‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: A monstrous hit or a colossal failure?

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This Wednesday, the much anticipated film “Godzilla vs. Kong” was released to theaters and HBO Max. This movie has been in the works for a long time, ever since Legendary began the “MonsterVerse” with the release of 2014’s “Godzilla.” The cinematic universe’s other entries are 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island,” 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and now this film.  

This film bears the concept of pitting two iconic movie characters against one another, for the first time on the silver screen since 1962. This put a lot of pressure on this movie to pay off the long set up of the franchise and the cinematic history of both monsters. 

Luckily, for the most part, this film does. 

Now the draw of this film is to see these two giants go head to head in epic scale fight scenes, upon which this movie delivers. In a less than two hour runtime, it feels like almost half of this movie is the fight scenes, due to the relative scope and length of them. That is by no means a problem, however, because these scenes are quite well executed. Utilizing a variety of characters, set pieces and environments, the fight scenes all feel unique, delivering on the promise that the franchise has made for the last seven years. The visual effects are fantastic; both Godzilla and King Kong look the best they ever have in film. The character design is incredible, with intricate detail that creates fantastical, but close to photo-realistic, visuals which makes the movie all the more impressive. 

Unfortunately, while the film does execute these fight sequences incredibly, when you look at everything else, it’s difficult to find anything to get excited about. A common criticism of the cinematic universe has been that the human characters are significantly less interesting than the monstrous protagonists. That unfortunately can be said about “Godzilla vs. Kong” as well. 

I think they should have approached the human parts of the movie in a different way. Of course, every movie of this type requires human characters, because King Kong and Godzilla are nonverbal characters whose threatening statures can be magnified by showcasing human emotion. However, I think this film would be better executed if the human characters are used more as thematic vessels than as pieces for an emotional storyline. 

With the long fight scenes and the relative shortness of the film, little time is given to build the characters present in the storylines. Additionally, there are multiple plot lines of characters so even less time is given to singular individuals. This hurts the scenes with the human characters because they are delivered to execute an emotional storyline, yet the film lacks the emotional weight due the lack of proper setup of characters. It also does not help matters that the dialogue and story are not executed well in terms of quality and structure. 

Instead, I think the film should have used the human characters as vessels to deliver themes surrounding the monsters. Both King Kong and Godzilla are very symbolic characters, representing messages on the destruction of nature and nuclear Armageddon. I think the film could have been crafted around a core central message, using the human characters to do so. In doing so, the human characters could have had a more meaningful storyline that had a stronger impact on the rest of the film. 

In conclusion, while this film does have some flaws in the story department, the action and visual effects make up for it, delivering a fantastic spectacle with its two titular monsters. For that reason, this film earns a moderate recommendation. 

Rating: 3.9/5 

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