The MonsterVerse goes full-tilt bonkers with Godzilla vs. Kong, a smackdown between the infamous big boys that’s good enough as long as they are punching each other or somebody else. As for the humans in this series, I wish they would just shut up.
Gareth Edwards started the MonsterVerse in 2014 with his Godzilla, which did fine on the human front, because it had Bryan Cranston—albeit only for part of it—delivering some real acting. Since Cranston kicked the bucket, the likes of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Millie Bobby Brown and a confused Sally Hawkins have had to handle the drama since. They, for the most part, have sucked.
That suckage continues in this installment, with dopey subplots involving Brown, Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard that do nothing but help producers save on huge special-effects scenes. As for those special effects, they are some of the best in the franchise. Director Adam Wingard produces big battles between the monsters in broad daylight and a neon-lit Hong Kong that make the movie totally worth seeing.
A few years ago, when this battle was announced, it seemed crazy, because Godzilla is so damn gigantic, and King Kong is just a big gorilla. Well, Kong has been growing over the years, and now he is REALLY BIG, so the matchup comes off as a convincing battle. Yes, Godzilla has the radiation breath, but Kong is squirrely enough to figure out ways to avoid it. Kong can also throw a haymaker that gives Godzilla a definite run for his money. As Wingard promised during the pre-release hype, one of them does fall—but it’s entirely unpredictable which one that will be.
Why are they fighting? Godzilla is pissed because humans are messing with his status as the King of Monsters by building a Mechagodzilla, so he’s running around destroying cities. Meanwhile, Kong is still alive and being sheltered by humans, for some reason—and, again, Godzilla wants to remain King of the Monsters. When they eventually meet, Godzilla is definitely the bad guy.
There’s some nonsense involving the hollow earth and Kong’s birthplace. There’s some sort of energy source down there that humans need, so everybody races into the earth in futuristic cars after tricking Kong into getting sucked down there first. This stuff is nutty and handled poorly—and the film suffers because it presents these plot elements too seriously and melodramatically. If anything, the writers should’ve gone for a crazier and perhaps comedic tone with these scenes.
As for this film’s ranking in the MonsterVerse, I’d put it third out of four. The first Godzilla is still the best of the bunch, followed by Kong: Skull Island. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a truly bad film, while the others get passing grades.
There’s no telling where the series may go from here now that the two stars have battled. The idea of Godzilla fighting another moth or giant lizard sounds boring. I’m calling for a prequel where humans are just cave-dwellers, and the monsters simpily stomp on them and use them as hors d’oeuvres for their monster parties.
Godzilla vs. Kong is playing at open theaters across the valley. It’s also streaming on HBO Max.