Things people don’t want in their movies; cliché characters, tired storytelling, too much exposition, bloated runtimes. Things people do want in their movies; big creatures punching each other into oblivion. Since the resurgence of the Godzilla/Kong cinema universe, audiences seem to feel they haven’t had enough of the latter. While the new Godzilla Vs. Kong film does offer plenty of monster on monster fisticuffs, it also contains way too much of the former.
It’s been five years since Godzilla killed off the Titan Ghidorah. With this evil nemesis out of the way, Godzilla has been dormant–just laying low in the ocean. Kong, being the only Titan left on earth, is kept inside a large dome on Skull Island. This is meant to protect Kong from Godzilla. All the while, scientists try to study and communicate with the massive beast. Peace and quiet pretty much rules the land. Until, Godzilla emerges and attacks a research base owned by the Apex Cybernetics company. Government bodies race to find out why Godzilla has returned and suddenly attacked civilians. At the same time, Walter Simmons, the CEO of Apex enlists the help of those close to Kong, in an attempt to have the Titan lead them to a strong power source he needs to his research. Once Kong is out of his protective dome, Godzilla’s eye turns to taking out the big ape—and here we go!
Even writing a blurb for this films plot is a chore. There are so many moving parts to this script, it hurts to think about it. It is something all of these modern monster movies suffer from. There has to be a story, we need characters to follow. You can’t just have a two hour extravaganza of of a 60 story lizard fighting a 60 story monkey. Sure, if someone sent you a link to a YouTube video with the title, “Skyscraper sized Dragon Fights Massive Bigfoot for Two Hours!,” a lot of people would tune in and be mesmerized. But, that can’t be what a movie is about. So what happens? A semi-cohesive plot, with hastily thrown together stereotypes is cobbled into the backbone for a predictable picture that goes nowhere.
You have the paranoid, looney tunes podcaster who no one believes– but is right. Then there is the evil corporate hag, and his brood of evil doers. Next is the group of rag tag kids who do their own thing, and can bypass high end security in secret underground bunkers. Of course, let’s not forget the well meaning scientist who get roped into these grand schemes. As well as the small child with the connection to one of the monster protagonists, who is looked after by said scientist. This is just a handful of the cookie cutter characters on display. And to top it off, you have Lance Reddick. Lance is given billing over Demián Bichir–who plays the Apex CEO–even though he is in the film for a total of 14 seconds. That is no joke. I love Lance Reddick and I want to see him in everything made, but the man appears for a flash to say one line and then again a few minutes later to nod at someone else’s statement; and that’s it.
Going into a Godzilla or King Kong film, you have to be ready for a faulty story. You have to be ready for a lot of flimsy backstory that can hold up the war of the Titans. However, since the 2014 Gareth Edwards Godzilla film, the balance of story vs. action has gotten worse. 2014 had a slow story with flashes of monster battles strewn through out. Those fights might have been fleeting, but their presentation was so brilliant it made up for everything else. Kong: Skull Island did the opposite. The story was much better, and the warring creatures was just a nice addition. Godzilla: King of Monsters tried too hard to throw more action at the audience, and just padded it with one bonkers storyline. Godzilla Vs. Kong continues that tradition and just falls on its face trying to deliver.
This film did absolutely nothing to hide its true purpose. Let’s be real, like Batman V. Superman, everyone knows going into this that they are not going to kill off a beloved character. Something has to happen to throw a wrench into the battle to end all battles. 12 minutes into Godzilla Vs. Kong, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry’s cuckoo podcaster that no one would take seriously) breaks into a restricted section of the Apex facility he works at during the Godzilla attack…and he sees something. He doesn’t know what it is, but he knows its important. He might not have known what it is, but I certainly did. Any mystery, any question about the ending of Godzilla Vs. Kong was answered right there–before we even met half the characters.
For all my complaining and all my gripes, it still should be said; Godzilla Vs. Kong isn’t that awful of a film. It’s serviceable and provides what a lot of movie goers do want to see; big things hitting other big things. Although, they did miss an opportunity to show Alexander Skarsgård running across Kong’s belly. What happened there? I do wonder if I would have different feelings if I did see this on a large movie screen, compared to a 50″ TV at home. Would the battles have impressed me more? Would I give the film a higher grade? At the end of the day though, it might have been better if it was just a feature length film of monsters beating the ever-loving piss out of each other. It would have led to a lot less facepalming on my part during its runtime.
Final Grade: C-