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
To its credit, Godzilla vs. Kong, which released in theaters earlier and is now available on BookMyShow stream, makes one correct assumption – that the audience is only here for the titular brawl – and it works hard to deliver on that. In fact, it over delivers. There are three spectacular, visceral brawls, and the audience is all the better for it.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth in the series of Legendary's MonsterVerse, which kicked off with 2014's Godzilla, introduced our second protagonist Kong in Kong: Skull Island (2017) and then set up this match-up by introducing the larger Titans line-up in Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019). As a trilogy, it is an uneven one. However, the movies have made the effort to slowly chip away at the flab and errors that have bogged them down. Godzilla vs Kong is the culmination of that evolution, and it does deliver on its title's promise.
Set five years after the events of Godzilla: King of Monsters, the movie kicks off with Godzilla destroying an Apex Industries facility. Something has the benevolent King of the Titans enraged and Monarch, the agency tracking Titans worldwide cannot figure out what. Cue corporate greed subplot with a late payoff.
Meanwhile Kong is being observed under a Monarch dome, set up on Skull Island, and has a fondness for Jia, last Iwi native on the island under Monarch scientist Dr. Ilene Andrews' (Rebecca Hall) care. The Iwi-Kong relationship plays an important part through the film, building on Kong's connection and affinity with humans. The film's male lead Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) is a former Monarch scientist and is convinced that Kong can lead them to Hollow Earth – a subterranean world that was the birthplace of his species and perhaps of the titans themselves.
Of all the sub-plots and themes in the movies, the Hollow Earth one allows the movie to stretch its fantasy and science-fiction limits the most. The results are both visually stunning, and tee up the main Titan vs Titan action perfectly. The Hollow Earth thread also allows the franchise to build a larger mythos, and thereby justify possible future installments.
I wish I could say that about the rest of the characters and sub plots.
"An ant has no quarrel with a boot," said Loki in Avengers (2012). This holds very true for both the humans, and their respective stories in Godzilla vs Kong. The characters and their stories are mostly irrelevant. Even while serving the function of setting up the three showdowns between the titans, they are just marginally more sufferable than the previous movies. Godzilla and Kong are the boots, and the humans are the ants you wish were crushed already to start off the main fights quickly.
But when the fights do start, Godzilla vs Kong outshines its predecessors and other Hollywood contenders. The showdowns between the titans are visceral, innovative and stunning. Director Adam Wingard gets rid of the dark cinematography that bogged down the previous Titan fights. The showdowns take place at night and during the day, but the fluid fight choreography highlights each Titan's strength and styles, and makes it clear as to who won and why. That's the kind of attention to detail you really want from a movie named Godzilla vs. Kong – and boy does it deliver.
The movie also gets both the titans right – Kong is portrayed as flawed, empathetic and yet every bit the king he is destined to be, while Godzilla is the force of nature we know, righteous and justified in his wrath. By the time the credits roll, you are either Team Kong or Team Godzilla and that's the movie's greatest strength.
Like the other three installments, Godzilla vs. Kong is a cinematic experience best enjoyed on the largest screen possible, and works best when it keeps the camera and the story focused on its key titans – and away from everything human, including the other titan at the end, which I will not spoil.