Runtime: 113 minutes
Director: Adam Wingard
Writers: Eric Pearson (screenplay), Max Borenstein (screenplay), Terry Rossio (story), Micahel Dougherty (story), and Zach Shields (story)
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Kaylee Hottle, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, and Julian Dennison.
Release: 24 March 2021 in theatres (Singapore)
Score: 4 out of 5 stars
The first clash between King Kong and Godzilla happened all the way back in 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla, and now the pair face off again in Godzilla vs. Kong. And it's every bit as glorious and fun as you might expect when two giant, feral creatures beat each other to a pulp in the middle of populated metropolises. It's taken us 7 years to get here since Warner Bros. rebooted the Godzilla franchise in 2014, but it's definitely paid off.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth film in the Monsterverse franchise, and serves as a sequel to Godzilla: King Of Monsters and Kong: Skull Island. In this monster movie, scientists attempt to find a lost world with Kong's help, while Godzilla seems to be making unprovoked attacks around the world. They soon discover that there's a sinister force manipulating events, even as the two titanic monsters clash. The world may not survive this clash of the titans.
First things first — how are the kaiju (giant monsters) fights in the film? In a word: spectacular. Godzilla and Kong clash multiple times throughout the film, and each time they fight, the collateral damage goes through the roof. Their fights are as visceral and savage as you might expect, with one or the other winning different battles. Plus, there's a "final boss" fight when a menace unlike any they've ever seen before arrives as an unexpected challenger. There are laser blasts, collapsing buildings and explosions galore, which is exactly what you're here for.
That's because Godzilla vs. Kong feels like a Japanese kaiju movie made with a Hollywood film budget. For a comparison, the most recent live-action Japanese Godzilla film, Shin Godzilla, cost US$15 million to make, while Godzilla vs. Kong reportedly had a budget of at least US$160 million — and the gulf in production quality is obvious between the two. Thankfully, this movie's production budget all went towards realising the Japanese kaiju film sensibilities that previous American adaptations of monster films didn't truly embrace, from the over-the-top villainous schemes and events that defy logic to epic and cathartic battles in densely populated human cities. And it works well when it's depicted with love, care, and a huge budget.
But in between all those fights is an actual plot which is surprisingly interesting in its own way. Human scientists go off in search of a MacGuffin that, predictably, requires the help of one of the monsters. It's the stuff of old science fiction movies that are based on pseudoscience. However, in a film that acknowledges the existence of massive creatures roaming around the planet, it's actually a good fit, and makes for a relatively engaging breather in between the throwdowns between Godzilla and Kong.
Nevertheless, it has to be acknowledged that believability is frequently thrown out the window in favour of creating memorable set pieces where Godzilla and Kong lay the smackdown on each other. It's a no-holds-barred approach to making the visuals look as amazing as possible, and the lack of logic actually works in the movie's favour. After all, you're effectively watching a fantastical science fiction wrestling match, so why not leverage on that and have fun with it?
If you're a fan of Godzilla, though, you might find it curious why Kong is framed as the protagonist of the film. Admittedly, the film concludes with both the monsters as equals, and Godzilla is given his fair share of screen time and victories as well. Still, it felt a little strange that sides were seemingly taken in the movie.
Also, the first Act of the film is horrendously draggy, so bring along a snack as the film plods through that. The action quickly ramps up after the first clash between Godzilla and Kong though, and it's a non-stop ride from then till the end of the film. It's not a deal breaker, but fair warning should be given.
Godzilla vs. Kong is pure, ridiculous fun which comes from taking a premise and unabashedly running with it, no matter how silly it may seem. It pays little heed to logic in its pursuit of entertainment — but it's incredibly entertaining to see monsters throwing everything they've got at each other as chaos reigns amongst them. It was well worth the wait to see these two monsters fighting each other on screen again.