Movie Review: Godzilla vs. Kong

It’s the most highly anticipated title fight in years.  In one corner is the fierce alpha titan, Kong.  He’s a little scarred from his previous battles but the king isn’t about to relinquish his crown to some scaly interloper.  Godzilla is no slouch either though.  He’s fresh off a big win in 2019’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS and fans can expect he’ll come out breathing blue fire.  He just needs to find out where his sworn enemy is hiding and it’ll be game on.  Fortunately, that happens early on in director Adam Wingard’s (YOU’RE NEXT) wonderfully over-the-top GODZILLA VS. KONG.

As GvK opens, we find Kong living a Shrek meets The Truman Show existence in the Skull Island base run by Monarch.  His life in a gilded cage comes quickly to an end, however, when Godzilla suddenly attacks the seemingly benign, high tech company, APEX Cybernetics, in Florida.  APEX CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir, LAND; THE NUN; ALIEN: COVENANT; THE HATEFUL EIGHT) knows how to beat the reptile but he needs to tap into an energy source that is believed to exist in the Hollow Earth, the place where both Godzilla and Kong originate.  He hires Monarch geologist Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN) to lead an expedition there using APEX’s latest craft that can withstand the reverse gravitational forces that they’ll encounter on the way there.  Lind recommends that Simmons also hire anthropological linguist Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall, A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK; PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN) from Monarch because she’s the only one who can get Kong to show them the way to the power source.  Andrews agrees to join the team and she brings along young Jia (Kaylee Hottle), her adopted daughter and the sole survivor of Skull Island’s indigenous population, as she has developed a bond with the primate.  Meanwhile, APEX technician and conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry, JOKER; IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK; WIDOWS; TV’s ATLANTA) believes there’s something more sinister going on at APEX and he has a fan in the name of Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown, TV’s STRANGER THINGS), the daughter of Monarch scientists Mark (Kyle Chandler, GAME NIGHT; MANCHESTER BY THE SEA; CAROL; THE SPECTACULAR NOW) and the late Emma Russell.  Together with Madison’s friend Josh (Kiwi actor Julian Dennison, DEADPOOL 2), the trio sets off to APEX’s basement level 33 where they uncover more than they expected.

If there’s a film that’s going to bring audiences back into cinemas, GvK is it.  This is pure popcorn entertainment.  You don’t have to think hard and there’s no moral message to be gleaned.  It’s just 100% fun… wacky fun.  Wingard clearly understands what audiences want from their monster movies.  There are plenty of body slams and hairy right hook to lizard jaw action, and much of the fighting lays waste to a good chunk of the central business district in my hometown of Hong Kong much to the delight of my audience.  One building conspicuously remains unscathed throughout though, illustrating that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures know very well who puts the rice in their bowl.

Not surprisingly, the monsters are the stars of the film with the actors only there to move the plot forward, provide exposition or to be killed in spectacular ways.  The CGI is top notch and Wingard wisely stages the titans’ first and last battles in broad daylight, no doubt in response to audience complaints that GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS’ fight scenes were too dark and hard to see.  If there is a beef to be had it’s that there are still too many tight shots, making it hard to take in the spectacle of the fight.  Move the camera back, man!  The best thing about GvK, though, is the soundtrack, which is absolutely inspired!

GvK is playing now in Hong Kong, one week ahead of most of the rest of the world and HBO Max.  I saw it in IMAX.  It definitely deserves to be watched on a big screen.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, March 26th, 8:30 am HK time!

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