Directed By Adam Wingard
Starring – Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall
The Plot – Legends collide as Godzilla and Kong, the two most powerful forces of nature, clash on the big screen in a spectacular battle for the ages. As a squadron embarks on a perilous mission into fantastic uncharted terrain, unearthing clues to the Titans’ very origins and mankind’s survival, a conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief adult language
– Bone-crunching action. Let’s get the meat of the film out of the way first, because it’s every bit enthralling in choreography as it is satisfying in allowance to the majority of this 108 minute film. As to where the two previous Godzilla films left more to be desired in the way of its often limited and interrupted sequence of physical conflicts that disappointed the easiest element to satisfy this particular audience on, this film makes them a priority, ultimately paying off in a way that actually justifies the massive amount of marketing spent on its showdown. For this generation’s in the making confrontation, the battles stand as one of the many things that have improved along the way, combining a variety of backdrops, as well as an arsenal of powerful deliveries that constantly help to keep the carnage and chaos fresh through three different rounds that these two titans take flight. One such fear that I was bracing myself to inevitably face was the disappointment of ambiguity in a winner that these verses films often don’t deliver on. However, “Godzilla Vs Kong” can be argued that it is different in this element to a certain degree, and certainly makes the case for a particular winner who stands taller than the other by conflict’s end.
– Superb direction. Adam Wingard feels born to direct this movie. Not only for the way he grips his audience in remaining invested to the ever-changing dynamic of these two iconic characters, but also in the art he crafts along the way in doing so. The scale alone makes this feel like the biggest war to ever be fought on film, complete with a collection of devastation and explosions that breed consequence not only in the dual titular characters, but also in the people trapped above and below their carnage. The cinematography feels experimental, illustrating urgency and danger in a series of challenging, complex angles high and low, far and near, that leave nothing to imagination in the iconography of fantastical imagery for bigger than life characters. In particular, it’s Wingard’s decision to document the fights with a mostly wide frame angle that allows us the audience the consistency in vantage point to interpret and detect everything along the way, accommodating and encompassing a worldwide impact for an audience watching from beyond who are continually immersed in the urgency that Adam illustrates.
– Riveting sound design. Adding to the magnitude in scale that I was previously commending, is a heft in audio mixing that vividly conveys the mass of these two titans of the silver screen, and their trysts throughout land and sea that changes the experience between them. When they begin in the waters between Skull Island and Tokyo, the persistent splashing and clanking of a script feels inches from our audible perception. Likewise, the rumble through the streets of downtown Tokyo offers a dizzying echo to the overwhelming emphasis of weight and impact that these titans elicit, and the crumbling registry of concrete and glass is most dominant in composing such a startling symphony that never relents on your audible capacities. It’s one of the rare occasions where I would beg my audience to spend a couple bucks more to see the film in a state of the art theater, if only for the intricate sound levels that claustrophobically mesmerize you in a carnage conceirto of epic proportions.
– Alluring aesthetic. After horrendously damp and darkening presentations in “Godzilla” and “King of Monsters”, that obscured a lot of the pivotal imagery that those films commanded, “Godzilla Vs Kong” feels like the most ambitious step forward for the way it never alienated my experience unnecessarily. There are fight sequences that do take place at night, but the production intoxicates us with a neon pulse for the city nightlight that luminates an almost 80’s subtlety without feeling heavily intentional. In addition, the daytime sequences shown through these gorgeous computer generated backdrops and sunsets are wondefully intoxicating on their own merits, offering an equally entrancing naturalism to the artificial geography that prescribes believability to this fantastical world. This not only grants us an illustrious style to the circumstance commanding the attention of the audience and characters alike, but it also has a distinct identity of its own that makes this pleasantly feel unlike anything in the previous three installments, adding a blanket of style to the endearing experience of originality that improves the experience once more.
– Detailed effects. Equally prescribing to the believability in scale and circumstance is a majority for computer generation that feels almost entirely satisfying, with the exception of a couple timing shots that lack consistency. The design of Kong is most appealing, illustrating a volume in fur and effect from environmental properties like water and wind that changes its depth before our eyes. Godzilla’s is just as satisfying, embodying an aged and decaying bodily composition that very much tells the story of the wars that he has fought throughout three films, complete with weathered scales and evidential scarring seen in every personal shot where we the audience are forced to look him in the eye. The movements of Godzilla and Kong are crisp and full of faithfulness to the weight of their immense capacities, and the textures of their artificial outlines between them and live action surroundings that obscures the line where reality starts and post-production ends.
