Release Date: 24/03/2021
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, Demián Bichir
Director: Adam Wingard
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)
Godzilla vs. Kong requires at least a basic knowledge of the premise of the other films of the Warner Bros’ Monster-verse to be on the same page with all that is unfolding on screen. There are numerous references to events, characters, and theories that have been raised and dealt with in the previous films of the franchise and if you didn’t know about them, chances are you will find the proceedings difficult to connect with or even follow. There are at least two characters who trace their precedence to the previous film and the underlying plot of the film draws its inspiration and genesis from Godzilla: King of Monsters.
The film begins with us witnessing the protector of humanity and their unequivocal champion, Godzilla wreaking havoc in one of the facilities of a company known as Apex without any provocation. Lives are lost, the property is damaged and the humans, for the first time, grow weary and terrified of the presence of an apex predator like Godzilla in their midst. However, there are few among the humans who still believe in the titan and feel that there is more to his action than what meets the eye.
Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), the daughter of the famous scientist who unleashed Ghidorah, the three-headed monster on humanity in Godzilla: The King of Monsters, Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry), an Apex employee who also runs his own conspiracy theory podcast and Madison’s self-proclaimed friend, Josh (Julian Dennison) start digging through the rubble of the destroyed Apex facility to find answers to what might have provoked Godzilla into attacking the facility. What they find is shocking.
Meanwhile, the owner of Apex, Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) enlists the services of scientists Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) and Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) to use Kong as an accessory to trace down an energy source hidden in the world that exists in the tunnels of the fabled hollow earth theory. His idea is to use this energy to power a machine that will give the humans something to defend themselves against an onslaught of the titans. As Lind and Ilene slip deeper into the actual mission with Simmons’ team, they realize that his plans may just not be all for the safety of humanity and might have shattering consequences on the delicate balance between man and the titans.
The first half of the film felt very verbose to me. The fact that most of the things that were being said had something or the other to do with the previous films of the franchise only made the dialogue and the proceedings that much more difficult to enjoy. If it was executed with a sense of realism and seriousness, it would be another thing but that is also not the case here. These scenes are peppered with unnecessary and slapstick comedy that after a while starts getting on your nerves. The worse culprit for this aspect of the film would be the character of Bernie that neither adds anything to the film nor is an essential element to forward the plot. The only thing that it does is irritate the audiences with its hyperbolic dialog delivery and irritating mannerisms.
The fact that the first hour of the film only has two action set pieces makes it somewhat underwhelming for the ones who walked in to have a similar experience to Godzilla: The King of Monsters. That film was panned by many critics for having an overkill of action sequences and the makers seem to have responded to the criticism by creating a film that concentrates on its human characters a little more than what was required. Even if the characters were interesting, it might not have felt like being such a drag but that is not the case.
Having said that, once the film enters its final hour, it quickly changes its gear and gives us what we had walked into it for in the first place. The action sequences between Godzilla and Kong made me jump up and down in my seat. While the physicality is in our faces, the action choreography is kept fluid and organic enough for anyone paying attention to understand and enjoy without any problem. The visual effects are one of the biggest strengths of these sequences and the attention to the little details adds a lot to the action sequences. Both Godzilla and Kong are transformed into characters with their own human-like reactions and ways of dealing with different situations and that immediately struck a chord with me.
If that was not enough, the makers had another adversary lined up for Godzilla that most of us have already guessed and one that I won’t spoil for the ones who are walking into this film with an open mind. This three-way climactic battle proved to be the fitting finale to something that the Monster-verse was building up to since the release of the first Godzilla film in 2014 and it was amazing to experience. I was amazed at how the characters were rendered so effectively that they evoked audience response in a way similar to how we react to fights between human heroes and villains. I was cheering for Kong all the way. Therein lies the film’s greatest strength and biggest pull.
The logic, science, seriousness, and rationality of the film are all over the place. It is pointless to ask questions like, what, why, and how as there will never be any fulfilling answers to those. One has to agree that there was a point when the film’s plot went so over the top that it meddled with its likeability to some extent but as soon as the action between the two titans started, the reason and logic took a back seat and the adrenalin-fueled rush took over. Thus it is safe to say that this is not a film for those who look for reason, logic, explanation, and drama in a film. While Godzilla (2014) was in many ways a serious and somber attempt at interweaving all these elements in a monster action film, Kong vs. Godzilla stretches the fabric of logical cinema to its limits and breaks it at many junctures.
Godzilla vs. Kong provides exactly what it promised. It has some of the most outrageous monster violence that we have seen in years. The film adds a touch of humanity to the titular characters allowing the viewers to connect with them and take sides thereby increasing the stakes of the battles and making the viewers an active party to it all. The visual effects and the design of the film are epic and add a lot to it. However, one has to have knowledge of the previous films of this series and also have the patience to sit through a verbose and somewhat dragged-on first half to get to the fun stuff. The ones who do make it to the end are rewarded handsomely.