“Godzilla vs. Kong” is the latest entry in Warner Brothers’ MonsterVerse Franchise. While I really enjoyed the first “Godzilla” film from 2014 that kicked off this franchise, both “Kong: Skull Island” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” were very disappointing. I thought that director, Gareth Edwards, did a fantastic job creating the monster’s enormous size during the fight scenes in the first Godzilla film and made the creatures feel like a legitimate threat to the human characters. Also, the human characters of that film were very grounded and used as a tool to show Godzilla’s incredible size.
However, both sequels suffered from an over-reliance on a large human cast. The films featured A-List actors with hollow writing, begging the audience to care about them. The monster fights seemed to be kept to a minimum and were much less impressive than the epic, massive scale fights from the first “Godzilla.” While “Godzilla vs. Kong” is wildly entertaining in parts due to its wild story and stunning visuals, it suffers from the same issue as its predecessors while not packing as big of a punch.
Of the four films in the “MonsterVerse,” I think that “Godzilla vs. Kong” utilizes its human characters the best in terms of integrating them into the story. While “Godzilla” used its characters to demonstrate scale overstory and the other two films used their characters as fodder for the monsters, “Godzilla vs. Kong” has a much stronger emotional core. In the film, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who grew up on Skull Island, has a strong connection to Kong himself. This connection is explored throughout the film and provides much-needed levity, and strengthens the purpose and urgency of the main characters’ goals. It was refreshing to see an actual connection between humans and monsters that made sense in the story’s grand scheme.
Another note on the story is how utterly “bananas” it is. The other movies in the MonsterVerse kept realism levels to ground the narrative and make the monster threats feel real. “Kong: Skull Island” deviated from this a little bit to showcase the crazy environment and creatures of the title location, but “Godzilla vs. Kong” doubles down on that insanity. This film has some crazy sequences and ideas, taking action in wild areas and exploring new concepts. There are twists and turns that shouldn’t be considered as such, but the choices are just so crazy that I couldn’t help but be entertained.
Here’s the thing about “Godzilla vs. Kong”… nobody cares about the narrative or about the characters or the writing or really anything regarding film structure. As long as the big fights that are advertised on the poster deliver, nothing else matters. I knew what I wanted from “Godzilla vs. Kong,” but did it provide at least that? Eh, not really.
The fights are pretty cool and are expertly constructed with visual effects, but I just wasn’t immersed in the action as I wanted to be. What won me over in “Godzilla” was the monsters’ sheer size and how huge they felt. They moved slowly, and their footsteps shook the theater. They also towered over skyscrapers and were shot to make the human characters small in comparison.
The fights in “Godzilla vs. Kong” are a shade of that. The characters move quickly and don’t demonstrate a consistent size throughout their battles. The camera gets way too close to these titans for the audience to see and feel how big they are. I know this is just about the dumbest thing you can say about a movie with Godzilla and Kong in it, but the action just didn’t feel “real.” It didn’t feel like there was any weight to the punches or collision. It fell very flat for me in the long run, and I don’t think I would revisit this film for the fights.
Despite my disappointment in the action scenes, there is still a lot of fun to be had with “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Adam Wingard knew exactly what this film needed to be, and the shades of it are there. It takes the audiences on a zany adventure with wacky creatures and has big fights to break up the slower bits. However, they are still just shades of what this movie could have been. There definitely could have been some more care put into the fights to make them seem a lot larger than life than they were. It’s not bad, but it’s something I probably won’t watch again.