Godzilla vs. Kong
Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein
Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir
A critic must recognize that, every once in a while, there will be a film they cannot review objectively. Perhaps the film touches a political topic too close to home for them, or it may bring a memory too sensitive or personal to allow one’s opinion to be uncolored. Therefore, I should begin by telling you why I cannot review Godzilla vs. Kong objectively: because it is the exact film I wanted when I was a child.
As I watched Godzilla vs. Kong, I felt tingles of nostalgia all over my body, and I was back. Back when I was 8 and would watch grainy VHS tapes rented from Blockbuster to witness Godzilla do battle with opponents like the Smog Monster or King Ghidorah. Back to when I was 13 and was transported to Skull Island in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Back to an era when I discovered my love of film. An objective review will be all but impossible, but I will try my best all the same.
I can start by telling you that this is a film that takes the viewer’s love of Kong and Godzilla for granted. The film’s delightful opening sequence at Kong’s home is one of the best examples of this. In it, we see how a 3,000 ton ape goes about his normal daily routine. How he bathes, eats, and interacts with his sole companion, a deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who communicates with him through sign language. If that description doesn’t compel you, then this film is not for you. As for me, I couldn’t have been more enthused with the film’s first ten minutes, and this was before the other title character even showed up!
Godzilla is the film’s heel, but he is still a sympathetic figure like his early Toho installments. The film treats him as one would a force of nature. You could hate him for his destruction of a research base early on, killing eight people, but it would be a fool’s errand. It would be like hating a hurricane or tornado for the destruction they wreak. In this world, humans are but tiny dolls compared to the Titans.
Admittedly, some of the humans in Godzilla vs. Kong are about as compelling as plastic dolls. While their presence is stronger and more compelling here than it was in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (with standouts including Demian Bichir as a scenery-chewing corporate executive and Bryan Tyree Henry as a haunted conspiracy theorist), they are still the film’s weakest element. They are here to provide the duties of exposition and plot progression.
As for the film’s real stars, however, one couldn’t ask for anything better. Godzilla and Kong are massive presences, and their personalities bristle through every time they’re on screen. Whenever they roar, bristle for combat, or move, the weight of these massive figures couldn’t be felt any more strongly. And this is before they start hitting each other. Glorious monster-on-monster violence is what this film promises, and with every punch, every breath of fire, and every claw scrape, it more than delivers.
Godzilla vs. Kong is an imperfect film. But it is the exact film I wanted as a child. And for two hours, I was able to be that child again.