Director: Adam Wingard
Writers: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein, Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cinematography: Ben Seresin
Edited by: Josh Schaeffer
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall, Eiza González
Streaming on: BMS Stream
In one sequence in Godzilla vs. Kong, the closed captions read: creature screeching, Kong grunting, bones crunching. And that pretty much captures the ethos of this large, loud, relentlessly fun movie in which two iconic creations – Godzilla and Kong – first go up against each other and then against an even more deadly enemy. The screen brims with aggression, rage and destruction, but the worst crimes are, as always, committed by human beings. You can always rely on greedy and arrogant corporate bosses to push the world to the brink of an apocalypse.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth installment in a franchise called the MonsterVerse. The first three entries are Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of Monsters. But even if you haven’t seen those films, you won’t have any trouble connecting the dots in this one. After all, we are here for one thing – to see the monkey fight the lizard. Director Adam Wingard gets that. Within the first 10 minutes, he gives us a full view of both creatures. And it is spectacular. First we see Kong, who is waking up, in his outpost on Skull Island. Like any human, he yawns and scratches his bum as he looks forward to the day. Godzilla, with his blue intimidation signal on display, is in a less friendly mode. His enormous, gaping jaw, jagged back and that death ray that he shoots out of his mouth are put to good use almost immediately as he attacks a facility in Florida.
Why would these two monsters, who were both positioned as saviours of humanity, get into a fight? I can’t fully explain it but there’s a threat involving powerful corporations. Kong is enlisted to help the human beings get to the core of the earth to find a new energy source. And also because, as we are repeatedly told, ‘There can only be one Alpha.’ The script, by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, and the story, by Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, rely on a patchwork of ancient myths and pseudo-sciences to explain what happens. We get lines like, ‘It’s a psionic uplink which follows its will.’ And the bad guys are woefully underwritten. But thankfully enough care – in the writing and the CGI – has been lavished on our two heroes – Godzilla and Kong.
Godzilla has a fearsome majesty, but Kong has heart. His friendship with a young girl gives the film its emotional beats. But he is also rendered with staggering precision, from his beautiful fingernail – we get a close-up – to his teeth and hair. In his battle with Godzilla, Kong also gets hurt. His groans and frustration make him more human.
The humans in the film are mostly there to provide exposition, comic banter and to keep the story moving without getting in the way of the monsters. Rebecca Hall plays a scientist in Kong’s corner. Her ward Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, can communicate with Kong through sign language. Their friendship has a touching sweetness, especially because of the difference in size. There’s also Alexander Skarsgård as a geologist and Demián Bichir as a shady corporate bigwig. Neither has much to play with and poor Bichir is forced to be the formulaic baddie – complete with scotch and a smoking jacket.
But the monsters and their battles don’t disappoint. They clash on sea and on land, and these action sequences are staged superbly. In the climax, much of Hong Kong is destroyed as the two ram into each other and every blow causes buildings to be smashed into smithereens. We see humans scurrying away like ants, but the film and we can’t be bothered to worry about them. The monsters are way more interesting.
Watching Kong land one on Godzilla’s jaw is exactly the escapist movie high you need in the middle of a pandemic. I wish I had seen the film in a theatre. But for now, you can buy or rent Kong vs Godzilla on BMS Stream.