Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home. Along for the ride is Jia, an orphaned girl who has a unique and powerful bond with the mighty beast. However, they soon find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla as he cuts a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the planet.
The MonsterVerse series of movies have proven to be very divisive ever since its inception with the release of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla. Some people really enjoyed that movie and others hated it because, in all honesty, it didn’t actually have too many scenes with the titular monster. Then we got a King Kong-centered film, Skull Island, which was also divisive. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, released in 2019, ended with a set-up for an epic throwdown sometime soon between the two most deadly monsters out there – King Kong and Godzilla.
This new film directed by Adam Wingard is not the first to depict a legendary showdown between the two, however. In 1962, audiences received King Kong vs. Godzilla, which is almost universally regarded as ridiculously cheesy and underwhelming. But since we live in a day and age in which technology is supremely advanced and CGI is so remarkable, it’s genuinely surprising that it’s taken until 2021 to get a proper Godzilla vs. Kong movie.
But now we finally have it. And so, how is it? Well, it’s actually quite fun for a lot of the running time, even if you can get past some of the film’s heavy flaws. Just like all of the other movies in the franchise before it, Godzilla vs. Kong has the tendency to focus on human characters far too much. There’s a lot of drama between the humans on Earth, and it’s honestly just extremely boring to have to sit through.
The only two human characters I genuinely enjoyed watching were Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison Russell and Brian Tyree Henry’s Bernie Hayes. Brown was also a breakout in the aforementioned Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and she may be even better here. She is not just the one girl from Stranger Things. She is a wonderful actress with a ton of talent and she gets to show that here.
Brian Tyree Henry is an absolutely hilarious Apex Cybernetics technician named Bernie and although he is definitely the comedic relief side character, whenever he is on-screen, you’re bound to laugh. His character doesn’t really get a whole lot to do in the grand scheme of things, but he is entertaining to watch, and it seems like Henry had a blast while making this movie.
Aside from those two, the rest of the humans are boring and serve no real purpose in the film sadly. Thankfully, we do get a number of scenes sprinkled in between of the monster versus monster showdown that we were promised in the marketing material. Unfortunately, we don’t get a lot of it though.
Yes, whenever there is a Kaiju fight scene happening, it’s gloriously fun and earth-shatteringly epic to witness, but at the end of the day, I really wish we got just a couple more scenes of it. And of course, it had to end on the most predictable note possible which was a big shame, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a blast while watching these two creatures duke it out on the big screen.
Interestingly enough though, I think this movie should’ve just been a King Kong movie. If you’re a major Godzilla fan, you’re going to be disappointed with a number of things here. Kong gets an absurd amount of screentime whereas Godzilla gets five to ten minutes at most. Sure, losing the Godzilla vs. Kong title would’ve hurt the marketing badly, but some of the movie feels a bit misleading.
And the film also tries to force you to side with King Kong no matter what. So much of the film’s running time is devoted to telling us how Kong is a force of good for the world but Godzilla isn’t. I wish this movie would’ve taken notes from Captain America: Civil War. In that film, we are presented with Team Iron Man and Team Captain America. But the wonderful thing is this – the film lets us decide who we want to win and who we root for. There is no right or wrong side. In Godzilla vs. Kong, there is.
All of these problems aside though, I did enjoy watching this film in the long run. It is still filled with problems that are absolutely frustrating, but the incredibly fun fight scenes, good performances, breathtaking visuals, and great cinematography won me over at the end of the day. Maybe go into Godzilla vs. Kong and lower your expectations just a bit for the best possible experience.
Overall Grade: B-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho
Release Date: March 31, 2021
Running Time: 113 minutes