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Godzilla vs Kong (2021) - Movie Review

Godzilla vs Kong (2021) - Movie Review
8 10

PLOT: Do you want to see a radioactive dinosaur fight a giant gorilla-like ape? Good, because this is the movie for you.

LOWDOWN: To be as transparent as possible, I didn't care for Godzilla (2014). I think it had its heart in the right place, but it lacked an essential part, having Godzilla actually in it. This ain't Jaws, so please don't waste my time and hide the shark, which in that case was a giant radioactive lizard. Godzilla: King of the Monsters took that general feedback and gave us a true American love-letter to the OG, which leads us to the review at hand. I bring you Godzilla vs. Kong (WATCH IT HERE).

I usually tell you to pour a drink if the going is about to get rough, but this time, I ask you to pour yourself a celebratory beverage as Godzilla vs. Kong delivers on its straightforward promise of monsters kicking ass. There will be some minor spoilers ahead if you want to go in blind. The first thing that you should know is that this is a Kong movie, first and foremost. Kong is not only the protagonist, but Godzilla vs. Kong is more of a sequel to the underrated Kong: Skull Island than Godzilla: King of the Monsters. We have some King Of Monsters characters sprinkled in, but this is Kong's movie. Just for the sake of clarity, it's best to know that this ain't from the perspective of Godzilla.

When it comes to giant creature features, the golden rule is that if you are going to cut away and populate your movie with humans that take up precious fightin' time, then don't waste mine. And for the most part, Godzilla vs. Kong does a great job of giving our human characters purpose and not just as screensavers in between fights. The humans make up two separate storylines here. The primary and more enjoyable one deals with a group of scientists on a mission to the earth's center; it's here where a "hidden world" exists. Led by Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) and Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), the hope is to return Kong to his true home and avoid the impending conflict with Godzilla.

We then have the second story with Millie Bobby Brown, who is back as Madison Russell. Madison is on a mission along with Julian Dennison and Brian Tyree Henry's characters to uncover the evil happenings at a company called Apex Cybernetics. The same company that's funding the expedition that is helping Kong get home. Hmmm, nothing suspicious there. Since the expedition plot is tied directly into Kong and, therefore, Godzilla, this sneaking into an evil corporation subplot is somewhat lame. It does lead somewhere badass in the end, but it should have merged with the central storyline, which could have kept things a bit tighter. I'm not saying it's a complete waste, but it feels like it's included solely for the purpose of a shared universe with Godzilla: King of the Monsters and nothing more.

I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed the sci-fi adventure with Nathan and Ilene. Discovering a new world and its fundamental importance while escorting Kong to safety made sense narratively and, though a bit goofy, gave the human characters a sense of purpose. It also helps that Ilene's adopted deaf daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) has made a deep connection with Kong and communicates with him via sign language. Jia is the heart of the movie, and I got some serious Congo vibes with the relationship between her and Kong. It's a fun idea to see Kong go along on this journey willingly. Also, Congo rocks, don't @ me!

Kong and Godzilla have an ancient rivalry, and what matters most is how well these two do battle. Let me tell you, man, the fights here are great. We get two lengthy all-out brawls that would, in the real world, lead to a total economic collapse, but it's a feast for the eyes regardless. Is it predictable? Sure, but at least this delivers on its central promise and goes all-in. Godzilla vs. Kong doesn't make the cardinal sin and rushes the action either. It lets the carnage breathe. We get improvised weapons, vicious KO's, and each titan actually gets hurt. They get worn out and battle-damaged, which is a great detail to see in a movie like this. Godzilla and Kong get F*CKED UP.

On the flipside, Godzilla vs. Kong wants to be both a sequel to Skull Island and King Of Monsters while also being the Justice League/Avengers for both. Because of this, characters and plot points exist for the sake of continuity and nothing else. The Apex Cybernetics story beat was predictable and was only added to keep King Of Monsters relevant. With the tight runtime and a more engaging adventure with Kong, Madison Russell and friends just bogged things down with a tedious side plot. Other characters got pushed aside because of time. Demián Bichir plays Walter Simmons, the head of Apex Cybernetics, and isn't used to his potential. I love this guy and would have preferred for him to have more screentime. Then the great Kyle Chandler cameos as Mark Russell for, like, five minutes of the movie. Why have these two great actors and do nothing with them?

GORE: For a PG-13 flick, there isn't any blood or gore, but the fighting does get brutal even without the red stuff.

BOTTOM LINE: Godzilla vs. Kong is predictable and yet, surprising in its execution. The promise of a battle between the two isn't squandered, and when they do kick the sh*t out of each other, it gets epic and intense. For the most part, even the human characters don't get in the way and even give the story motivation by being included. Director Adam Wingard humanized both beasts organically and somehow told a story where the battles don't seem too convoluted. I had a damn good time with this, and I'm glad to see these two titans meet under such pleasing circumstances. You know what you are getting into with Godzilla vs. Kong, and yet it still delivers.

Godzilla vs. Kong premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31st.

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