• Zach Youngs

Movie Review: Godzilla vs. Kong

DISCLAIMER: I didn't see this film in a theater. I watched it with my HBO Max subscription. I highly recommend you don't go see it in a theater even if it is playing near you. That's too risky with all the virus cases across the U.S. and the world. Stay safe!

Godzilla vs. Kong is the bringing together of two of the most recognizable and beloved film monsters of all time. The two of them duke it out for supremacy as to which one will be the apex predator of Earth. There are also some humans with pesky human problems. One of which is that megacorporation Apex is devising a way to rid the Earth of Godzilla once and for all, but is it a saving grace or the death of all life on Earth? The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Ronnie Chieng, John Pirruccello, Chris Chalk, Kong, and Godzilla. The film is directed by Adam Wingard and is written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein with a story by Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields. The film is in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max for the next 30 days.

Ever since 2008 major studios have been desperate to find their own cinematic universes to pull in intellectual property that's just sitting out there waiting to be plucked and mashed, however clumsily, together in an effort to emulate the success of the Marvel film franchise. There have been varying degrees of success. I've lost count of the number of times Universal has tried to jumpstart its classic monster movie universe (I think we're on try #4 with the success of Invisible Man). And while Kong vs. Godzilla is exactly that type of slapdash corporate synergy, it has something that those other franchise universe attempts don't...

It's got big fucking monsters beating the shit out of each other. I struggle to believe that three years after the worldwide horrific devastation of Godzilla: King of Monsters, humanity would still exist let alone be able to be as technologically advanced, but that aside, Godzilla vs. Kong far outpaces it in special effects, fights, and drama likely because it's not trying to do too many things all at once or introducing almost a half dozen mega monsters in one go.

I like story elements of that previous film and I like that they carry over here. There's something about one of the previous films being a prequel, though that ruins the momentum a little bit. It made it confusing as to why Kong was where he was and how he came to be like that. There was also A LOT I forgot from movie to movie about where all these creatures are coming from and why they've awakened, but that doesn't matter as much because we get what we came for. We get to see the giant monsters duke it out.

What's on display here is the incredible action of Kong fighting Godzilla. We as an audience obviously relate to Kong because he is a creature who resembles us in many ways, but the gray of the motivations of each creature is really intriguing. Neither one of the monsters is fighting for us, they're fighting for the sake of domination, yet they understand that mutually assured destruction is no good for either of them. Without giving too much away, I'll say that when Kong and Godzilla team up, it's more glorious than anything else.

Though, what has always endeared me to this collective universe is that it never shies away from the fact that we humans are our own worst enemies. These creatures aren't killing us because they're cruel or evil or whatever. They're killing us because we're in the way of them stopping something terrible from happening. We're in the way of the continued balance of the Earth and the continuation of the planetary ecosystem. The creatures don't want the Earth destroyed because they live here too. It's where they keep all their stuff.

I also like that we get the most realistic human so far. Brian Tyree Henry's Bernie is not a caricature. Trust me when I say after working at a bookstore with a healthily selling conspiracy theory shelf, this is not a caricature. I was honestly frightened how spot on Henry's mannerisms, logorrhea, and aversion to the uncomfortableness of others was. These people actually exist and Henry brings them to life with startling effect. Proof of why he may be my favorite actor at this point. He's so good it's scary.

Kong vs. Godzilla is well balanced. It never feels bloated and its sub two hours runtime keeps it moving at a great clip. The best thing, though is it absolutely delivers on its premise and not only that, but there's minimal cutting back to human reactions of the big throwdown, we just get to marvel at the horrifying destruction these two can unleash on the world. I suggest you see it and, when it's safe to do so, I suggest you see it on the biggest screen possible.

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