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‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ knows how much dumb fun it is and owns it

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ knows how much dumb fun it is and owns it

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ knows how much dumb fun it is and owns it
April 09
13:00 2021

“If [Kong] leaves, Godzilla will come for him. There can’t be two alpha Titans.”

Years after 1973, an older Kong is contained at Skull Island, his only companions being the on-site Monarch research team and Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a mute orphan who can communicate with him through sign language. However, as Godzilla begins an unexpected rampage, the researchers move Kong out. As the Titans clash, a sinister research company operates from the shadows.

A long-awaited rematch nearly 60 years in the making, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is set to not only culminate Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse which began with 2014’s “Godzilla” reboot but deliver one slamming, drag-out brawl between two titanic pop cultural icons. With the fate of the franchise resting on this installment, can “GvK” deliver the knockout blow it needs to not only satisfy audiences but keep the MonsterVerse going?

Perhaps. It certainly delivers on the first part.

This movie knows exactly what it is and what audiences want to see — the world’s most famous radioactive lizard with bad breath and the world’s biggest ape beat the absolute hell out of each other. “Godzilla vs. Kong” has plenty of that, and it’s great. While adhering to some of the more serious tones that defined the 2014 reboot, director Adam Wingard‘s approach is a little looser. This allows him to go from pyrotechnic wrestling matches to city-scale, no-holds-barred beatdowns where Kong and Godzilla unleash their full might against each other.

Kong doesn’t just slam into Godzilla and Godzilla doesn’t just use his atomic breath — they ambush each other, use the environment to one-up the other and even make creative use of their strengths. Yes, there were plenty of memes about how Kong would trounce Godzilla using his “superior intellect,” but his increased size and intuitive thinking actually do pay off and result in sequences where he absolutely punishes the King of the Monsters. In turn, the Big G displays a surprising strategic prowess and even sadism here, even when he’s more on Kong’s element.

Speaking of the environment, Wingard should be praised for setting the three big fights in areas where the monsters are always visible. Even the one match set at night takes cues from “Pacific Rim,” setting the real fight between the two alphas in a neon-lit Hong Kong. Wingard takes full advantage of the vertical landscape, letting Kong attack Godzilla from on-high, dodge radioactive fire as it cuts through the cityscape and has each titan slam each other through skyscrapers. There are only two real fights between Godzilla and Kong, but both are very constructed and exciting.

Props to the creators for actually picking a definitive winner in the match-up. Yeah, there is a predictable team-up for the climax, but a definitive winner is picked beforehand. No cop-out here.

There’s also just burning creativity here. Wingard and the writers do balance a little of the 2014 movie’s tone, yet they also choose to mostly embrace the lighter, heavy sci-fi concepts of the ’60s and ’70s Godzilla movies. “Godzilla vs. Kong” really does take advantage of nearly 60 years of technological advancement to bring to life some pretty out-there plot points and concepts in its already bonkers universe. Some of these are silly, but the sincere wonder they’re treated with gave me a sense of awe that was up there with some of the best blockbusters.

Even the human subplots don’t detract from the overall experience this time around. The two main threads don’t really connect, though one of them is surprisingly heartfelt. The aforementioned friendship between Jia and Kong is really well done, with actress Hottle giving a really effective performance as one of the last natives on the island. She not only brings out emotion from Kong, who’s much more of a character this around, she actually provides a solid, beating heart for the movie.

Now, not everything is great. The main human subplot involving the scientists (played by Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall) isn’t that interesting and neither is the returning Millie Bobby Brown character. Still, they’re at least performed well, with Brian Tyree Henry providing some laughs as does Julian Dennison. The human villains do still suck, though.

That being said, there is a surprise villain that, while kind of shoehorned in, was pretty cool to see. Their fight involves some breakdowns in the editing, even if it still results in a really satisfying climax. There are also some issues with the scale that pop up, but then again the CGI kaiju films haven’t really nailed that since the 2014 movie and “Pacific Rim.”

In the end, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is not only a great remake, but it’s also a fantastic Kong and Godzilla movie, even if it is more Kong’s. It payoffs on both rebooted franchises and delivers completely on the much-hyped rematch. While the road to getting this movie out was rough, it makes the case for the continued survival of the American version of Godzilla and Kong’s own resurgence into the 21st century.

Will’s rating: 3.5/5

Courtesy Warner Bros.

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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