2021 was not the best time to go to the movies. Even if you lived in an area that didn’t have major lockdowns you were still scared of the new forms of the 2020 plague and it’s not like the movies have been worth seeing. The reviews I’ve seen for modern movies have ranged from Pet Character Syndrome and its various sociopolitical counterparts, more not-stalgias and namesakes, sequels so unnecessary the creators don’t want to do it, and people who just don’t care overall. Every now and then a good movie sneaks through but it has to be an original property made by someone who actually wants to tell a good story. That seems to be on the decline.
Godzilla Vs. Kong came out when theaters were practicing social distancing even if the state wasn’t in full lockdown, and wearing a mask makes enjoying your popcorn difficult. That’s on top of the rising prices of theaters and snacks and the problem of people who think they’re in the theater of the Satellite Of Love rather than the mall. Streaming is the dominant form of watching movies followed by regular television and maybe somewhere a physical DVD or Blu-Ray. This movie came in at a bad time, and I was still recovering from non-plague related illnesses so I didn’t make it to the theater either. Meanwhile the HBO Preview Weekend recording has been sitting on my DVR for months, so today I finally got to watch it.
RELEASE DATE: 2021
RELEASED BY: Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures
RUNTIME: 1 hour, 53 minutes
DIRECTOR: Adam Wingard
BOX OFFICE: $468,216,094 worldwide, $100,916,094 domestic according to Box Office Mojo
ESTIMATED BUDGET: $155-200 million according to Gojipedia
The Plot: Monarch has been keeping Kong in protective custody, worried that Godzilla wants to kill him because of an ancient feud between their kinds. Meanwhile, Apex Robotics brings in a former Monarch employee to help him find the Hollow Earth and an energy source that can be used to stop Godzilla, who coincidentally attacks one of their factories. Or maybe it isn’t a coincidence, as the girl from the second Legendary Godzilla movie joins forces with her friend and a conspiracy nut with his own podcast to uncover the truth. Then there’s Monarch who is…here.
Why Did I Want To See It: I take it you’re new here. Just do a search for King Kong or Godzilla in the search bar in my sidebar and you’ll see how big a kaiju fan I am.
What Did I Think?: Let’s go over the positives first because while there are actually not as much to talk about as there should be they did at least carry me to the end of the movie. The monster fights are really good. They still use rain and nighttime to hide the errors in the computer models but considering how little sunlight exists in modern Hollywood films what’s the difference? The fights between Kong, Godzilla, and Spoiler Monster (hint, it’s a new take on my favorite G-Foe and I’m kind of on the fence given the nature of designs in the Legendary Kaijuverse) are really cool to see. Of course I’d rather see Kong and Godzilla team up and the reason for their fighting seems forced at first (anyone else notice how much the power source resembles another Godzilla in that long, high shot?) but the fights deliver and I can accept them fighting each other more than I can Superman and Batman. The battles do deliver.
The story ideas are also interesting. Hollow Earth is nonsense science but if we were being realistic none of these monsters could biologically exist so why not have fun with it? We learn a bit more about where the Titans (the name for the kaiju in this continuity) come from. Spoiler Monster is clearly born from Apex’s owner (yeah, on the nose with that company name) having a huge ego but at least someone isn’t looking down on humanity as being “pets” of the monsters like the first Godzilla movie. Pity he’s the villain because I shouldn’t agree with the villain even after he reveals his big ego. However, we soon get to the problem with this movie.
Did you notice I didn’t name a single character in this movie? That’s because I don’t really care. Now I’ve been a Godzilla fan since my age was in single digits and I’ve always been interested in the human antics that lead to the awesome monster battles. Even as a kid I realized the monsters need a reason to fight, and that’s where the humans came in. However, they were also interesting. Here we have two different stories bashed together with way too many characters. There’s no real time with any of them, no real development, and previous movie girl’s overweight friend is so useless to the plot, themes, and events of the story I don’t know why he was there. I didn’t even catch his name was Josh until the last few minutes and he only seemed to exist to not be liked. What little he contributes could have been handled by Bernie the conspiracy guy and by previous movie girl. Every time it looks like he’ll have chance to stand up and contribute to…anything the movie goes out of its way to ensure he doesn’t. The girl from Godzilla: Kind Of Monsters is only there to be one of the competent characters because the only competent men is the villain and that doesn’t last long because he’s the villain in a science fiction movie. Her dad is basically just here to be in charge of Monarch and contribute nothing while her mom is nowhere to be seen.
The only interesting characters are the little girl from the trailer, the lady scientist who takes care of her and Kong, and the hollow Earth guy who of course is smart but a goofball. I wanted him to show later that he actually did know sign language and was just letting the girls have some fun so we could respect him a bit more, even when he does something important to help Kong in the final three-way battle. At least he contributes something positive, which is more than I can say for anyone not him, the caretaker, or the girl. Everyone else is generic and useless. One of the villains is the main villain’s daughter…that goes nowhere. The flunky controls Spoiler Monster…that contribution is lost immediately. Conspiracy guy and previous movie girl (man, I sound like I’m writing a Critical Drinker script) contribute stuff sort of but their subplot isn’t nearly as interesting as following Kong into Hollow Earth and the only remotely interesting characters in the movie.
Compare it to…pretty much every Godzilla movie Toho puts out. You have a handful of characters all contributing to the same plot. Time is given to flesh them out even if they’re making their one lone appearance (and outside of Miki most of them are one-shot appearances) in the series, their actions matter to the plot and why Godzilla, Kong, or whatever other feature monsters are doing what they’re doing, and I actually get to like them. None of that can be said for the human cast here and I didn’t care about them. Thankfully we get the good monster fights and we actually get to see them fight.
Was It Worth The Wait: I mean, I enjoyed the movie for the most part so I guess. It’s just not as strong as I’d like it to be. It feels like a step down from the previous movies, at best tying with the first Legendary Godzilla film when it comes to the human characters but at least with better fights. Still, I kind of see why more kaiju movies haven’t been announced in this series (or if they have I haven’t heard about it). It’s like what some G-Fans say about humans in kaiju movies are like versus how they actually are. Only one of the subplots contributes and there are some good ideas and great fights. I just wish the humans were better. Overall it’s the Avengers: Endgame of Legendary’s kaijuverse, okay to watch once but sadly not one I’d really want to watch as often as other Godzilla or Kong movies. Frankly you’re better off watching the first time King Kong and Godzilla fought.