster on the screen, spending more time focusing on weak hollow uninteresting human characters.

Then they went to the extremely underrated Kong Skull Island that goes to, not only balancing the big monster action spectacle in variable and exciting form, as placing a group of charismatic human characters in the middle of it and a make an interesting comment of war’s fanaticism facing off against nature, with the big lovable monkey standing in the middle of it all as a nature entity bringing balance to the violent chaos awakened by the humans. And them Godzilla: King of the Monsters was a hard attempt of making a old-school Godzilla film of him fighting other monsters in incredibly goofy as fun ways, and with all the perfect right elements to recreate such, helded with a greatly realized scale of blockbuster spectacle, but bogged down by inconvenient awful human characters that inexplicably receive more attention than the monsters themselves, who are the main focus of the plot at hand.

But here came Adam Wingard, the often either hated or acclaimed indie filmmaker, that more than likely from watching and learning from all the previous film’s hits and misses, earned the directing duties here maybe not for much noticed talent by the studios as he always had been on a subversively experimental level with his films thus far, but rather for being just another indie guy in the likes of Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Gareth Edwards, that could bring fresh ideas and helming to the monsters extravaganza, and of course obey producers hand. Though that’s not what happens here as he seems completely well aware of the kind of film he’s making and knows exactly what audiences want out of it, and goes to make here, completely free of chains, the perfect monster showdown one could ask for to watch and have a heck of a fun time watching every single minute of it!

If King of the Monsters faltered for still trying to be often dramatic and overly serious while trying to mix the corny campiness of Godzilla classics, here in Godzilla vs. Kong, is the corny campiness to a direct degree of constant absurd ludicrous fun that runs the movie along and commands its goals to achieve its quite simple main premise: Giant monkey smacking giant nuclear Lizard in the face. While the intro-credits looks like a fight-bracket introducing the opponents about to go down. Establishing the very basic plot set-up and going straight to the point, barely wasting time on establishing characters or plot element conveniences.

Though surprisingly enough, finding rather an interesting story thread behind everything to leave you engaged and never bored. Holding on with a great pacing structure, completely pleasurable to watch, never wasting too much time on empty uneven human characters trying to force some sort of emotional drama like the previous Godzilla films failed in its empty attempts. Not delaying the monsters screen presence that is literally the first scene till the last, and neither delaying till it lets us see the two titular beasts sharing the same screen. Some may argue this is more of a Kong film as he’s the one where the “main” plot thread relies on, and has the most amount of screen time, while Godzilla only shows up every now and then as a living force of nature destroying some shit.

But for those that complaint he’s very little in the film, he really has the same amount of screen time here that he did in his previous two films, and doing the same he ever does, shows up, wreaks some havoc, go back into the water, while the plot surrounding it revolves around the humans yapping about him and his effects – this time, they only go around arguing what the hell is making him attack human cities so randomly as he only showed to fight other titans. But when he shows up in here, is really something to look forward to, shinning both as a menacing presence as a terrifically entertaining one. This is a movie where you’re bound to see Godzilla making straight up expressions of anger, nods out of respect for the opponent and straight up laughs sadistically, and if you don’t love that, you have no heart!

While the main attractive plot follows the team on the tail of Kong while following him to the entrance to the hollow earth world in the center of the planet, the birth place of the titans in this universe. So we basically have a mix of another typical Godzilla film, interchanged with a Journey to the Center of the Earth, starring Kong as its protagonist. Which really goes to give this incredible and creative sense of mythology that gives an attractive life of potential to this world of monsters, that can keep ongoing non end giving how bonkers ludicrous level it gets here, and so immensely inventive.

And through that, it seemingly manages to capture a very similar tone and feel of the classic Toho monsters films, a wave of unpretentious fun, direct to their premise point, and where the human characters where basic scene props to move the plot forward and nothing more than that. But for a film that gives more attention to the monsters role and their presence on screen being the main goal than its human counterparts not being the Center of attention nor focus here, it has really well more flashed out human characters than previously seen in Monsterverse films thus far (except for maybe Kong: Skull Island whose charismatic cast really sold their presence).

