In Godzilla vs Kong, Carl takes a visit to the Hollow Earth and watches the two greatest titans fight it out in an enjoyable but flawed blockbuster!
It’s time to unleash the fury of Godzilla vs Kong. I love (most) of the Monsterverse. From the start of the opening film ‘Godzilla‘ through to the end of ‘Kong: Skull Island’, I had a great time seeing the creatures on the big screen. However, my disappointment at ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters‘ goes without saying. I did indeed enjoy the monsters having a massive scrap between them all. Yes, I loved the nods to the old films and the callbacks to several of the creatures. But the film felt empty to me, without a heart, and a soul. This despite the talents of Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler. This also contributed to its unremarkable box office performance. But the saving grace of the film was the fact that Godzilla would next be taking on the REAL king. A battle for the ages. Godzilla would fight Kong.
DELAYS ON THE WAY TO THE SCREEN
‘Godzilla VS Kong’ took a long time to get to the screen. Originally, the film was due to hit screens on March 13th, 2020 before shifting its slots. It was scheduled to open on May 22nd, then May 29th before being pushed to November 20th, 2020. COVID then saw the film pushed back to May 21st of this year. However, the film opened internationally on March 24th with its U.S opening on March 31st alongside a simultaneous release on HBO MAX for 30 days. In some countries where cinemas were not open, the film was made available on streaming PVOD platforms. Now though, the film has hit digital platforms to buy and keep ahead of its release on the disc formats on June 15th. It is also still playing in theatres around the world.
GODZILLA VS KONG (REVIEW)
The film opens on Skull Island. Kong wakes up in the jungle before rising to wash in the waterfall nearest to him. We do get an amusing sight of Kong scratching his backside as he walks. Typical male! But what Kong doesn’t know is he is actually inside a dome on Skull Island and is under careful observation. Skull Island has been devastated by natural events outside of the dome. Kong’s only friend is Jia, the last Twi native of the island, who is deaf and communicates with him via sign language. Kong angrily decides to throw a tree at the sun that is beating down on him, only to witness it get stuck in midair, creating a hole in the dome housing him. We see his confusion before the scene cuts away and the opening credits begin.
MADISON, JOSH, AND BERNIE
Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), a survivor of the battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah five years previously is a huge fan of Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) and his Titan podcast. Bernie works for Apex Cybernetics and after seeing and hearing things that trouble him, decides to extract data from the servers of the company. This happens at the facility in Pensacola. While he is getting the data, Godzilla attacks the facility without warning in what seems to be an unprovoked attack. During the titan’s rampage, Bernie discovers a massive device located many levels under the facility. Godzilla is claimed to have turned against mankind, something Madison doesn’t believe or accept. She turns to her friend Josh (Julian Dennison) to help her investigate Godzilla’s attack.
Former Monarch scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgaard) is recruited by the CEO of Apex, Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) to lead a team in the search for a power source believed to exist in the Hollow Earth, which is the titans’ homeworld. Nathan lost his brother during a previous attempt to access Hollow Earth and is reluctant to join the search due to the reverse-gravitational effect that they will encounter as they attempt to enter. However, when Simmons reveals he has developed HEAV’s, a specialized craft that can withstand the pressure exerted by the gravitational force, he agrees. He contacts his old friend Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) who is studying Kong on Skull Island and is Jia’s adopted mother to convince her to let Kong lead them into Hollow Earth via the opening in Antarctica. She reluctantly agrees.
Kong is sedated and placed, chained upon a modified barge which is accompanied by the U.S Navy. Ilene fears that Godzilla will know Kong is no longer on Skull Island and will come for him. And he does. The two titans go at each other with everything they’ve got. This doesn’t bode well for the Navy as most of the ships escorting the barge are destroyed. Kong seems to have the upper hand until Godzilla manages to pull him under the water where he has a distinct advantage.
The remaining ships wisely disable their power, tricking Godzilla into thinking they are all destroyed and are no longer a threat. He releases his grip on an unmoving Kong and swims away. Of course, Kong is alive but has been defeated. Round one goes to Godzilla. However, with Simmons’ daughter Maia (Eiza Gonzalez) in tow, they manage to airlift Kong to the entrance to the Hollow Earth where Jia convinces him to enter the tunnel with the team in tow via the HEAVs.
MADISON INVESTIGATES FURTHER
After managing to find and convince Bernie to join them in their investigation of Godzilla’s attack on the Apex facility, Madison and Josh sneak into the wrecked base. It is here that they discover a secret underground facility. They watch as many items are loaded into underground Monorail cars. After sneaking into one to see what they contain, the trio is locked inside and discovers the Monorail is taking them below the surface to an Apex headquarters in Hong Kong. While inside, Madison makes a shocking discovery about the cargo onboard their car. And an even bigger shock awaits them when they get to the Hong Kong facility. The truth is finally revealed about exactly why Godzilla attacked the Pensacola facility, the true nature of the expedition into Hollow Earth, and the final endgame is revealed.
