Godzilla vs. Kong is very much a critic proof film. No level of pontificating about the lack of human character development or fairly straight forward plot is going to dissuade the punters from watching two oversized cinema titans punch on for the better part of two hours. And it shouldn’t. This is pop corn monster movie making in its purest form, a cinematic sugar rush of destructive visual and audible delight that should be watched on the biggest screen possible with the loudest sound system your ears can manage. Godzilla vs Kong is what you’re promised and, goddamnit, Godzilla vs Kong is what you get.
2014’s Godzilla feels like the last earnest attempt at trying to inject something resembling an emotional core into this franchise. 2017’s Skull Island opted for a more Apocalypse Now sheen of cool and King of the Monsters attempted to feign interest in the more human side of its story before watching everyone’s favourite lizard decimate his other monstrous counterparts. Here, Adam Wingard and writers Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein strip the franchise to its barest essentials – two monsters beating the crap out of each other for the title of “Most Alpha”. That’s what it’s come down to. Something has set Goji off, the sense of a creature more superior than him, and he’s not happy about it.
The human element is simply a road to get the two titans to the inevitable fisticuffs we came to see. Rebecca Hall and wonderful newcomer, Kaylee Hottle are given most of the emotional heft of the film. Hall’s Ilene Andrews, deemed “the Kong whisperer” is attempting to find a way to keep the encased Kong happy and out of Godzilla’s sights, while Hottle’s Jia, a native of Skull Island is there as a calming effect on the big ape. All of this changes when the obscenely shady Apex Technologies CEO, Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) enlists the aide of disgraced scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to help find the fabled home of the Titans – Hollow Earth. Lind has the idea for Kong to lead them to the promised land, and that’s when all city levelling hell breaks loose. Along the way Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Dennison and Bryan Tyree Henry show up to drive a parallel plot that will make fans of the overall franchise VERY happy.
There is sometimes a tendency with these types of films to over promise and under deliver on its general premise. With Godzilla vs. Kong there isn’t such a worry, with the movie legends throwing hands quite promptly. Using aircraft carriers and and the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong as their battlegrounds, Wingard and co ensure that they give the people what they want – an atomic burly brawl.
Destruction aside, it is a truly gorgeous film, a feast for the senses. One gets the impression that Legendary and WB are attempting to inch the franchise closer toward Pacific Rim (pretty please?) with its deeply saturated fluoro hues that absolutely paint the screen. Ben Seresin lights up the visuals with some neon coated eye candy, while Junkie XL’s score thumps into your chest with the heaviest percussive sounds befitting a monstrous smackdown.
Godzilla vs. Kong is a reason to get back into the cinemas. It’s the type of film popcorn is made for. It’s what IMAX was built for. It doesn’t disappoint and is exactly what it promises to be – a true Clash of the Titans.