– Fan service. While not something that I’m always fully behind in terms of creativity for a film’s screenplay, the appearance of such here is completely justified in terms of its homage to paying respects to a generation of monsters along the way. Without spoiling anything, I will say that there are more than a few familiar creatures who are summoned to the forefront of this particular narrative. One such is even my personal favorite, and even leads into building the general outline of a conflict that makes its presence felt by film’s end. Besides this, it’s the mythos behind a legacy of both monsters that takes us to foreign lands of the deepest and most isolated variety that is most indulgent, and somehow carves out a better shared universe in four combined films than the D.C.E.U still has yet to attain in seven. For a longtime Godzilla fan like I grew up being, I appreciated the attention paid to such a concept and its many satisfying Easter eggs along the way, even if it was just used as a storytelling sedative between the fight sequences that we all paid to see.
– Serviceable performances. A majority of the cast is unfortunately wasted in one-dimensional characterization that I will get to in a little bit, but there are two new satisfying additions to the abundance of characters in this shared universe that made the most of their opportunity. The first is Bryan Tyree Henry as a conspiracy theorist podcaster who is always searching for a deeper, darker motive. Henry instills a satisfying comic muscle to the narrative without it feeling forced or condemning to the tonal consistency of the movie’s urgency, and his character feels like one of the only essential necessities that sets the sequence of events in motion towards the movie’s plot. Henry is good, but nine-year-old first time actress Kaylee Hottle steals the show as this deaf child with a link of communication to Kong. Hottle embodies no shortage of range to a wordless delivery that in depth is decades ahead of her years, and with a dedication in chemistry to a sixty foot tall artificial counterpart, provides emotional layers for the film that equally fleshes out the King of Skull Island in ways that makes him an extension in humanity in a film that is thirsty for it.
– Smooth pacing. This is a film that knows exactly what it is. Because of such, it never complicates or overstays its welcome in ways that are detrimental towards the experience, and gives us a near two hour sit that where everything included feels pivotal and justified towards the integrity of the story. I do have my problems with the first in terms of its long-winded transparency towards exposition, but it comes with a swift urgency that immediately kickstarts the conflict of the film, wasting very little time in the face of picking up with our familiar characters where we last left off. From there, the film only gets better as it persists, specifically in the third act of the film, which is one of the better third acts in action films that I have seen in the last ten years. I say that because the sequencing during such a period is one big boom after another, and essentially flies by with a climax and resolution that never has a moment or instant to overstay its welcome. It’s very much a rollercoaster of thrills from start to finish, and one that I never felt even remotely bored or removed from.
– Flawed characterization. One weakness that even the fourth film in this quadrilogy still hasn’t learned from is a flat, unappealing characteristic for human characters that are quite literally interchangeable with any other characters in this franchise. Hell, one of the past familiar faces (Vera Farmiga’s Emma Russell) isn’t even in this film, despite the fact that her daughter and husband remain in physical trouble, but that’s another story for another day. The problem with these characters is the script spends no time fleshing them out in a way that makes them even remotely compelling to want to spend any time with. This could be argued as intentional, as these movies are always more about the monsters then the mankind, but the human characters are required to be here to push the conflict and storytelling forward, an aspect they attain without a cementing of why them specificially. Skarsgard and Brown are particularly wasted, feeling as bland as they are unessential to what is transpiring. Likewise, Kyle Chandler, who was one of the stars of “King of the Monsters” is now relegated to an appearance every forty minutes, despite his job title being ties that bind these monsters together. If the next Godzilla or Kong movie really want to pull me in, they flesh out human characters who are even half as appealing as their artificial counterparts. Without them, there will always be an evidential weakness in the stories they accommodate.
– Heavy-handed. In going back to the first act of the film once more, we endure scene after scene of exposition meant to color in the lines of this conflict. It’s a little testing to have these scenes happen one after another, but that’s not my problem with its impact. The problem stems from the obviousness and predictability that comes as an effect from such a long-winded dispersement, and one that had me accurately predicting every single element of the screenplay in the movie’s opening half hour (Not kidding). It’s one of those scripts where that is circumstantial, ideally where this can only be attained because of that, and so on. It stands as one of the biggest and aggravating cliches for me personally, because they wouldn’t bring these elements up if they wouldn’t eventually materialize somewhere in the film, so you’re left speculating when exactly they will connect with one another. For my money, I would’ve kept the general jist of everything needed, but maybe introduced them sporadically throughout the film. At least then, the events of the climax wouldn’t be detected throughout the long-term journey, further adding to the conventionalism that has plagued a majority of the films in this shared universe.
My Grade: 8/10 or B+