In the Godzilla front we got a tremendous A-list actor like Rebecca Hall playing humanitarian doctor with anxiety personality 2.0, but at least she sounds really genuine in her performance. But the most ironic casting here is Alexander Skarsgård, the apex epitome of sexy masculinity, being placed to play a cowardly nerd, but with a good heart and well intentioned, and thank God it doesn't become another ‘the dumb white guy’ joke. And establishing the little deaf girl relation with Kong isn’t made in a way to introduce him as he’s already established, rather a way to “humanize”, or soften him in the audience eyes.

And works well for its purpose to be the main reason why in the fights against Godzilla you definitely get yourself rooting for Kong as feeling bad for the big monkey when he gets hurt or growls in pain, as cheers loud that even when he still goes down, he has energy enough to get ready for another round against his opponent. If he in his first film was a truculent young monkey, whereas here he is old and grumpy, but docile.

While in the Godzilla front, Millie Bobby Brown definitely has more to do here than she had in the previous film, but not remotely enough to make her presence mandatory, specially Julian Dennison’s character that is there as extra weight (no pun intended) for the group as well as extra comic relief material, but Brian Tyree Henry already had that covered, stealing all his scenes and easily turns his presence enjoyably likeable as the conspiracy theorist podcaster becoming one of the heroes. But really, that’s all about the only humans this movie remotely cares about giving a level of importance, especially in the monsters case, as there’s zero cares for civilians casualties during the big massive cataclysmic destruction scenes.

On the slight occasion the camera goes to captures the ground perspective of the battles, but just let us know the plain obvious, they are either running screaming or toasted to dust among the ashes of the buildings collapsing. If this was a DC film it would get criticized because of that, but as it isn’t, critics seemed to have found new creative arguments to diminish a film solely based on giant monsters fighting each other, calling it uneven, badly conceived, empty and dumb. And guess what?! THE MOVIES KNOWS THAT! This thing is so chock full of stuff that make you laugh of how silly it is!

Things like the hollow earth world seems to have its own sun, as it seems to have free Wi-Fi range; a giant monkey knows sign language (yes, Kong talks, how wonderful is that?!); A grown man and two kids can break into a military facility through a ground tunnel transport and disable a giant robot lizard; you get it right?! It’s dumb and IT KNOWS it’s dumb, and ironically that’s the reason that makes it a smart film! And even at that self-awareness personality, well disguised within a tone that still remotely matches the previous films crazy sci-fi epic journeys with military yapping – but like tones of way better and more engagingly fun to watch, Wingard still finds room to make his own form of subtle commentary through the film!

Is not anything near what Ishiro Honda used to pull off so inquisitively great in the original Toho Monster films, especially in the original and stupidly fun King Kong vs Godzilla that through its dumb corny matinee fun, Honda was really making a demystification of big spectacles created by Western media to distract away from the social tragedies of its period (Kong – the American icon of blockbuster entertainment, being brought to Japan to solve the Godzilla problem – the reflex of war’s trauma still breading and living, genius!), but it does has its own sense of sharp thoughts going into it!

It makes fun of blockbuster generic tropes like the overly expository dialogue from forgettably disposable villains being instantly dismissed as an inconvenience. And specially, subverts the concept structure of those film showdown events, like Batman V Superman, Freddy vs Jason, etc; by not wasting time trying to come up with a dramatic overlong plot about the 'why' they are fighting, the consequences of it and just let them go at it. The least and concise 'why' is here, but is treated as a real secondary support for the real spectacle that is the main title showdown.

