Of all the 2020 movies that got pushed back because of the pandemic, Godzilla vs Kong hit me the hardest. It was my most anticipated film of the year, and when I made my most anticipated list for 2021 (yes, I’m that nerdy), it was at the top once again. As a massive kaiju fan, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for this movie ever since it was announced back in 2015, so it feels almost surreal that it’s finally here. And I’m happy to say, it was totally worth the wait.
Directed by Adam Wingard, Godzilla vs Kong stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, and Kaylee Hottle. When the story starts, Monarch is studying Kong on Skull Island, and Godzilla begins uncharacteristically attacking human cities. Nobody knows why he’s suddenly turned heel, but a tech company called Apex wants to build a weapon to defend the human race against him. They enlist the help of some current and former Monarch scientists to take Kong from Skull Island, and they journey to an ancient titan homeland in the center of the earth in hopes that he’ll lead them to a power source unlike any that humanity has ever known.
At the same time, a conspiracy theorist podcaster and two teenagers suspect that Apex is doing something to set off the king of the monsters, so they infiltrate the company to find out what it is. The movie essentially switches its focus back and forth between these two groups, and all the different plot threads eventually come together when Godzilla and Kong clash in one of the greatest kaiju battles of all time.
If that sounds like too much plot for this kind of movie to handle, don’t worry. The human story in Godzilla vs Kong is actually pretty decent. Sure, the film isn’t going to win any best screenplay Oscars, and there’s a ton that I could nitpick if I really wanted to, but it gets the job done. It gives you a reason to follow the monsters without taking too much screen time away from them, and in my book, that’s what the human story in a kaiju movie should do.
But enough about the puny humans. Nobody is going to watch a movie called Godzilla vs Kong for the human characters. It’s all about the two titular titans, and this is where the film really shines. The kaiju action here is top-notch, and the fight scenes are just as good as we’ve come to expect from the MonsterVerse.
In particular, I really liked how the film showcases these two monsters’ very different fighting styles. For starters, Godzilla uses the same techniques he’s used in his previous MonsterVerse films, going all-out on Kong with every natural advantage he has, like his claws, his tail, and of course his atomic breath. As much as I love the old movies with a guy in a rubber suit, the authentically animalistic way that Godzilla movies and fights in these movies is unparalleled, and it’s on full display here.
In contrast, Kong is the smarter and more agile of the two, and he has to use those advantages if he wants to even stand a chance against Godzilla. As any self-respecting giant ape should, he uses all four limbs to attack from some unexpected angles, and when he finds himself in a big city, he jumps, runs, and climbs up buildings just like he’s back in the jungles of Skull Island.
Every time these big screen behemoths collide, it’s an absolute treat to watch, and you can tell that the filmmakers behind Godzilla vs Kong have nothing but love and respect for them. Both Godzilla and Kong get their time to shine, so when the credits roll, you don’t feel like either of them was shortchanged. You get chances to root for both of them, and if you don’t already love them, you will by the end of the film.
All that being said, Godzilla vs Kong isn’t a perfect movie. Even aside from the inevitable issues with the human characters, it has some noticeable flaws. For one, I was let down by some of the CGI, especially when Godzilla was on screen. Kong looked amazing for the most part, but there were several times when Godzilla wasn’t nearly up to par.
Secondly, and more importantly, while both monsters get an equal share of the action, the story is divided much less evenly. In a very real sense, this is Kong’s movie. Since there are two groups of humans, you’d think that one group would follow Kong and the other would follow Godzilla, but that’s not how it works. Yes, the scientists do tag along with Kong, but Godzilla isn’t physically with the podcaster and the kids. Instead, he just shows up every once in a while to fight Kong or attack a city, so for the first two acts, this very much feels like a King Kong film with Godzilla just making a few (admittedly awesome) appearances here and there.
But at the end of the day, those are relatively minor issues. I still loved every minute of Godzilla vs Kong, and if you’re a kaiju fan, I think you will too. While it’s far from perfect, this film does the most important thing that any giant monster movie needs to do: it gets the monsters right. It gives both Godzilla and Kong plenty of time to shine, and the big fight scene at the end is one of the greatest kaiju battles I’ve ever seen. We don’t know if Legendary’s MonsterVerse will continue after this, but if it doesn’t, Godzilla vs Kong is a great way to cap off this awesome franchise.
Godzilla vs Kong hits theaters and HBO Max on March 31.