By Lee Romero
“Let them fight.” – Ken Watanabe (GODZILLA ’14)
While not necessarily aimed at Godzilla vs Kong, that unforgettable line from 2014’s GODZILLA will live in monster movie infamy. Subtle, yet strong, letting nature take its course is an act that’s intrigued humans for centuries. Whether make believe or real life, there’s an underlying discomfort, sprinkled with curiosity, on what would happen if certain apex species were to go head-to-head. We see it all the time on TV: Shark vs Croc, Tiger vs Lion, Elephant vs Rino, etc. But if we shift towards Hollywood, what if we took fantasy apex icons like Godzilla and King Kong and pit them against each other? A playground, rivalry discussion I’m sure has gone on since the birth of these two icons. I know I had them. It’s been done before. It was kinda cool to watch. But in modern times… can you imagine how CGI-chaotic that must look like?
After a handful of standalones, WB/Legendary have decided to serve up its monster match-up! Directed by Adam Wingard, behemoths collide when Kong and his protectors take a risky journey seeking his true home, alongside a a young girl with whom Kong has formed a special bond with. However, unexpectedly, they find themselves in the path of an agitated Godzilla causing all sorts of ruckus across the globe, followed by inevitable confrontation. But here’s the thing… behind the enraged encounter lies a mystery of instigation that goes beyond GODZILLA VS. KONG!
The result is one I see being discussed for a bit. As “arguments” ensue, at least we got this showdown off our chest. Plot-wise, I thought it was a bit too ambitious, kinda scattered, and predictable. Very color-by-number (if ya dig)! However, entertaining, nonetheless. Even though it didn’t really feel and/or deliver GvK as a whole, visually, it was a spectacle, sound mixing was quite rumbling, and the score was pretty touching, too (I thought). I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t appreciate nostalgic feelings watching these majestic, movie monsters roar, generate their all-too-familiar impact, throw down, and also engage in battle with yet another monster of yesteryears! C’mon now… Not so much with Kong, but if it’s a movie with Godzilla, you know you can expect cameos!
The overall scope of the film does present both icons in all-star form. We get them more here than we ever did in any other monsterverse flick. But the subject matter, which boils down to their faceoff felt strange and watered down by a story that doesn’t really know how to expose them. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they shades of grey? Both of them have intelligent, empathetic humans standing up for them in ways that hail them heroes with levels of relatability – and that’s fine. But rather than being helpful, the human element becomes emotionally disruptive. I didn’t want to feel any emotion. I wanted titans sweeping the grounds of earth with each other, while we puny humans gasped in God-riddled fright. But… I guess I’ll take what I can and move on.
GvK has its issues, but serves up an OK, popcorn munchin’, adventure that generates appreciation for its monstrous protagonists. So much, it drowns out its cast of misfit, human toys. And that’s not a bad thing! So, give it a shot. Like ALL things in life… whether this is a winner or not in viewers eyes is subjective.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action-Adventure
Run Time: 1:53
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, with Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir
Directed by: Adam Wingard