ENTERTAINING BUT FLAWED
The film is a rather enjoyable and entertaining one for the whole family. We have Kong and Godzilla fighting it out. We have different creatures making their appearances in the film and we get an immense feeling of fun. Everyone has their own favorite out of the two protagonists and has their own hero to cheer for. The sets look amazing, the visuals are top-notch and there are some genuinely brilliant moments that look back at Kong’s history ever since he made his debut in 1933. Several callbacks to creatures and Kong’s mannerisms are here for all to see.
Herein lies a big problem. I adore Kong, always have, and always will. But the film is called ‘Godzilla vs Kong’. Godzilla has what can only be described as a cameo in his own movie. He turns up briefly, goes away, appears again briefly, goes away again, and then doesn’t show up until the finale. The Toho character is completely underused and that is a huge distraction from the film. This is supposed to be a battle for the ages between the pair. Instead, we get what can only be described as a damp squib. If this was a world heavyweight boxing championship fight on pay-per-view, there would be a huge demand for refunds for the cost paid out. It isn’t good enough or substantial enough to justify the title the film has.
Where the legendary Kong is concerned, he does indeed get some classic moments. In some scenes, he is the Kong we have come to know and love. Roaring, chest-thumping and easily defeating lower creatures that wish to take his crown. Again, there is a certain scene within Hollow Earth where some flying creatures decide, unwisely, to attack our human characters AND Kong himself. And it doesn’t end well for them. In true classic Kong style, he defeats them with some of his famous moves from the 1933 and 2005 versions of his story before looking disinterested and moving on.
This is how Kong should be. But for the main part, Kong is reduced to being a cuddly Gorilla friend for the character of Jia. It is moving and touching, don’t get me wrong. But by bringing this into play, they have watered down Kong. They have made him into a figure for younger children to love instead of being the fearsome beast he truly is.
The biggest problem with the film is the science part of it. Yes, I know this is supposed to be fantasy but come on! Suspension of disbelief is one thing. Having a fair chunk of what happens to seem like a rip-off of ‘Independence Day.’, ‘The Core’, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’, and other monster movies from the 1970s, most of which featured the late Doug McClure is another. The HEAV’s for example, you could find in many an outer space movie. But the film is set on EARTH!
Some of the plots feel like an abandoned pitch for ‘Space Invaders.’, the classic videogame. It shouldn’t be like this. Yes, for the most part, it is entertaining but you can’t expect an audience to take it seriously with this kind of stuff. To be honest, I was half expecting at some point to see Captain Kirk beam into the film from god knows where. The film does throw up a few interesting questions but they are largely buried under a mountain of outlandishness.
Oh, did I forget to mention the human cast of the film? Don’t worry, you haven’t missed too much. The cast is just there to move the story along until the next confrontation between the two titans. Except for Kaylee Hottle who plays Jia and gives a heartfelt performance, the human cast is left dangling from thin plotlines. Alexander Skarsgaard is one of the best actors around at the moment. Here, he is reduced to a token role, someone who is slightly bumbling, a genius but one that finds his inner strength late on.
We’ve seen it all before. Millie Bobby Brown is reduced to playing an annoying teenager. An’ I know everything’ braggart instead of being the tough, smart woman she was in the previous film. And the rest of the cast for the most part have very little to work with. Except to sprout some technical speak and then wait for their fates to be revealed to the audience. In all honesty, the cast had more to do in ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters’. And that was extremely thin on the ground.
Although I did find many things to be unneeded in the film, I must admit to finding it entertaining and amusing. And those big fans of both franchises will get a kick out of some of the easter eggs that appear in the film. From the already mentioned mannerisms from Kong up to part of the look and feel to the final fight with the REAL villain of the piece, the makers have done their homework well. Kong does take round two of the fight but at the end of the proceedings, the filmmakers said we would get a definitive winner. It is up to your interpretation. I don’t think there is an overall winner. But the final battle is emotionally enjoyable and one that I did indeed enjoy.
We were also told the film would complete the Monsterverse. It doesn’t. Just by looking at the final scene of the film, you can tell the door isn’t left slightly ajar. It is left completely wide open. Kong can swing through that door again. Or Godzilla can swim through it once more. Perhaps both may decide to cross the threshold again and enjoy another mayhem fuelled battle with some of the creatures from their previous movies. Who knows, we may get to see the JSDF return to fight against Godzilla again. Or perhaps Gigan? Maybe King Ghidorah may get reincarnated and decide to take on Kong? Or Rodan. The possibilities are endless. But until a final decision is made, sit back, switch off your brain and just enjoy Godzilla vs Kong for all its worth.
‘Godzilla vs Kong’ is distributed by Warner Bros. and is available now to own from all digital retailers!
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!