Let’s be honest: You’re not watching Godzilla vs. Kong for the quippy dialogue or narratively satisfying character arcs. You’re watching Godzilla vs. Kong for the sweet-ass monster fights. That has always been the modus operandi of the Godzilla franchise, and, for better or worse, director Adam Wingard delivers on those expectations.
The highly anticipated fourth film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse—which will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max this Wednesday in the U.S.—opens on Skull Island. Kong starts his day by ripping up trees while accompanied by Johnnie & Joe’s 1957 R&B ballad, “Over The Mountain, Across The Sea.” This is, objectively, hilarious. We learn from a scientist, Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), that Kong has been trapped on Skull Island by a force field and he’s not happy about it. But at least he’s befriended a little girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), an orphan of the Island’s native people.
If you’re wondering how much you need to remember from the previous Monsterverse films, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017), the answer is, thankfully, “not much.” Millie Bobby Brown reprises her King of Monsters role as Madison, the daughter of Monarch scientists, but her father (Kyle Chandler) is barely in the movie. Instead, Madison teams up with a man named Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry), the host of a conspiracy theory podcast who suspects his employer, Apex Cybernetics, is working on something sinister. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, she brings along her friend from New Zealand (Julian Dennison), and the three embark on a bargain-brand X-Files investigation of this mystery.
But again: None of the above is why you’re watching Godzilla vs. Kong. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t make you wait too long before it gets to the good stuff. For vague plot reasons involving Alexander Skarsgård looking for a “core reactor,” Kong is transported to Antarctica on a massive ship. Before he can complete his journey, he’s intercepted by his ancient enemy: the one and only Godzilla. This first clash of the titans is everything you want it to be. The setting—in the middle of the ocean, at sunset—is gorgeous, and well-lit to boot. The blows are nothing short of epic. At one point, Kong hurls a plane at Godzilla from his vantage point on a military carrier ship, while the pilot ejects at the last second. It’s freakin’ awesome.
That ocean fight is the movie’s best scene, but there are other high points, too: a jaw-droppingly beautiful sequence involving falling to the center of the earth (which, spoiler alert, looks a lot like Skull Island), Kong demolishing a giant snake, and Kong straight-up flying through the air. I won’t spoil the ultimate winner, but the titular monsters face off a few more times, too.
For those of us watching at home due to the ongoing pandemic, we’ll miss out on the pleasure of seeing those dope action sequences and beautiful visuals on the big screen. But the upside to streaming Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max is that you can participate in an age-old tradition of watching monster movies: fast-forwarding through the human scenes. I give you full permission to do this. You will miss out on next to nothing. Brian Tyree Henry, a skilled comedic actor known for his Emmy-nominated role on Atlanta, does his best. He made me chuckle a few times, but even he can’t save this dialogue—which feels like it’s been recycled from a bad ’80s movie—from itself.
Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t rise above its station story-wise, but it does deliver visually stunning, cinematically thrilling monster-v-monster fight scenes. Watch this movie with a beer or two, and you’ll be cheering and gasping and groaning along with the punches. And really, what more could you want?
View original post