The path to the epic showdown between Godzilla and Kong in this MonsterVerse has not exactly been the smoothest road. All three movies leading up to this point have dealt with issues within the asphalt of said road. Godzilla didn’t show enough of everyone’s favorite lizard, Kong: Skull Island was not seen in the same light as Peter Jackson’s take on the giant ape (though I beg to differ), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters showed too much fighting in the dark, making it difficult to see exactly what was happening. Let’s also not forget that all three of these movies to varying degrees had human character problems due to script issues. And coming into Godzilla vs. Kong, I had some reservations considering how disappointed I was with King of the Monsters and how this film was being directed by someone who has made two of the worst movies I’ve seen in the past five years (one of which you can read about here). However, despite all this, Godzilla vs. Kong shows us what we’ve all been waiting for leading up to this film. While the human character issues remain a problem, when the two titans collide, it’s shown in such grand fashion that it causes pure excitement, and that alone is worth the price of admission rather than merely watching it from the comfort of your home.
To get to these monumental fights throughout its 105-minute runtime, there is more build up than expected in Godzilla vs. Kong. And this time around, the franchise is ditching the serious tones and embracing its silliness. However, it comes at a price as certain characters either deliver bad lines or feel completely unnecessary other than for the purpose of, “human character does something to initiate Godzilla or Kong into action” to move the story forward. I mean, I get it. You must fill the film with exposition and not spend every dollar on visual effects, but we all know what we’re waiting for here. But at least this stuff is not as dull or confounding as what audiences saw in King of the Monsters. And for whatever reason, Hollywood is still trying to make Alexander Skarsgård a star. I don’t get that at all, but at least Kaylee Hottle as the little girl that bonds with Kong is a bright spot on the human side of things.
All of this sounds pretty negative on paper. And to a certain extent, it is given how this universe has been around for a little bit, so it should not be so difficult to try and flesh things out. And while the movie has these cons, the pros outweigh them by monster-sized stretches thanks to the two big boys. Finally, a director gets Godzilla on screen in this MonstersVerse. While I certainly love Godzilla for what it was in 2014–teasing the giant lizard until the grand finale–Godzilla vs. Kong shows him in full view and in light that allows you to actually see him fight at all times. This turns into a win-win rather than being a one-sided thing as he was shown in his two previous movies. On the other side, Kong is the heart of this movie, and you can see why he gets more screen time than Godzilla (who also has one more movie). And as someone who really enjoyed Kong: Skull Island back in 2017, I’ve been curious to see how Kong would fare against a foe that is bigger on paper and director Adam Wingard does the ape right by leveling the playing field.
And speaking of the playing fields, they are pure spectacles and delightful every moment you are watching them. From the water to a neo-lit city at night, Godzilla vs. Kong gives you what you pay for in these fights. Creative and pulling no punches, the complete scope never goes out of sight and keeps your eyes wide open while you grin from ear to ear, wondering the whole time who will emerge victorious. All of this is thanks to the impressive visual effects of both titans, which are spot-on and accompanied with a score by Junkie XL that makes each encounter feel epic.
Anytime either of these two monsters are on screen, it’s a win for viewers. And while you will have the opportunity to see this on HBO Max, I highly recommend you catch this in theaters to get the full effect. As COVID-19 numbers continue to decline across the US, this is the perfect opportunity to return to theaters to see these two champions duke it out on the big screen. Putting these two monsters on the scale of IMAX screens is why we go to the movies (and why formats like IMAX exist). So, pay for a ticket, hear them roar, and find out who will fall while you watch with excitement from your seat.