We all Love a Showdown
Mankind, as a whole, loves epic rivalries and the opportunity to watch those rivals go toe to toe. We love a good fight from sporting teams such as the Packers vs. the Bears to boxing legends Frazier vs. Ali. But for some, the most epic of rivalries is Godzilla vs. Kong. Schoolyard kids to film enthusiasts love to speculate as two who would win in a fight. In 1963, Toho and Ishiro Honda gave us the original showdown where while ambiguous, you could make a case for King Kong’s victory over the King of the Monsters, Godzilla.
But today, in 2021, Legendary Pictures and Adam Wingard have given us a type of round two with Godzilla Vs. Kong. Today we will be reviewing this film and asking ourselves, “Is it worth watching?”
Let me begin by saying that I did go in with some hesitation while I was excited to see this film. Adam Wingard is not my favorite director, and his work on Death Note (2017 Netflix Movie) did not instill confidence in me that he would do right by an existing franchise.
As the name suggests, this film features the epic fight between the two Titans of the Legendary Monstersverse that has been teased nearly since day one. This film picks up four years after the events of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (GKOTM). Monarch (the government agency responsible for monitoring the Kaiju) has created an enclosure on Skull Island to keep Kong safe from Godzilla. After the events of GKOTM, it has become clear that there can not be two alpha Kaiju roaming the earth, and the theory is that if Godzilla knows about Kong’s existence, then one of these two Titans would fall. For some reason, Godzilla has attacked the town of Pensacola in Florida. However, something strange is happening with Godzilla. He is seemingly randomly attacking locations that, after a deeper review, are connected to an organization called Apex. As it turns out, Apex is creating something to “protect mankind” from the Kaiju, but they need an energy source from the center of the planet. Apex conveniences Monarch to enlist King Kong’s help to guide them through the paths that lead to “The Hollow Earth.”
Following the story, I would strongly advise that a viewer watch the other films in the Legendary Monsterverse. Those being Kong: Skull Island, Godizlla (2014), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). There are many aspects from these previous films that you need to know before you watch this film. You will also find a few story plots and references that reading the comics may be helpful but not necessary to follow along. That said, the film does an excellent job of subtly explaining these along the way so that if this your entry into the Legendary Monster Verse, you won’t be terribly lost. In fact, this film’s opening credits help fill in many backstories, but it will require you to pay attention
The previous films heavily relied on human plotlines to tell the story. Kaiju, while prominent, were large set pieces to human drama. This film takes a slight turn while still relying on following Humans; Kong is a much more major portion of the film. It helps that Kong already carries a much more human-like quality, whereas Godzilla has traditionally been displayed as a force of nature. However, doing so makes Godzilla seem more of a secondary character throughout the film’s entirety. I found myself viewing this as a King Kong film that features Godzilla.
I have heard some people complain about Millie Bobby Brown’s character, Madison Russell, suggesting that her plotline was pointless and not needed for the film. I can’t entirely agree with this assumption. Madison’s involvement meant to act as a bridge between GKOTM and this film while also being the vehicle to highlight the antagonist story and motives. I did, however, find Madison’s lines to be a bit of a tone shift from the last film, but she was an excellent tool for the story.
This film also takes time to make several callbacks to the original King Kong vs. Godzilla film. They were subtle at times but nice to see. They also seemed to lean more into the Sci-Fi aspects of the Godzilla franchise. It’s not a bad shift considering that you see the beginning of this in GKOTM, but it is something to take note of.
Graphically this film was well done. Kong and Godzilla both looked like they belonged in this universe. However, one complaint that I have is the lack of perspective shots that made these Titans genuinely feel larger than life. They also seemed to lean more into the sci-fi, Tron-like aspect more than a grounded modern atmosphere. There were times in previous Monsterverse films that the graphics felt rubbery. I was pleased to see that this wasn’t the case in this film.
Another nitpick I had about this film was the scoring. Don’t misunderstand. Where the music needed to be epic, it was epic. They did a great job of playing 70’s styled music when Kong was on screen as a callback to Kong: Skull Island. But there was a lack of awe and wonder to the music that made the Kaiju feel genuinely giant. There was a rumble in the music when Godzilla was on screen, and his theme was subtly implanted in certain parts that truly gave Godzilla a gravitas that made his scenes great. This was missing in this film, and I’m not entirely sure why? Instead, they opted for more synth-wave-styled music at times. It wasn’t bad, but it was missing something.
For me, this is a pretty clean film. Yes, a lot of intense fight scenes between the monsters in the film, but there was next to no actual blood and gore seen. You do have the occasional drop of S**t, h**l, and D**n by various characters, moments more prominent than others, but all very few and far between. One of the main characters does carry a flask of alcohol with him, but it’s rarely seen or referenced.
Despite some of the film’s nitpicky details that I pointed out, it’s an absolute blast! The fight scenes were fun and engaging. The human plot was interesting and kept the story going. Not to mention the final fight was well executed, leaving everyone to know that the true King of the Monsters is…
Final Rating: 3.5 out 5 Kaijus