Godzilla vs. Kong film review (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t handle the human characters very well, similarly to the last two installments. But, you watch this for the incredible monster fights and the visually stunning special effects and cinematography, and it most definitely delivers on that front.

So far, I can honestly say for the most part, the Godzilla monster-verse has been thoroughly entertaining. Since Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, I’ve enjoyed every subsequent film since. If I’m being honest, in terms of story and character development, Edwards’ Godzilla did it best since the human characters felt a bit more important to the overall story and were actually properly developed as the movie progressed. However, the biggest complaint from that film is how Godzilla was more of a side character in it. Although he does have his moments, for the majority of it, you see him fighting and lingering in the background, playing second fiddle to the human interactions and the story they’re trying to tell. Overall, I still enjoy it for what it is.

Now, the sequels, those being Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and the latest entry, Godzilla vs. Kong, have actually done the complete opposite. These focus more on the actual monsters and sort of toss the human characters to the side. Most of the human characters feel unimportant and dispensable. There are so many of them, it’s hard to properly develop them to make it feel as if they’re integral to the plot. But, the monsters themselves are spectacular to watch in almost every aspect, including their appearance and the fights they’re involved in. As a viewer, I somehow wish the directors were able to somehow do both, that is deliver epic, large scale action sequences while also making the human characters feel important and developed, all while telling a coherent and smooth story.

Godzilla vs. Kong probably does this best out of all the other films. There are still some glaring issues in terms of the human characters and the often sloppy story that’s being told, but it’s definitely an improvement over Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters in how it handles everything altogether. It was one of my most anticipated films of the year for many reasons. Personally, I’m more of a fan of King Kong due to how we, as humans, relate to the character a bit more. He seems to have more of a personality than Godzilla. Godzilla has shown a gentle nature at times, but he’s never felt a bit relatable like Kong. Plus, I was hooked on the character since seeing Peter Jackson’s stellar 2005 version. So, seeing these two finally collide on the big screen in the current era of cinema was something I was looking forward to very much. Did it deliver? I believe so, in more ways than one.

As mentioned already, the issues with the human characters are immediately apparent and I won’t take much time discussing them. There are far too many of them in the film and other than some scenes, they never feel all that important to the central plot of the movie. I mean, some of the villains do some things which lead to other major events, but otherwise, you don’t really care for them. The only human character who feels important to the story is Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, and that’s only because of her connection with Kong himself. She heavily influences many of the decisions he makes in the film since she’s the only one who’s able to communicate with him. Well, at least she’s the only one Kong will listen to. Kong, as a character, doesn’t always work if not for Jia. As far as everyone else, yes they do make some important decisions and push the plot along, but everything they do feels rushed and they aren’t given sufficient time to really engage the audience. In other words, if some of them were to die, you wouldn’t feel it at an emotional level. Well, at least from my perspective.

Where the movie excels the most is with the visual effects and the monsters. Much like its predecessor, King of the Monsters, most of the focus is heavily on the monsters and what’s going on between them. For this film, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a bigger focus on Kong as a character rather than Godzilla. I honestly thought it would be the other way around, but Kong is pretty fleshed out and you get to learn a bit more about who he is and where he comes from. Godzilla is still around and his presence is most definitely felt, but he definitely feels more like a supporting character to Kong. This may be a bit controversial among the Godzilla fandom, but I can assure you that it doesn’t necessarily influence the conflict between the two whatsoever, which I enjoyed immensely.

The fights between them are simply a treat to watch. Obviously, going in, Godzilla should have the upper hand for a number of reasons. For one, I think he’s more durable due to his outer shell and spikes. Let’s not forget to mention his durability has been on full display in other movies, such as him being able to tank an actual nuke and turn out even stronger than before. I think where Kong would have the advantage is with his speed, his agility, and his longer arms. He’s also able to jump higher, farther, and attack Godzilla from different angles. Director Adam Wingard really thought about everything in terms of their fighting skills in order to deliver a fight that’s not only extremely entertaining, but also gives each of the characters their moments to shine. Of course, I won’t spoil who wins, but I can confirm Wingard’s comments about there being a definitive winner.

From a technical standpoint, the movie is simply beautiful to watch. From Skull Island, to the fight on the ships between Godzilla and Kong, everything is incredibly pleasing to the eye. But, by far, the one that looks best, at least for me, is the Hong Kong scene where all the neon lights are shining bright from the buildings and high rises. It really adds a special flare to the scenes, which only elevates the fight between the two even more. There’s a specific location that’s shown in the film which is fantastic to look at as well, but I won’t spoil that either.

I was pretty content with what I witnessed in Godzilla vs. Kong. It doesn’t really set up future films, if I’m being honest. However, it does establish certain things that can be used if it is decided other films will be made in this universe. Will we get Destoroyah, Biollante, or even Mecha-King Ghidorah in future films? A person can dream. The pacing is a bit off since it’s always jumping to the next thing, which sort of throws off the flow of the story. The human characters are also superfluous. However, you stay for the monsters and the awesome action between them. Try to see this on the biggest screen possible in order to really have the best experience possible. If not, it’s still pretty exciting to watch from the comfort of your home on HBO Max.

Score: B-

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