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Godzilla vs Kong

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2021

‘Padded or not, Godzilla vs Kong has got the “Wow!” factor that hasn’t been around since Peter Jackson’s reboot….’

Hopefully the climactic instalment of the Monsterverse hastily cobbled together by Warners in the gap created by a lack of any Harry Potter-style tentpole franchises, Adam Wingard’s has been hailed as an industry saviour for pulling in roughly a quarter of what it might have been expected to generate at the US box-office. In a pandemic, that’s a lot more than other films have made, although the morality of inviting audiences out in the current circumstances is up for debate; at least Warners give you the choice. What is clear, however, is that in today’s blockbuster-free climate, Godzilla vs Kong is something of a breath of fresh air, and easily the best of the Monsterverse films.

That’s not to say that Godzilla vs Kong is a good film; it’s something of a frustrating mess, but it manages a few tricks that makes it watchable where the predecessors tried and failed. Wingard opens with a bold trope; Kong chilling on his backside, scratching himself and listening to Bobby Vinton’s Over the Mountain, Across the Sea. A large part of a monster movie is the beating drums and tribal dances of anticipation; a cold open like this is a big gamble. Kong has a moment of communion with a native child before tossing a sharpened caber at his bio-dome, revealing his captivity. Kong gets shipped to Antarctica to help humankind explore the entrance of Hollow Earth, an anti-gravitational netherworld that seems to also be his home. Meanwhile Godzilla has been inexplicably on the radge for a bit, appearing to be evil and killing people who work for the sinister Apex corporation, and he turns up to block Kong on his way to his scratcher, leading to a big smackdown rammy on an aircraft carrier. Shrugging this off, Kong leads a human expedition to Hollow Earth that follows the usual At The Earths Core/ The Land the Time Forgot paradigm, finds a big axe in a loot box, then fights guest artist Mechagodzilla in some neon-city (Hong Kong?) before Godzilla turns up to make it a three-way punch-up. There’s also a whole side-mission with Millie Bobby Brown doing a Stranger-Things–lite conspiracy-theory adventure that leads to some kind of revelations, but that doesn’t connect up to the main bill-of-fare until the end.

So, the usual rubbish then, but not quite. Wingard makes Kong the protagonist here, and that just about works; the human stories all grate in the most tiresome way imaginable. But instead of the fog, gloom and darkness that ruined the last two Godzilla movies, everything looks clear and easy to understand here, a first for the franchise. The fights, and there are several, look great; this works better than any Transformers or Pacific Rim movie, as well as outclassing the other Monsterverse entries. Padded or not, Godzilla vs Kong has got the “Wow!” factor that hasn’t been around since Peter Jackson’s reboot.

Godzilla vs Kong is the kind of big blockbuster which may well become an endangered species in a post pandemic world; it’s going to be hard to justify this kind of outlay when a blockbuster like this doesn’t find a quarter of a million viewers in a UK still under lockdown. So for now, let’s enjoy the extravagance, and the excess; with some well chosen songs (Elvis! Judas Priest! The Hollies!) , Godzilla vs Kong at least offers an ass-kicking good time, something that’s a first in the dreary Monsterverse sequence so far.

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  1. Skull Island remains by far my favorite of the Monsterverse movies, in part because it has the most interesting humans by a wide margin.

    I did really enjoy the take on Hollow Earth in Godzilla v. Kong, and with this movie and the Snyder Cut and everything else, I am feeling pretty good about the money I am shelling out for HBO Max.

  2. My favorite movie of the year so far! I never care about the humans. I personally thought the human plot was much more tolerable than other installments. All I want is a giant gorilla punching a giant atomic lizard and they delivered. My entire theater erupted in applause on multiple occasions. It’s a turn off your brain and you’ll enjoy it kind of movie.

    • I get that, and sure, who wants human drama in a movie like this?
      At least the action scenes blew away the cobwebs, and made a satisfied castomer of me.

  3. It’s funny, I was just saying the other day, “I want to go to a movie theater so bad I would even see Godzilla vs. Kong.” Alas, for me, not vaccinated yet. But if I am in time, I will see this. But if I miss it on the big screen, I will likely miss it forever.

    • I would have to say, this movie bottles the modern blockbuster for home consumption. Startling visuals, vanilla plot and characters. Turning the lights off and putting your phone away gives you the big screen experience. It’s fun, but not worth risking anyone’s life for. Stay safe!

    • It’s quite an achievement to spend over a billion dollars, engage dozens of the world’s best loved actors, and not come up with a single character or scene worth remembering, but somehow they managed it. Still, monsters!

  4. while I am glad to hear that it’s not all foggy or dark, I still don’t see the point of the “monsterverse”. How does it all tie together?

    If it ever shows up on Prime for free I’ll give it a looksee. But that’s probably about the only way. So no money from me.

    • Circling back to this comment; you are the first person in my circle to admit to liking this film. There’s one amazing shot of Godzilla jumping in the Hudson that I ike, but that’s about it. What’s the secret of liking this?

        • I’ll be first in the queue to see that! I think there are issues of scale; I can’t see how Godzilla can talk through the Pan-Am building like it’s a screen-door, yet hide on the NYC subway; how does it get through the turnstyles? Looking forward to hearing your response!

  5. Was wondering when you’d get around to this . . .
    I’ll definitely be watching it when it comes out on DVD. And arrives at the library. So I guess they won’t be making any money off of me. It’s interesting to wonder if the pandemic’s cinema shutdowns may mean a turn away from the CGI extravaganzas and a turn toward more domestic fare. Doesn’t seem like anywhere you can still go after something like this.

    • Wonder no more. This does feel like a dead end, and yet it’s the best film of the franchise, and better than all the Pacific Rim/Transformers stuff to boot. Better late than never, but these low streaming figures suggest that they’re not getting much market penetration with ‘watch at home’, even during a pandemic…

      • Movies may be stuck in the same boat as a lot of other media forms: how to make money off of online content. Aside from the platforms it seems nobody has really figured that one out.

        • There’s zero cinemas open in the UK, so 225,000 iots is less that £4 million, about a quarter of what the opening weekend would be expected to see. OK, there’s reduced expenses, but hopefully this kind of captive audience won’t be a regular thing…

          • Kind of hard to have these giant tent-pole movies when there’s no tent anymore. I still don’t think audiences are ever going back to their pre-pandemic levels. Maybe they’ll start running franchises more as serials. Seems to be a direction they want to go in anyway with Marvel and Star Wars.

            • Serials seem to be working; you can’t have a tent pole without a tent, that’s good, will steal that one…

  6. Oh my God. It’s finally here. I know Alex is going to be a happy boy. Why do they bother with the humans? No one cares. Just stick with the big fights and special effects.

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