Film review: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’

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Jacob Baker, Lifestyle Editor

For such a massive pop culture rivalry, “Godzilla vs. Kong” marks only the second meeting between Godzilla and Kong in nearly 60 years. Seeing Godzilla and Kong duke it out is as entertaining as expected, but even two of the mightiest titans can’t save the film’s lackluster screenplay. 

In the film, the hollow Earth theory has been confirmed, and the Earth has various deep tunnels that up until this point have only been accessible by titans. Monarch and Apex Cybernetics believe valuable resources lie within the confines of hollow Earth. In order to find these tunnels and the contents within them, both companies will use Kong to lead them to hollow Earth. Meanwhile, Godzilla is attacking civilization for unknown reasons, and tracking down Kong to take out his rival. 

As one could expect, the action and visuals are the premier aspects of “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Director Adam Wingard, who has an impressive line of horror and thriller films under his belt, pushes the pedal to the floor in terms of visceral intensity during the action sequences. Godzilla is ravenous, much like millennium-era Godzilla. Shared with Kong’s brute force, their faceoffs are explosive, grimacing top-notch monster action. Wingard’s additional focus on POV shots creates another welcome layer of brutal immersion. 

Composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL provides a nice techno and synth laced orchestral score that cements Godzilla’s and Kong’s larger-than-life scale. To accompany that aspect of the film, the film’s lavish aesthetic of neon colors works surprisingly well. Godzilla neon-soaked in Hong Kong is pure eye candy.  

In the current MonsterVerse, its creators have taken a straight-forward yet welcome update to the franchise. “Godzilla vs. Kong” is much more cartoonish than the other films. While “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” definitely felt more campy with its plot, the monsters weren’t. The problem here in this film is consistency with the other films. 

Godzilla and Kong are humanized hardcore here, which wouldn’t be such a glaring problem if they were like that in the other films. Seeing Kong wake up for his day and taking a stroll to get his morning shower isn’t needed. Same thing with Godzilla practically laughing at Kong at one point in the film. 

Most of these can be traced back to the screenplay written by screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein. As long as filmmakers are persistent on making human stories the focal point of these films, the human aspects are going to be criticized.

In 2014’s “Godzilla,” the human story was good for the most part. The human story within “Kong: Skull Island” made sense, but was hollow in execution, and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” human aspects were serviceable enough to push the film along. In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the human aspects are so critical to the plot and runtime, but it’s arguably the worst out of the MonsterVerse.  

Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler reprise their roles from “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” as Maddison and Mark Russell, respectively. Yet, their characters serve no purpose in the film, and if they were removed, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. 

Alexander Skarsgård as Dr. Nathan Lind, Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews, Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes and Kaylee Hottle as Jia are the rest of the main characters within the film that all give OK performances, but none are worth falling head over heels for. Shun Oguri is also brought into this film as the son of Dr. Ishirō Serizawa; which ends up being a rather pointless addition because there is no development whatsoever behind his character and his motivations. 

No matter how good the visuals and the action is in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the painfully lazy screenplay puts too much stake in the shallow and undeveloped human aspects, making “Godzilla vs. Kong” more of a chore with some exciting moments spliced throughout instead of an exciting and deadly reunion between two pop culture figures.