I’m starting to realize why some films are so hard to review and why they take the wind out of my sails as I try to write. Turns out, they don’t have much to talk about. They don’t have any content or function beyond entertainment, and then the question of the review becomes, ‘was this movie entertaining?’.
I could delve into expectations of entertainment given the marketing or trailers, I could talk about the standards of kaiju films given the 30+ Godzilla movies that preceded this one, or I could analyze the work done to characterize inhuman monsters so that we could relate to them and care about them.
In reality, this movie is a junker that would’ve been really difficult to make, given the producers’ expectations, studio standards, blah blah blah. Giving these kaijus some sort of characterisation or personification is a difficult task, and in the past what they’ve done is bond them to a human character. In the King of the Monsters sequel, they had Millie Bobby Brown be the human who connects to Godzilla in some form, after they fail to have Aaron Taylor Johnson’s omnipotent military dude fail to leave a lasting impression. They reattempt the success with Jia, who can communicate with Kong via sign language.
It’s a neat trick, and I appreciate how the girl’s disability is never treated as such, nor is it even brought up. It’s refreshing to just have differently abled folks be characters with different things to offer, and provide a fresh storytelling perspective. It’s leverage well, especially considering the giant monkey shouldn’t speak, and they still need a way to make Kong more relatable. It’s not overly clever, but it is efficient, and more believable than something stupid like a telepathic link, even in a fantasy film. I mean, it’s a giant monster film, not a superpower film or an alien film. These rules matter to people who suspend their disbelief.
Kaiju films are also very rarely adventure films. Kong: Skull Island is an adventure film, and it does a fantastic job, especially considering its precursor was actually a pretty good movie, all things considered. This movie, on the other hand, is not an adventure film, and that’s the big flaw in this film. Though it’s visually appealing and one of the only ways a movie like this works for western audiences, I have qualms with the whole, ‘there’s a whole world under our feet!’ tidbit. It leads to plot holes, like, godzilla shooting his breath through the ground all the way to king kong land, but the real issue is that it pulls us out of the whole, ‘big monster go bam bam bam’ shit. I get that this is a setup for more films, or some sort of world building, and for that reason, I can forgive the odd dream sequence.
The writing in the film is atrocious. Like, video game level garbage banter and reactions. Stupid one liners, and really predictable dialogue. The characters are also annoying and cliches and a dozen negative things. Most of the humans are completely useless, and beyond the first three characters, everyone is a cartoon and everyone is useless.
The action is good, and it’s always fun watching a monkey shove a bone handle into an irradiated lizard’s gullet. 6/10. Good monster flick, but I dislike how they ripped off the big fight from Pacific Rim. In retrospect, that’s the only good fight between both Pacific Rim movies, so the allusion is especially insulting. Essentially, they’re saying, ‘nyah nyah, our kaijus are better than yours!’
Godzilla vs Kong is available to watch exclusively on HBOMax or in theaters.