Godzilla vs. Kong

When Godzilla unexpectedly attacks Pensicola, FL, young Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) seems to be the only one who notices that it is the base of Apex Cybernetics.  Around the world Monarch researcher Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is fretting over Kong’s rebellion against the biodome they’ve placed him under when Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) arrives with an outrageous proposal to bring Kong to where he believes the Titans originated, Hollow Earth, in an effort to save Kong and stop Godzilla’s rampage.  But the massive undertaking of transporting Kong to Antartica will draw out his nemesis in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

Laura's Review: C-

Someone ought to inform the three credited for this story (the screenplay was written by others, "Thor: Ragnarok’s” Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein of 2014's "Godzilla" and "Kong: Skull Island") that it takes more than two special fx sequences to create a satisfying movie experience.  “Godzilla vs. Kong” is chock full of illogical nonsense (Godzilla breathes fire, but never at Kong?   Andrews has studied Kong for years but never noticed her charge Jia (deaf actress Kaylee Hottle), also presumably under her watch, can communicate with him using sign language? On and on this stuff goes…) and people standing around staring for almost two hours all in support of a couple of epic monster battles.

Each of the monsters has a little girl as his champion.  We learn Jia was the last of the Skull Island natives, adopted by Andrews, and the only person Kong completely trusts.  Madison, an avid fan of Bernie Hayes’ (Brian Tyree Henry) corporate conspiracy podcast, believes in Godzilla as a good guy, and tracks down the adult, who is actually onto something, with her pal Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison, "Hunt for the Wilderpeople").

It’s hard to care about any of this, although Hall, Hottle and Henry evoke more rooting interest than this movie is worth.  As Apex Industries CEO Walter Simmons, Demián Bichir, outfitted like some kind of Batman villain, only need twirl his moustache to complete the cliché of his only disappointing performance to date while Eiza González gives poorly timed line readings as his daughter Maya, embedded with Lind and company.  Kyle Chandler and Lance Reddick pop up for continuity with earlier films and ‘The Daily Show’s’ Ronny Cheng zips in for a dollop of comedy.

Director Adam Wingard ("You're Next") is the latest filmmaker to be plucked from the Indie scene to head up a tentpole, but while he’s gotten a few good performances, he hasn’t tamed the screenplay.  He has, however, delivered monsters with personality whose two face-offs are the wheat among the chaff.  In fact, the final climactic battle, in which Kong and Godzilla communicate nonverbally when a third Titan enters the picture, is so entertaining, it raised the grade on this review up a notch – imagine the grade if just this scene had been delivered as a short, saving us all a whole bunch of time!  Even Tom Holkenborg’s score suddenly improves here, shaking off its generic bombast.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” could have delivered an important environmental message instead of falling back on the old evil corporate overlord cliché, one which it barely bothers to define.  Instead it offers about fifteen minutes of monster mayhem enshrouded in another hundred of expository muddle.

Robin's Review: C

I think the last blockbuster Hollywood film I actually was interested in seeing was probably “Die Hard (1988)” or, maybe “Speed (1994).” That interest has not included for the Marvel Universe (any of them) and, especially, the revivals of “Godzilla” and “King Kong.” (If you are going to watch any of the monster movies with these characters, do yourself a favor and go to originals, “King Kong (1933)” and “Godzilla (1954),” not to be confused with the American hacked-up original version in 1957 with Raymond Burr.)

As is the case for over 20 years, I let out a groan when I knew I had to see the latest pitting of “Godzilla vs. Kong.” And, for the first hour and forty minutes (it is just 1:53 long) the groan was totally justified and I would have panned the movie entirely. But, the last 10 minutes, when the titular faceoff takes place, is a slugfest that rivals the one in “Rocky IV (1985)” between Balboa and that despicable commie bastard, Drago (Dolf Lungren). This is not high praise but the whack fest at the end raises it up – a little bit.

Warner Brothers is opening "Godzilla vs. Kong" in theaters and on HBO MAX on 3/31/21.