First thing first, Adam Wingard’s (“You’re Next,” “Blair Witch,” and the really awful Netflix “Death Note” adaptation) “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the fourth installment of Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise, won’t let you down by presenting a big monster fights another big monster. However, despite we finally get to see this gigantic fight on the big screen after the unusual year of postponed blockbusters, the film feels weightless and is not as entertaining as it could have been. So, what went wrong?
The first time Godzilla, the iconic Japanese cinematic monster, met King Kong, originated from American B-movie, was in 1962 joint production “King Kong Vs. Godzilla.” Six decades later, while the production budget and filmmaking technology have advanced significantly, its basic premise stays the same: a destructive clashing big battle between the two Titans. Thus, you don’t have to bother why they are fighting for. “Godzilla vs. Kong” gives you the simplest reason that they are “ancient rivalries,” which somehow feels less like a reason but more like a statement: they just need to fight each other. That’s it. Period.
Long story short, a tach corp owner Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) has an evil plan to take back the Earth from Godzilla’s domination. A conspiracy podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) teams up with Madison (the MonsterVerse alumni Millie Bobby Brown) and Josh (Julian Dennison) to investigate Walter’s plan. Meanwhile, Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle, communicating with Kong via sign language) and geologist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) are transporting Kong to safety. These eventually lead to the boxing match between Godzilla and Kong. But the human characters and their actions here are just too boring, before the two Titans meet and start the fight, you have to sit through over 30 minutes of very low energetic runtime.
Actually, since 2014 Gareth Edwards’ astonishingly excellent “Godzilla,” every movie from this franchise has to face a fundamental question: what to do with the human characters when these hundred-feet-tall monsters are also sharing the screen? Each movie has developed its own visual approach and solution for the question, yet “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the worst among all.
You may argue that the human element is not the point and meant to be forgettable, and that the most important of all is the big CGI battle between Godzilla and King Kong. However, even the “most important thing” here is charmless. The structure of the fight is predictable without any suspense or impact of actions. Without the excitement of the action, it just makes me very hard to relate to neither of the monsters (remember, Godzilla and Kong are all characters), so who eventually win over another doesn’t make any difference to me at all. This time, the film finally takes us to dive into the “Hollow Earth,” the idea that has been set up since the 2014 “Godzilla” and continue to be mentioned in 2017 “Kong: Skull Island” and 2019 “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” but never fully explored here in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
Citing the fact that the domestic box office is still recovering steady but very slow, Warner Bros. stays on its initial plan of releasing the film day-to-date theatrically and on HBO Max. The real battle in our cinematic universe now is not only between the two Titans but also between the two realities the industry is struggling. After the exhausting, unpleasant year of so many tragedies and accidents happened, theaters finally re-open around the globe, and we are very welcome to re-enjoy the cinematic experience once again. “Godzilla vs. Kong” should be the big-budget massive production that represents the good old days of Hollywood Studios rather than merely another cliché, underdeveloped blockbuster. Unfortunately, the film falls into the latter.
- Distributor: Warner Bros. and HBO Max
- Production: Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.
- Director: Adam Wingard
- Writer: Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein
- Producer: Jon Jashni, Eric McLeod, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers, Alex Garcia, and Thomas Tull
- Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, and Kaylee Hottle
- “Godzilla vs. Kong” release in theaters and HBO Max Mar. 31, 2021
Read the review in Chinese