06th Apr2021

‘Godzilla vs Kong’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir | Written by Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein | Directed by Adam Wingard

Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth film in the new Monsterverse franchise that started with Godzilla in 2014 and has gained steam with each film since. Godzilla vs. Kong pits the two Titans against each other and while the film is the weakest of the franchise, the payoff of the confrontation between Godzilla and Kong makes the film a worthy monster film.

The Plot:

The film begins five years after Godzilla: King of the Monsters as the rise of the Titans has caused the government agency, Monarch, to be given more power to keep these monsters in check. Kong, one of only two Alpha Titans alive, is still living on Skull Island, but is now surrounded by a Monarch approved giant dome in order to prevent him from escaping and leading to the inevitable confrontation with the other Alpha Titan, Godzilla. Kong is not alone though as he has been monitored for the last ten years by scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her adopted and deaf daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle). Kong has a strong connection to Jia as she is the last surviving member of the native tribe on Skull Island and much like the ape in Congo (never speak of that film again), can communicate with each other by sign language.

Kong begins to grow restless being trapped in the dome and when disgraced scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) arrives with a plan to release Kong in order to follow him through an Antarctica entrance to the mythical Titan home world of the Hollow-Earth, Ilene agrees. Nathan is not just acting in good-faith as he was recruited by the billionaire owner of Apex Cybernetics, Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir), to not only find if Hollow-Earth exists but also retrieve the power source that fuels the Titans. Ilene and Nathan realize that time is an issue to find the Hollow-Earth as it may lead to the answer or a way to stop Godzilla from attacking Apex facilities and killing innocent people.

Nathan and Ilene are joined on the mission by Walter’s daughter, Maya (Eiza Gonzalez), and after a small scuffle occurs between Godzilla and Kong, are able to find the fabled Hollow-Earth. The land, with an eco-system similar to Skull Island, is home to even more strange and beautiful creatures that humans have never seen. After Kong explores the history of his ancestors, including an ancient war with Godzilla’s ancestors, it doesn’t take long for him to take the throne as king of this world. In Kong’s new palace, Maya finds the power source and using poor judgement, sends a sample back to the Apex facility in Hong Kong, prompting Godzilla to arrive in search of a fight.

While the mission to Hollow-Earth is ongoing, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) from King of the Monsters, is on her own mission to find out what Apex is really doing behind the scenes and the reason why Godzilla continues to attack their facilities. Madison recruits her good friend Josh (Julian Dennison) and conspiracy podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) to join her in breaking into top-secret Apex facilities, which eventually leads them to Hong Kong and the epicenter of Godzilla and Kong’s battle. While the character of Bernie is funny, this subplot does not add much to the film while also slowing down the momentum of the film. It doesn’t help that Madison’s father, Mark (Kyle Chandler), the heart of the last film is only in two throwaway scenes and is not given anything meaningful to do in this film.

In Hong Kong, Godzilla sends an invitation, in the form of creating a giant tunnel from Hong Kong to the Hollow-Earth for Kong to fight him for supremacy. While Godzilla and Kong begin their fight, Nathan and Ilene’s crew must make their way out of the Hollow-Earth and back to Hong Kong before the passageway collapses while also deciding which monster to assist in the battle. After a take-no-prisoners battle, a third Titan shows up declaring his supremacy and challenging our Titans to one last fight for control of the world. Who wins? Well, that would be a spoiler and we can’t allow that.

The Good:

  • Godzilla vs. Kong. Let’s be serious, the real reason people want to see this film is not for the plot, but to see Godzilla go toe-to-toe with Kong to determine the real king of the monsters. In that aspect, the film doesn’t disappoint. The audience is teased with a decent warmup fight between the two behemoths that takes place on aircraft carriers, as shown in the trailers, but the real prize fight takes place in the last 20 minutes of the film. Credit must be given to Warner Bros. as a decisive victor is declared in the fight and there is no draw in this battle. The addition of a third Titan to the fight adds a twist to the final battle, while also possessing a serious threat to Godzilla and Kong. The third Titan may look silly at times but overall, it does deliver on how dangerous it can be while adding another great element to the final confrontation.

The Bad:

  • Madison’s Crazy Adventures! While the main plot revolves around Kong, Nathan and Ilene’s quest to the Hollow Earth, the weak secondary plot revolves around Madison, Bernie, and Josh infiltrating the least secured top-secret corporation, Apex Cybernetics. The plot for Madison, Josh and the conspiracy-minded podcaster Bernie starts off well enough as they suspect something more sinister is happening at Apex, which happens to be true, but at the same time, their story seems completely separated from the rest of the film. Any time the film flashes back to this storyline, I was disappointed we were leaving a more action-packed and interesting story to follow three people that just happen to fall into the luckiest of circumstances. This is no fault of the actors involved and Millie Bobby Brown deserves better, especially after the large role she played in King of the Monsters film. The issue is while Madison’s storyline did eventually pay off in revealing what Apex was actually creating, it took too long to get to the payoff and dragged down the pace of the film. I can suspend belief and believe a giant lizard is fighting a giant ape, but I cannot believe two teenagers and a podcaster can sneak around not just one but two top secret corporate facilities, with armed guards, without being caught. While Apex’s plan did provide some connection and closure to several subplots in the other Monsterverse films, the execution was sloppy.

The Middling:

  • The Hollow Earth. Nathan, Ilene, and Jia’s journey to the Hollow Earth, reminiscent of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, is the main plotline of the film and gives more backstory and character development to Kong than his own film, Kong: Skull Island, did. By travelling to this mysterious world, the audience is introduced to new and fantastic creatures including Warbats (flying snake creatures!), crab monsters, possibly a Baragon, and a few other creatures that tease possible confrontations in future films. It’s a great introduction to the home of the Titans and sets up future films, as well as the idea of a television series following Monarch scientists stationed at the Hollow Earth. Make it happen Warner Bros.
    The issue with the Hollow Earth plot is how long it took Kong and the rest of the cast to arrive at this new land, which limits the amount of time exploring this area. A possible trek through the land for our characters, instead of just flying to Kong’s palace, would have been interesting but due to the amount of time it takes the film to arrive at the Hollow Earth, exploration of the world is limited.

Final Grade: C+ (Above Average)

Godzilla vs. Kong, while not as good of a film as its predecessors, is still a big, fun monster film that treats Godzilla and Kong with the respect they deserve. The pacing of the film to get to the main attraction as well as the limited screen time the third Titan receives are issues, but the monster fights more than makes up for the issues in the film. Overall Godzilla vs. Kong is a welcomed addition to the Monsterverse, while also setting up future installments and possible spin-offs, if the studio decides to go that route.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music and other podcasting apps. 
You can listen to their latest episode right here.

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