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Godzilla v. Kong

The culmination of the "monster verse" continues its downward trend

As a child playing with action-figures or dolls, one can have the craziest fantasy crossovers in their mind; Gandalf and Dumbledore meeting, Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk sharing a chat, or a fight between Godzilla and King Kong. This latter imagination has been brought to the screen multiple times, though often in campy Japanese films that were ridiculing the concept of such a blockbuster rather than taking it seriously. With the rise of the shared-universe craze, however, Warner Bros. has decided to take these extreme and ridiculous concepts and play them onscreen with a straight face.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is the fourth film in the Warner Bros. “monsterverse,” which united the IP from both titular monsters. This film finally sees both giants share the screen together. In a world where giant monsters named “titans” are rampant, Godzilla is considered the alpha keeping them in check, however, a technological company named Apex, led by a shady man named Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) wants to utilize the secret captive King Kong to develop technology that could regulate and control Godzilla.

The “monsterverse” got started with a promising start with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014). The film wisely chose to focus on human characters, and played with the imagination of viewers, rather that showing Godzilla head-on. Edwards was also successful in adding a sense of mystery and novelty to these giant beings, capturing their size with great effect by having them move much slower and heavier. This was discarded with the campier Kong: Skull Island (2017), but even there, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts was able to see the ridiculousness of his premise and play the film with a tongue-in-cheek awareness. This was not the case with the last two films in the “monsterverse,.” which crafted laughable plots, overstuffed their film with stars, and displayed dizzying and blinding CGI fights.

Godzilla vs. Kong is directed by frequent horror staple Adam Wingard, whose had a track-record of hits and misses, with the enjoyable The Guest (2014), and the not-so engaging Blair Witch (2016) among others. In Godzilla vs. Kong, Wingard seems to lose control of the film by the sheer size of it. He’s forced to cram the casts of past films, while also creating new characters. This is done sloppily and with indifference by the screenwriters. As with Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), the human characters are the most boring and underworked aspects of the film, and yet they occupy the majority of the film’s runtime. If Wingard had the wisdom to not take this film too seriously, it might have salvaged a sense of tone, but Godzilla vs. Kong seems to be too sure of itself, its outlandish plot and its blatant disregard for logic and physics, to pay much heed.

As a result the film’s stars, both returning and new, are left to their own devices, trying to salvage the minimal and lazy character work done by the screenwriters. The actual fight between the two titular monsters is nothing out of this world either. I was reminded a lot of the similarly themed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), in how the film was structured. With a supposed build-up to the epic fight, which only takes 20 minutes before a secret villain is crammed in. Both films featured their promised fights in median and by-the-numbers fashion, only appeasing viewers thanks to the immense special effects budgets, which at times was almost nauseating in how much movement and chaos was splattered on the screen.

The original Japanese film King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), was played as a satire, meant to be poking fun at the desperation that Japanese TV had in terms of their rating wars. Hollywood seems to have taken the wrong message from that film, instead doing exactly what was being mocked. Once you give up your hopes at having any semblance of a mediocre plot or engaging characters, you might find enjoyment in simply pointing out the embarrassing plot holes and contradictions. Godzilla vs. Kong is the kind of film that is conceived as an 8-year-old playing with figures, only with a $200 million dollar budget this time.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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