REEL Review – Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Director: Adam Wingard | 1h 53mins | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Titans, Godzilla and King Kong, struggle to exist in the same world when Kong is used as a navigator to their home, ‘Hollow Earth’. Meanwhile, tech company Apex is preparing for a defence of their own against the mighty creatures.

In the many cinematic incarnations of both King Kong and Godzilla, the anticipation of seeing the two come head-to-head has never been matched. They did it in the 1960’s – by which point both characters had become B-Movie royalty – and now look to reach a mainstream audience in the newest titan-epic directed by Adam Wingard. Although fans will surely salivate at the concept of the two pop-culture behemoths battling it out (something that film delivers), Godzilla vs. Kong is let down considerably by the human elements surrounding the beasts. 

The movie feels more like Kong’s journey more so than Godzillas, as the film starts Kong is leaping from rock to rock surveilling the land in which he’s King. He pulls a tree from its roots and turns into a javelin and launches it towards the sky – revealing the dome in which he’s being held captive. It’s a strong opener, one that introduces Kong as well as the humans that are connected to his side of the story. Meanwhile, Godzilla reigns terror on the facilities of a tech company called Apex. 

The strongest part of the film, aside from watching two monsters duel it out in both the ocean and a neon-lit Hong Kong, is how it brings the titan’s down to a human level. Both Kong and Godzilla are more than dozy creatures throwing their weight around, they are given real emotion and the visual effects create genuine reaction in their faces, something that’s nice to see considering the monumental budget (Kong sitting on his throne in a lonely kingdom is a considerably powerful image). But, as a positive it’s a dwindling one, as the emotional connection between humans and beasts has always been what makes Kong and Godzilla the biggest anti-heroes in cinematic history. 

It’s a nice way to pander to fans of the older, much camper, B-Movie roots of both characters – but it’s just a shame the film can never find the tongue and cheek that once existed in the Titan universe. 

The film does well with it’s creatures but for the majority of the film we have to slog through an incredible amount of bland human interaction. Without the human connection audiences would probably be disillusioned by it’s lack of clarity and the people in this film act as a platform to tell us much needed information, but it’s in their character work that the film suffers astronomically. We weave between an all-star cast as they awkwardly react and trundle through cringey dialogue. Whether it be on Kong’s side with Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard forcing a potential romance, or Millie Bobby Brown teaming with a titan-conspiracy theorist to somehow break into a powerful weapons facility – they are all abysmally dull transitions as the film looks to reach the action.  

After visiting Kong’s home in ‘Hollow Earth’ everyone congregates in Hong Kong for a very epic final battle. Because these two characters have so much history as a crossover franchise, fans will surely be pleased to see the emergence of a famous foe in the final act, one that’s introduced to us with the line “That’s RoboGodzilla”, “no, it’s MechaGodzilla”. It’s a nice way to pander to fans of the older, much camper, B-Movie roots of both characters – but it’s just a shame the film can never find the tongue ‘n’ cheek that once existed in the Titan universe. 

Godzilla vs. Kong is another underwhelming addition to a franchise that still can’t seem to find a voice. It’s style is erratic, and while the action really is good the film can’t find an inkling of personality in it’s human characters which really slows the film down and creates a narrative that barely exists outside of two fight scenes. You may enjoy the film in passing, but Wingard’s addition to the Titan Universe should be considered a gigantic disappointment. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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