Movie Review: Godzilla Vs Kong (English)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Universe has made it clear once and for all that creating film series and getting popular characters from different films together is a great formula. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures probably got inspired by this aspect and created a MonsterVerse. After delivering three films in this universe – GODZILLA [2014], KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017] and GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS [2019], the fourth and the highly awaited film is here – GODZILLA VS. KONG. The trailer has got a great response and the memes and jokes surrounding the epic battle in the film have contributed to the film’s hype. So does GODZILLA VS. KONG manage to give audiences a highly entertaining time? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

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GODZILLA VS. KONG is the story of the gigantic clash of two titans. It is a usual day at the Pensacola, Florida complex of Apex Cybernetics. Suddenly, Godzilla attacks the company facility without any provocation and causes massive destruction. Till now, Godzilla was seen as the saviour of the humanity but this episode makes him the villain of the world. Meanwhile, in Skull Island, Kong has been kept in a very wide enclosure by Monarch. Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) works in the facility as an anthropological linguist. She has been trying her best to communicate with Kong and to understand his behavioural patterns. She is surprised when she finds out one day that her adopted mute daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle) manages to forge a bond with Kong and communicate with him. Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) is hired by Apex’s chiefs, Ren Serizawa (Shun Oguri) and Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir), based on his research and a book on the titans. Ren and Walter plan to lure Godzilla into the Hollow Earth through an opening in Antarctica and then destroy him there. Godzilla and Kong have a very old rivalry and they feel that if they manage to get Kong at Hollow Earth, Godzilla would follow and their purpose could be achieved. In no time, Monarch gives the go-ahead to take Kong to Antarctica for the mission. Kong is chained and taken into a vast ship. Dr Ilene, Jia, Dr Nathan and a top Apex executive, Maia Simmons (Eiza González), also accompany Kong in the ship. Dr Ilene orders to take a detour so that they don’t pass through Godzilla’s usual route while in sea. Yet, Godzilla senses Kong’s presence and it attacks the ape. Kong manages to save himself but gets grievously injured. With the help of Jia, he manages to recover. Meanwhile, in Florida, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), an Apex employee is running a podcast wherein he’s telling his listeners that all is not well in the company. He finds a fan in Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), the daughter of Monarch scientists Mark (Kyle Chandler) and the late Emma Russell. She manages to track Bernie down. Bernie shares with her that a mysterious shipment is about to be sent to Apex complex in Hong Kong. To find out more about it, they infiltrate into the almost-destroyed Apex facility in Pensacola, Florida. Both are also joined by Madison’s nerdy friend, Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison). What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields’s story is entertaining and has all the ingredients of a grand, cinematic spectacle. Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein’s screenplay is highly effective. The focus is firmly kept on the battle between the two monsters and the build-up. A few human characters don’t get the deserved screen space but the writers compensate for it to some extent by giving some excellent scenes to the track of Jia and that of Bernie, Madison and Josh. Dialogues contribute a lot to the humour, especially in the track of Bernie.

Adam Wingard’s direction is simple and commercial. He makes the whole experience palatable for all kinds of viewers, especially for the masses and family audiences. What’s praiseworthy is that he packs in a lot in just 113 minutes. Though both monsters come face to face for a limited time, the build-up is done in a superb fashion. Also once they start fighting, viewers get totally involved. In fact, he has ably handled the climax and it is sure to give a <em>paisa vasool</em> experience to the viewers. On the flipside, to see Godzilla as the villain might not go down well with a section of viewers, especially those who have been emotionally invested with the monster in the previous MonsterVerse films. Secondly, in the process of keeping the focus on Godzilla and Kong, the villain track suffers. The antagonists hardly get time to shine. As a result, their back story and their character motivation are never explained properly. Not just them, even the characters of Dr Ilene and Dr Lind suffer from weak characterization. Lastly, it’s bewildering to see how soon Kong is allowed to leave Skull Island and travel to Antarctica. Knowing the dangers that Kong has in the open sea from Godzilla, a few minutes should have been spent to show Monarch and Apex management discussing the pros and cons of the mission.

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GODZILLA VS. KONG begins on a very sweet note and the tone suddenly changes into a shocking one as we realize that though Kong is roaming free in Skull Island, he’s actually caged from all sides. The attack on the Apex facility in Florida sets the mood. Much of the first hour is spent on introducing the characters, their motives and of course, the grand voyage in the sea with Kong. The first battle between Godzilla and Kong is highly entertaining. But the first half is not just about thrill and action. The emotional bond between Kong and Jia is sweet and adds a lot to the film’s appeal. Post-interval, a lot of unanswered questions get answered. Kong’s experience in Hollow Earth and Antarctica is also something to watch out for. But as expected, the best is reserved for the finale. The climax battle is epic in a lot of ways. The film ends on a completely justified note.

Speaking of performances, Rebecca Hall underplays her part very well. She gives her best even though her character is not fully developed. Kaylee Hottle is like the soul of the film. She expresses beautifully with her eyes and expressions and all her scenes are memorable. Alexander Skarsgård is fine and gets very limited scope. Brian Tyree Henry is highly entertaining as the talkative conspiracy theorist. He gets to mouth some of the best lines in the film. Millie Bobby Brown puts up a confident act. Julian Dennison is entertaining. Shun Oguri and Demián Bichir are okay as the villain. Shun Oguri plays a character named Serizawa and probably this means he’s probably related to Ishirō Serizawa, the Monarch hero who sacrificed his life in GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. But this connection is not mentioned in the film, not even for a second. Kyle Chandler essays the part from the previous film in the series and this time, his role is limited to that of a cameo. Eiza González suits the part.

Junkie X L’s music score is thrilling. The Sound mixing also enhances the entertainment by many notches. Ben Seresin’s cinematography is stunning and adds to the fun and madness. Tom Hammock and Owen Paterson’s production design is rich and superior, just as the film demanded. Ann Foley’s costumes are realistic. Action is just right and thankfully, it’s neither too gory nor violent. VFX is one of the pillars of the film. The special effects are out of the world and one can see that the attempt has been to go one level up as compared to other films of the series. Hence, this time, Kong’s expressions are even more detailed and vibrant. At the same time, the destruction of the city in the climax is also quite extreme and unbelievable. Josh Schaeffer’s editing is razor sharp as the film moves at a quick speed.

On the whole, GODZILLA VS. KONG is a <em>paisa vasool</em> entertainer which would be best enjoyed on the big screen. The film is laced with a great story and build-up and the climax battle between the monsters is amazing. At the box office, the film has taken the best start for any film since the lockdown, despite it being a mid-week release. In the days to come, it’s sure to attract more and more family and mass audiences. The rise in the Covid cases may have some negative impact but the opening has made it clear that the impact will be minimal.

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