That can also be seen especially in the reason for them to fight. If initially is teased as Godzilla is being mind controlled, but that is soon discarded, and ultimately it settles in a fight lead by their own individual nature, with the finality goal of it being who shall stand on top in the end, simple and natural as that! And again learning from the past film faults, if in the first Godzilla all we had were completely darkly framed action scenes where you had to stretch your eyes to try see something, and King of the Monsters rely so much in capturing the gargantuan scale monsters brawl through the human’s perspectives, and loosing the momentum in that lost attempt, specially for standing few and far between.

While here, Wingard just turns the f#ck mode on and places the camera in the middle of the fights between the two brawling beasts. Floating with it between the fight, following the movements in a vibrant way as if it were a roller coaster (sometimes almost literally), exploring it as a WrestleMania match that dominates the final 40 minutes of film with almost non-stop action. Frames the fights capturing from head to toe of the beasts scale without hiding anything, and fills the final fight between the two in Hong Kong with Neon lighting transpiring from all sides!

That hollow earth world seemed like a doped dream taken out of a fantasy kids book melted with an old anime series, and their entrance scene is the 2001 Space Odyssey moment of Wingard, and is mesmerizing to look at! While the main star fight looks like if Nicholas Widing Refn Neon-look met James Wan crazy camera movements, along with the Wingard finesse touch for punch and brutality. When this two go at each other you feel every single blow and damage they took, as it is sadistically painful as glorious to watch. And the last 20 minutes will make the few Pacific Rim fans weep in joy!

And special kudos for the bold decision to settle a final winner for the fight, that went completely in the opposite direction from what the majority of the rooting team for this film expected out of it, with the big gold belt going to giant lizard! And how funny is to notice some clear similarities with another ‘versus’ movie from not so long ago, about a Bat vigilante and a alien from outer space that square off to settle their differences, one acting all in an inexplicably violent rampage and the other just trying to find his place in this world, ending with one pressing a foot on the chest of the other, standing victorious. There’s no Martha to save the monkey tough!

But I call moral victory to Kong! He might have lost in the fists against Godzilla, but he only went down after kicking Zilla’s to the floor and let him eating some building’s debris, as it was the monkey the one to beat down the damm Mechagodzilla that was about to kill off Godzilla single handedly. As also Kong in the end goes to found a home of its own as the sovereign king of the hollow earth, while Gojira still lives in his wet solitude. And for a film that looks to not have much interesting in having thoughts going into its ideas and developments, still can be seen some noticeably smart concepts present here.

Like for example, how the Mechagodzilla final fight is staged. When it starts, Godzilla can barely stand on its paws by the end, and only when Kong intervenes in the fight that not only saves the lizard’s life, but finishes the demonic robot in an epic fashion. But in deeper layers, just notice something: Godzilla is the entity that brings balance to the world, faces the ills created by nature - the titans who destabilize the order of how things are, showing himself to be the king among them. That is why he never attacks humans, they are part of the natural order of things, although he doesn’t care if he step over one or the other while he moves, as he is an animal driven by instinct like any other, the apex predator.

As he only starts attacking the human cities here because he is attracted using the sonar of a deceased titan (Ghidorah) in those regions, and when the time is right, they release the Mecha, a weapon made by men to be a match against Godzilla, and he as a being part of nature, falls and is dominated by human arms superiority. Kong, on the other hand, is the force of living nature! Who counter strikes humans and their interference in brutal fashion, since his solo film and here is no different. He may be surrounded by humans, but it is never tamed by them, even if he is a soft heart with blonde women and little girls. Therefore, it is clear why that he is the only one capable of facing the human weapon and being victorious in the end.

And just like what the Hulk said in that awful but quite fitting quote in Avengers: Endgame said: “I put the brains and the brawn together…Best of both worlds.”, that it perfect summarizes what Godzilla vs Kong has packed to deliver in glorious pop-corn entertainment. Straight to the point but never leaving its own making and ideas behind, while converging all of it just to deliver exactly what it promises out of its premise, and is worth every single minute of the watch! Bring on 32 sequels and at least 20 crossovers and we’ll be good!

Raphael Georg liked these reviews