The fourth installment in the Monsterverse sees the long-awaited clash between Godzilla and King Kong in a battle of epic proportions. And what a battle it is. The monster fights are, without a doubt are the star of the film, and what is going to be the first thing people will ask when it comes to this film. Unlike the very muddy and dust galore carnage King of the Monsters brought back in 2019, every fight here is visually readable with some great choreography.
It also does justice to both titans. While there will be debates about who should truly win and why the film provides many fun beats that should satisfy fans regardless. Though Kong does get more of the narrative spotlight, with his relationship with a young deaf girl named Jia, that surprisingly added some real heart to the monster-filled mayhem.
Visually, Godzilla vs. Kong is very reminiscent of Skull Island regarding choices in lighting and color palette. And that is very much a good thing. Adam Wingard has quite frankly made a stunning film. He makes some very inspired choices during the action sequences that truly sell the scale and weight of these insane battles brought to life thanks to excellent CGI.
The best thing I will say about this film now is that it is completely self-aware of what it’s about and why we all are here. My biggest criticism of King of the Monsters was that it seemed unsure of itself and was stuck between being a sequel to the original 2014 Godzilla film and a Showa film. On the other hand, this film is gleefully glad to just monsters punch each other for our amusement. Sure it’s a simple plot, but that’s perfectly fine by me, and the film never outstays its welcome with short 113-minute runtime.
The most divisive aspect of this film will be the same thing that continues to be seen as the weak link in this franchise as a whole, and that will be the human characters. While it can be argued that they’re not the reason the general audience will see these films, they still play an important role in shaping the narrative and getting the monster involved to some extent. At the very least, the humans shouldn’t make the film aggravating to sit through. As was the case with King of the Monsters.
Thankfully the human plot is a lot more bearable in Godzilla vs. Kong. Again, the film’s self-aware nature plays to its strengths. While the previous film had this inane messaging about humanity being the infection that requires the titans to destroy everything to save the planet, the plot is much more simple and economical in pacing. And the aforementioned Jia did bring some real emotion in a way that could help the audience to connect with Kong more as an actual character.
That being said, for everyone else in the film, it might be a case of your mileage may vary. There really is no bad performance here which should be expected considering the talent on board. Still, there also isn’t much in the way of character development or human drama that could be argued would help ground the film from the eye level and make the battles just a little bit grander. And the comedy can be a bit hit or miss. There were a couple of characters that I’ve felt were wasted when they should have played a larger role in the narrative, knowing who there were.
In the end, though, I got what I came here for. I watched a dinosaur, and an ape duked it out. It left me pleased. And honestly, I couldn’t have asked for me than that.