Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) review: This spectacular entry in the MonsterVerse delivers absolutely everything you could possibly want
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There are plenty of movie universes or shared universes out there at the minute. From Marvel’s juggernaut franchise to Sony’s unusual Spider-Verse hopes, to DC’s ever unfurling extended universe. But one of my personal favourites is by far Legendary’s MonsterVerse, starting in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, onto Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island and then to Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, every entry has been its own wonderful take on the kaiju film and gone from a mankind’s view of Titan destruction, to a monster melee action film, to a biblical epic in ancient monster war, but in Adam Winged’s Godzilla vs. Kong we may just have a film closer to Toho studios’ mad and meaningful spirit than any Western monster movie has ever achieved before.
This film sees Godzilla and Kong brought together in battle, when Godzilla unexpectedly starts turning violent and nobody knows why. As he runs wild, megabucks technology corporation Apex Cybernetics approaches former Monarch Geologist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to help them find a great power source in the Hollow Earth and they come up with a plan to use Kong to help them do so. This dangerous mission is overseen by Monarch linguist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) alongside a young Skull Island native girl Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who has formed a strong connection with Kong. This mission ultimately sees the two title Titan alphas come face-to face. Meanwhile, Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) conducts her own investigation into what is provoking Godzilla, as she seeks out Titan conspiracy podcast host Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), who has his own ideas about what’s occurring.
Godzilla vs. Kong is a crowd pleasing kaiju KO that delivers on every single promise it made to us. The plot is nuts in the best possible ways and still makes time to form a number of more resonant connections, particularly in Kong and Jia’s rather beautiful scenes together. The film is a bonkers blend of Jules Verne, Aquaman and Pacific Rim, a story that is adventurous, fun and captures the heart of the Toho films better than any in the MonsterVerse yet, even fitting in a nod to a much GIF’d moment in the 1963 original King Kong vs. Godzilla film, one of a few references in fact. Proclaimed as “dumb fun” by the critics, the film is pretty loopy certainly but I wouldn’t call it dumb, as there are – in true Toho tradition – a number of themes here to chew on. Much like Dougherty’s last film, it has an eco-ideology under-pinning the action, in compelling themes of nature’s healing and redemptive power in the face of mankind’s destructive thirst for domination and control, or to put it rather more bluntly, Godzilla vs. Kong is a tale of nature’s grace and mankind’s disgrace.
The human characters are likeable and fun actually, contrary to what many have said, but admittedly some are more slight than others, simply becoming monster fodder or macguffin, but there is still great fun to be had in the company of Skarsgård and Hall on one mission, with the more comedic teaming of Millie Bobby Brown and Brian Tyree Henry, alongside Deadpool 2’s Julian Dennison, on the other. The standout character is most certainly Hottle’s Jia, who is a heart to Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein’s massively scaled screenplay. Mind you, this is ultimately Kong and Godzilla’s show after all, and boy do they deliver on that front. Kong has not had this much character since his earliest days in cinema and Godzilla is likewise full of feeling here, as these two proud and powerful Titans are almost like warring lions in the pride…and their battles are equally epic.
The fight sequences are skyscraper crunchingly excellent, evoking those Godzilla games I loved as a kid in their city levelling scale. Kong and Godzilla’s battles grow and grow throughout in their enormity and it concludes in a final third that is not only a dazzling showcase of what the latest CGI is capable of but also a perfectly executed spectacle by a director and team who not only have listened to their audience but love the source material they have at their disposal. Backed by a killer Tom Holkenborg score, which underpins the gorgeous visuals and screen-igniting cinematography by Ben Seresin, with emotion and hair raising excitement.
I was left grinning from ear to ear for the whole wonderful immeasurably satisfying experience, and I cannot wait to see this again but on the big screen! This film is a perfect argument for the survival of the cinema experience and in its early and deserved international box office success, these two legendary monsters may have just done what nobody else in Hollywood has been able to do and save that experience for us all.
Beautiful, action-packed, fun and just what we needed at this moment, you simply couldn’t ask for more.