L. Sahara McGirt
Review: Godzilla vs. Kong
By: Sahara McGirt (DarthSagaSwag)
Ever since I was a small child, I have been a King Kong and Godzilla fan. My grandparents had a collection of older films, filling shelves that went from the ceiling to their living room floor. Among their collection were several black and white films, including the 1933 King Kong, which I had an obsession with. I also watched the 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla and the 1976 King Kong that were among my grandparents’ collection.
Then came the 1998 Godzilla film. It was fun to watch as a kid, but as an adult, the film did not age well. Peter Jackson’s King Kong tried to recreate a nostalgia from the older King Kong films, something I could appreciate, but that kind of nostalgia no longer had a place in the early 2000s.
My excitement for the Monsterverse when the last decade’s Godzilla came out cannot be measured. Each new film has been a treat, both for me as an adult viewer and for that kid sitting in front of the television at their grandparent’s house, eagerly watching giant monsters battle it out.
Godzilla vs. Kong is impossibly more than that kid could have imagined. With modern CGI and battle sequences and a human story that tries to ground the ‘titans’ in the real world, Godzilla vs. Kong’s modern iteration is worth watching. There is something about watching a gigantic several-story tall ape duke it out with a gigantic nuclear lizard that is just pure enjoyment and entertainment. If you have HBO Max or have the opportunity to see this movie in theaters, I recommend seeing it.
*Warning, the rest of this review contains spoilers.*
Storywise, Godzilla vs. Kong has its flaws. The first 40 minutes of the movie feel like it drags on as Kong and Godzilla’s stories and reason for fighting are set up. I understand why the story exists; it has to lay out the human element of the battle between the titans to get audiences invested. However, it feels as if the story drags as we’re given explanations for what is happening.
We’re introduced to new characters, scientists Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), and Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), the cause of everyone’s problems CEO Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir), and Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a deaf child who has a bond with Kong. Oh, and Millie Bobby Brown returns as Madison Russell from the previous film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, with her friend Josh (Julian Dennison)
who tags along.
As someone who watches these films to watch giant monsters fight, I don’t care as much for the story. The setup of the Apex Cybernetics conspiracy and the Hollow Earth theory were interesting, but not necessarily something I hang my enjoyment of the film off of.
Predictably, Godzilla vs. Kong goes the direction many people expected. However, this is not a sign of a bad film, but one that sets up the expected direction well. Apex Cybernetics intending to create a Mechagodzilla meant to cement humanity’s place as the apex species over the titans makes sense as the appearance of something like Godzilla and Kong would make humanity fear for their place in the world.
Truthfully, as a Godzilla and Kong fan, I lean heavier towards Kong as the monster of choice. If you are like me, you will not be disappointed by Godzilla vs. Kong, as Kong is very much the star of the movie. Much of the film follows Dr. Lind, Dr. Andrews, and Jia as they take Kong to the earth’s core in search of a power source that Apex Cybernetics seeks for their secret project. Kong, in my opinion, is the much more relatable of the two titans as he emotes more like a human does and has very human-like desires for home and family. If anything, Kong carries much more of the human element, as though he were a bridge between humans and titans, especially as Kong reveals an ability to communicate with Jia that he kept hidden.
The absolute joy of Godzilla vs. Kong comes in the second half of the film as Kong and Godzilla fight it out in a series of rounds to decide who the victor between them is.
Round 1 of their battles sees Kong and Godzilla fighting it out in the middle of the ocean. I’m only going to talk about this fight in detail because it involves the military. The Navy gets a little front and center place here as Kong and Godzilla fight it out using the flight decks of a couple of aircraft carriers as a battleground. Naval aircraft get thrown around, and Navy ships broken apart. Frankly, if I had to be the Navy sailor in the middle of a titan fight, I would just lay down and die because there is no way I’m surviving that, and I’m a Navy veteran. However, to witness such a fight would be pretty cool, even if the sailors on at least one of the carriers would have to clean Kong’s titan stink off the ship for months after carrying him. Round 1 of the Godzilla vs. Kong rivalry ends with Kong giving the fight to Godzilla.
Round 2 sees Kong and Godzilla duke it out in the middle of Hong Kong. I won’t go into much detail, other than that Hong Kong offers a rather beautifully lit background for the battle between the titans. It’s worth seeing and definitely worth giffing.
Round 3 turns into a battle of which titan has the biggest roar. Godzilla wins here but, his screeching, scream-roar seems like it would burst eardrums. Round 4 is when Mechagodzilla appears, and Godzilla gets his tail handed to him as the humans of this story rush to figure out how to shut him down.
While each round of fighting is amazing, Round 5 is my favorite. Godzilla and Kong set aside their rivalry and battle against Mechagodzilla while Madison and company continue to rush to shut him down. Impressively, rather than drag out an impossible computer hacking feat, the movie takes the simple route of shutting down Mechagodzilla’s link to Apex Cybernetics’ satellites. With a little help from the humans, the two titans win, with Kong ultimately landing the final blow.
All in all, Godzilla vs. Kong is great to watch, especially for Kong fans. Godzilla may breathe nuclear energy, but Kong’s brute strength and deliberate actions ultimately save humanity. If you’re only interested in watching Godzilla vs. Kong for the big fights, I recommend jumping straight to the 40-minute mark where all the action begins. Note, however, that you will miss out on all of the story set up about Apex Cybernetics and its role in creating Mechagodzilla, which makes one particular scene satisfying to watch.
What did you think about Godzilla vs. Kong? Which team are you on?