Film review: ‘GODZILLA VS KONG’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

For an old school monster fan, the prospect of a resurrected Kong and Godzilla franchise seemed like a dream come true. Unfortunately, from the goofy but energetic Kong: Skull Island to the mind-numbing Godzilla: King of Monsters, which saw CGI overload and nonsensical plotting worthy of a Transformers movie, the franchise has proven at best erratic.  Despite attempts to construct a loopy monster mythology with Kong etc as titans originating from the centre of the earth and various conspiracy theories about corporations trying to research, exploit or exterminate the creatures, these films have for the most part boiled down to extremely loud, confusing, lumbering monster fights that made the audience feel as if they were being pummeled by Kong.  The latest instalment, Godzilla vs Kong is largely more of the same but it embraces the silliness of the scenario with a little extra zeal making it probably the most enjoyable/ tolerable chapter in the saga so far.

Here, the eco-science company Monarch has contained Kong in a giant bio-dome on Skull Island where he engages with (believe it or not) a Kong whisperer, Ilene (Rebecca Hall) and her little adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who seems to have near-psychic connection with Kong.  In a mostly confusing plot device, corporate meanie monster-hater and head of the sinister APEX company, Walter Simmons (Demian Birchir) convinces Ilene to transport Kong to Antarctica where they’ve uncovered an entrance to the Titan home world. Kong’s adventure, however, attracts the attention of a mysteriously angry Godzilla.  A Kong-Godzilla smack down is inevitable but thanks to Simmons, there is also a new enemy who might threaten them both.

Like the other films in this so-called ‘monsterverse’ series, plenty of screen time is consumed by giant CGI creatures bashing each other often with moves comically reminiscent of an mma or even WWE bout; Kong at one point throws a textbook Muay Thai knee strike.  The special effects are variable in quality, sometimes intricately detailed, at other times surprisingly clunky and cartoonish – the Jurassic Park dinosaurs from 28 years ago still seem more realistic.  The monster battles are a little more enjoyable than normal, though, as the editing isn’t quite as frenzied and confusing as in King of Monsters and the fights are better choreographed.

This film also includes some inventively silly sci fi elements like the treacherous Journey to The Centre of The Earth homage as Kong frolics about and chomps on the occasional beasty in the titan home world.

Unfortunately, though, like the Transformers movies, this film tries to work in some comedy relief as Madison (Milly Bobby Brown) the daughter off Monarch scientist (Kyle Chandler) her goofy buddy Josh (sandwich shop rapper and star of Hunt for the Wilder People, Julian Denison) and a slightly crazed podcaster and conspiracy theorist Bernie (Bryan Tyree Henry) investigate what Apex is up to, often with surprisingly little scrutiny from the supposedly top-secret organisation.  Their fumbling attempts at espionage aren’t particularly funny or relevant to the story and they seem to be there just to appeal to a younger demographic.

Director Adam Wingard has honed the familiar elements of the series into something a little more exciting this time but the slightly better than average Godzilla vs Kong will not win over viewers who recoil from ear-pounding, video game-like monster movies.

Nick’s rating: **1/2

Genre: Action/ sci-fi/ monster

Classification: M.

Director(s): Adam Wingard.

Release date: 25th Mar 2021.

Running time: 113 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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