The prospect of seeing two of movie’s greatest screen monsters battling it out is an exciting one. To its credit, once the monsters are actually battling, Godzilla vs Kong is a movie that is worth the big screen, blockbuster experience. Arguably, a giant ape fighting a giant lizard is not really substantial enough to hang a movie on and that is where Godzilla vs Kong falters.
When the titular battle is taking place, the action is set perfectly. They meet on a few key occasions in the movie and each time has distinct differences and cool moments. From Kong using weaponry and his surroundings to Godzilla powering-up the nuclear fire that has become this version of the character’s signature, this movie does a good job of showing what would happen if the two collided. For purists, you do also get an answer to who would win in the battle (in this version anyway).
The problem is, you can’t just have two hours of these monsters fighting and there has to be some sort of story. There are some good ideas within Godzilla vs Kong to hang a story on, with a journey to the Titan world at the centre of the Earth a key aspect. The problem is, so much of that means that not only do we get less Godzilla vs Kong than we would like, we actually get a lot less Godzilla completely.
This is a Kong movie. The giant ape is on screen for far more than his lizard counterpart and gets the actual human story element. Godzilla is almost treated like the movie’s villain, only arriving to wreak havoc while Kong gets proper story-beats, a personality and some sort of relationship with the human aspects of the movie.
Those humans are, as always with any monster movies of this kind, the weakest aspect. Unlike the two Godzilla movies before this one, they are terribly written and fall into every cliché imaginable. There is little to care about the human characters and they just fit key stereotypes, from the crusading scientist, the vulnerable little girl and the all too handsome professor. Some of the moments and lines written for these characters will genuinely make your skin crawl and you cringe at the thought that anyone believes people actually talk like this.
Unfortunately, these new Kong focused characters are the ones we spend far too much time with. Millie Bobby Brown and her screen-dad Kyle Chandler return from Godzilla: King of Monsters, but they barely register and because they represent the Godzilla-side of the story, are under-utilised. Brown’s aspect of the movie only comes into its own with the finale.
I won’t spoil the finale here but there is more to this film than Godzilla fighting Kong. The finale is a good idea and there is plenty of potential but this film doesn’t do it justice. It becomes far too predictable and not enough time is given to the idea, trying too hard to make it a “surprise” rather than any deeper plot point, that the finale feels rushed and wasted.
Overall, Godzilla vs Kong is at its best when Godzilla is actually fighting Kong. Unfortunately, as great as these moments are, they happen too infrequently and the rest of the film isn’t written well enough for it to work. The human characters are shallow and cliched and the finale has great potential which it wastes by trying to be “surprising.”
Rating – 3
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