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GODZILLA VS KONG Review- An almost perfect monster extravaganza

James reviews the highly anticipated monster showdown- Godzilla vs Kong



Godzilla vs Kong (Warner Bros. Pictures)

I am a huge Kaiju and Godzilla fan and I don’t say that lightly either. I love Godzilla and I have been so heavily invested in both the MonsterVerse and the original Toho universe. In fact, I spent a large majority of my lockdown researching Godzilla and gaining an appreciation for the cheesy yet revolutionary films that introduced Godzilla as well as a library of additional monsters. Now, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is probably one of my favourite films. There’s something about it that really pushed my passion into overdrive. I know it has its problems and despite watching it at least 4 times since December, those problems never tarnished my experience. Not once. However, my hope was that Godzilla vs Kong would look back and improve on those criticisms.

After years of waiting and speculating, Godzilla vs Kong is finally here. I sat down in my incredibly squeaky computer chair, turned all of the lights off, plugged in my headphones, and watched the biggest monster showdown to bless our screens. Unfortunately, I watched it on a considerably smaller screen which didn’t dampen the ride but it did make me hunger for that cinema experience. For now, I have no problem watching it on my TV, in fact I’m incredibly grateful that we actually have the film.

So, how is Godzilla vs Kong?

Round One…

It’s a really easy question to answer. I loved it.

What I want to do first is deal with the aspect that I think let it down the most. That way I can just go on a full on tangent about the things that make this film incredibly special. If you’ve followed the MonsterVerse from its inception back in 2014, you may already know the answer. Humans. The biggest criticism that plagued King of the Monsters was the sheer amount of screen time dedicated to the human characters, particularly during the monster battles. Now, Godzilla vs Kong absolutely rectifies this element. Fans can enjoy a lot of monster action mostly uninterrupted. However, I really liked the human story in King of the Monsters. I think it helped structure the entire film and I firmly believe that it was all relevant. Did they get in the way? yes they did.

But the problem with Godzilla vs Kong is that while they have cut back on the human characters (yay), they also made their characters very shallow. Honestly, many of the characters don’t add a lot to the film which might be considered a good thing for some viewers. For me, it was a shame to see a slight disregard for the cast, particularly when King of the Monsters helped introduce a rich mythology through their characters. This criticism applies heavily to Shun Oguri’s Ren Serizawa. As the son of a very important member of the MonsterVerse, I was hoping that he would add a certain depth to the film. Unfortunately, it’s not there.

Madison, Josh, and Bernie.

I was also expecting a lot more from Madison and her new friends. But they really don’t do a lot. I’d actually argue that they do nothing. Luckily, the humans following Kong add a lot of heart to the film and I actually grew to love their dynamic. Alexander Skarsgård is simply wonderful with Rebecca Hall and little Jia. Their connection to Kong really helps bring Kong to life in a way where we can actually understand him. It’s a shame because the established characters that have had a history in the MonsterVerse are just kept around purely for continuity.

Having said all that… And I mean this in the most respectable way possible, is anyone really watching Godzilla vs Kong for Alexander Skarsgård or Rebecca Hall? We’re here because Godzilla and King Kong have not shared the screen since 1962. This is an important showdown so it was pivotal for the Titans to remain in the spotlight.

And they did. I have watched a lot of action movies and monster movies so I was hoping for a few sequences that would show audiences why these awesome and powerful Titans are so loved and why they have continuously been integrated into popular culture. Godzilla vs Kong does that. I’d even argue that this epic showdown presents us with some of the best action I’ve ever witnessed. The fights are epic in scale, destructive, and immensely impressive. I could feel a very large smile growing on my face as Godzilla launched himself towards Kong in the neon cityscape. The fight scenes are just brilliant. You can feel every punch and attack while fully appreciating the scale of these monsters and the carnage that they are causing.

“Kong bows to no one”

What I truly loved was that they allowed each monster to flourish in their preferred environment. So, you get a battle in the ocean and then on land. With this, you’re able to truly see how these monsters move and how they can adapt based on their surroundings. While it is definitely a battle based on pure strength, wit also comes into play. The thing that I was incredibly intrigued by was the premise of a winner. Now, there is definitely a winner between the two Titans. But what’s great is that they both get their moments to shine and the loser still plays a very important role. Especially in the final act. So while there is definitely a loser… they’re also a winner. You’ll understand when you watch it but both Godzilla fans and Kong fans will walk away satisfied despite the result.

Obviously, a massive film like this was heavily reliant on visual effects. Godzilla vs Kong looks absolutely stunning. The monsters have never looked better and unlike King of the Monsters, we actually get some amazing close ups of each monster. Despite being a hardcore Godzilla fan, Kong really stood out. There is a lovely sequence where Kong comes into contact with snow and the way it sits on his fur and freezes is just beautiful. There is a lot of detail in this film and I’m astounded by how far we’ve come. Both Godzilla and Kong look fantastic and words can’t do them justice.

Godzilla prepares for war.

On top of that, we also had the introduction of the Hollow Earth. This element has been around for quite sometime but Godzilla vs Kong actually presents us with a visual representation. Part of me was actually worried about how the Hollow Earth would be included but they do a really good job and it looked great. Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a lot of time down there, but it’s anchored by some intriguing laws i.e gravity, plant life, and inhabitants. I would absolutely love to spend an entire film down in the Hollow Earth exploring its wondrous views and many curiosities. It’s truly a captivating world and it pushes the MonsterVerse into an uncharted territory that is full of new possibilities.

One of the final things to take away, especially when it is me reviewing, is the music. Bear McCreary’s work on King of the Monsters was absolutely incredible and it’s one of my all-time favourite soundtracks. So part of me was slightly nervous about how this soundtrack would turn out. But I had nothing to worry about. It’s Junkie XL after all. Tom Holkenborg did a fantastic job with Godzilla vs Kong especially when it came to reinventing the classic Godzilla theme. It’s grittier and definitely a lot more sinister than his previous theme which perfectly reflects Godzilla’s new attitude. As a composer, Holkenborg knows how to get the blood pumping with intense tracks. His soundtrack elevated many of the action sequences and gave the monsters, new and old, refreshing themes. However, I was slightly gutted by the fact that most of Godzilla’s theme was not transferred over. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Holkenborg’s soundtrack will be booming through my house this week.

Godzilla vs Kong isn’t perfect and I wasn’t expecting it to be. While the film managed to take previous issues surrounding human characters into account, it faltered slightly in regards to already established characters such as Madison Russell and her father. This same logic can be applied to Serizawa’s son who definitely has a role to play, but him being directly linked to Ishirō Serizawa isn’t even mentioned. That’s probably the biggest problem in Godzilla vs Kong and luckily it doesn’t impact the film too much. The rest of the film is every monster movie fan’s dream. Epic action, an expanding mythology, a booming soundtrack, and did I mention epic action? Considering the significance of these two characters interacting it was absolutely necessary for each monster to stand out and I could not have asked for a better film. Godzilla vs Kong is fun, awesome, and jammed-packed with insane fights and incredible CGI.

Are you excited for Godzilla vs Kong? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. UK audiences will be able to sit back and enjoy some monster-movie madness from April 1st. You do not want to miss this one.

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