Right out of the gate, I want to make it clear: I love kaiju movies. My mother introduced me to Godzilla when I was 6 or 7 years old when we sat down to watch Godzilla 1985. My love for the genre and Godzilla in particular increased as the home video market boomed. With access to the classic Toho movies, my brother and I were able to indulge in the often campy but ultimately enjoyable monster movies. The Monsterverse films, produced by Legendary Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., have been overall enjoyable, culminating in the last (?) release, Godzilla vs. Kong.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the film yet.
I could do a blow-by-blow review of the movie’s plot but to be honest, I wasn’t watching this for the plot or the story (although there are fun moments throughout). Of the human actors that are part of the cast, Millie Bobby Brown (reprising her role as Madison Russell), Brian Tyree Henry (as Bernie Hayes), Julian Dennison (as Josh Valentine), Rebecca Hall (as Dr. Illene Andrews), and Kaylee Hottle (as Jia) are the standouts. Millie Bobby Brown and Rebecca Hall in particular are given more weightier roles here and carry most of the emotional heft of the scenes. Brown has really started coming into her own as an actress, particularly in projects outside of Stranger Things. Rebecca Hall brings depth to what would have been a fairly two-dimensional character, particularly during her scenes with Kaylee Hottle’s Jia, the lone survivor of the tribe first seen in Kong: Skull Island.
Having said all that, there are actors that I think were largely wasted or not given much to work with. Demián Bichir as the found of Apex Cybernetics is hammy in a wonderful way but it’s a one-note, corrupt CEO character that we’ve seen a thousand times before. Shun Oguri, who is more well-known for his voice-acting work for anime, wasn’t given much to do over the course of the film, despite playing Ren Serizawa (the son of Ken Watanabe’s Ishirō Serizawa, who was an integral part of the last two Godzilla movies). Alexander Skarsgård could read a phone book and make it interesting but his turn as Dr. Nathan Lind left me wondering why his character was needed. And how is it that someone like Lance Reddick (Charon in the John Wick films) only gets two brief scenes and a couple of lines?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the monsters.
The CGI work for both Godzilla and Kong are phenomenal. Each monster feels like a living, breathing character and moves as such. There are moments of personality that come through each of the characters, particularly Kong, who is given more personality here than in Kong: Skull Island. Godzilla appears more menacing, hostile, and aggressive, which fits given the story beats that are explored. The introduction of Mecha-Godzilla (which becomes a vehicle for the consciousness of one of King Ghidorah’s heads) was hinted at in the trailers and absolutely delivered during the final battle.
The fights between the monsters are staged well, with plenty of destruction and carnage to satisfy fans of the genre. The Hong Kong fight in particular, which takes up roughly the last twenty minutes of the film, is brutal and visceral, which is exactly what I was hoping for when this film was announced. The producers of the film promised there would be a decisive winner and there was one. The sequences in the Hollow Earth were breathtaking, if a little trippy due to the perspective shift of the horizon. It’s complete nonsense but it was sure is pretty to look at.
If you’re a fan of the Monsterverse films or kaiju movies in general, you’ll definitely enjoy this film. If you’re not a fan of the genre, you’re probably not going to get anything out of this.