Forget about Biden vs. Trump. Forget about Brady vs. Mahomes. Forget Rachael vs. Michelle. In Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), it’s the titans’ world, and we’re just living in it.
We open the movie on Skull Island, where Kong is held in a large dome as Monarch studies this beast they found several decades earlier, led by Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall). Meanwhile, something is brewing at Apex Cybernetics, and conspiracy theorist podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) is determined to get to the bottom of it. Bernie, however, has some competition to get there first: a giant, nuclear lizard named Godzilla. As Godzilla blasts away Apex’s Pensacola-based plant, humanity begins to realize their once-protector might be their greatest threat.
To stop Godzilla, Apex recruits Hollow Earth expert Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to do what was once thought impossible: gain passage through Earth’s subterranean tunnels and access the Hollow Earth. To do this, Apex needs Kong. But taking Kong out of Skull Island means making him a target of Godzilla, his ancient titan foe. As humans and Kong race to the Hollow Earth, Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) is determined to prove that there is more to Godzilla’s recent rampages than we know. And Apex is at the top of her list of suspects.
So let’s be clear: the title Godzilla vs. Kong promises that a skyscraper-sized gorilla is going to fight an equally-sized nuclear lizard. I hope it doesn’t have to be said that most movie goers will have to check all logic at the door for this one. If you’re going to get hung up on the fact that this movie totally butchers the explanation of genetic memory or that the center of the Earth is molten lava and rock and not actually a trippy Inception (2010)-meets-Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) titan paradise, then maybe this movie isn’t up your alley.
For the rest of us, this movie is a hell of a lot of fun.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are many, many other Godzilla and Kong movies that do the human-centric story much better than this one (even as recent as the superb 2014 iteration of Godzilla). But, given that we want to see the title matchup, I think director Adam Wingard, along with screenwriters Eric Peason and Max Borenstein, made the prudent decision to keep the human element concise enough for us to attach ourselves but still give us a lean movie that packs a titan-sized punch. The plot involving Apex and the Hollow Earth is downright silly, but I think everyone involved – from the crew to the viewers – have an absolute blast. Sometimes it’s good not to take yourself too seriously, and I think the whole cast realized this and ran with what they were given. The dialogue was punchy, goofy, and chock full of digestible pseudo-science. You root for and against the characters you’re supposed to root for and against, which isn’t always easy to pull off.
The rest of the movie is just the spectacle you deserve. Crazy neon colors, fights that traverse through exploding battleships, nuclear blasts that tunnel through the Earth, axe-wielding monkeys … I could watch this movie again and again and not get bored. As for the title matchup, there was much-ado about who would win, but by the end of the film, it doesn’t matter who wins; it’s about the friends we made along the way. Or in Godzilla and Kong’s case, it’s about the common enemy (worst-kept secret about this movie, but I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve been able to avoid it thus far).
And, while no one is exactly watching this movie for deep philosophical themes, I thought Wingard and co. did an admirable job still capturing the essence of what makes this a Godzilla/Kong movie, and that is the environmental aspects involved. The human villain’s motives aren’t exactly a stretch of the imagination; I would wager there would be all kinds of people scrambling to ensure that man is the apex species if titans actually existed on our planet. Seeing the hubris of man as the primary catalyst in this movie fits very much in a long line of films that carry this same message.
One of the bigger surprises to me was that there was no after-credit scene. Granted, after-credit scenes are way overdone these days (thanks, MCU), but you’d still think Legendary would want to tease what’s in store for our MonsterVerse. Perhaps this was a guarded approach to potentially wrapping it up? But, given the success of this movie, I can only hope to see more of our much-beloved titans. I mean, King Kong turns 100 in 12 years. Give us the birthday bash we need!
The past year (and some months) has been rough for a lot of us. Difficult times sometimes call for escapism, and Godzilla vs. Kong invites you with open arms into its Hollow Earth of escape. Watching two iconic titans duke it out is a spectacle for the ages and a cathartic release. It’s a big, loud, and fun film – one deserving of a big, loud, and fun viewing experience.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Monke Fight Lizard10.0/10
The Core Meets Journey to the Center of the Earth10.0/10
Man Struggling to be the Alpha10.0/10
Cast Having Fun Along the Way9.0/10
Godzilla Blasting through the Earth and Kong Crawling Up with an Axe10.0/10
- Director: Adam Wingard
- Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry
- Screenplay: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein
- Story: Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
- Music: Tom Holkenborg
- Cinematography: Ben Seresin
- Editor: Josh Schaeffer
- Studio: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures