Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) premiered last week in theaters and on HBO Max. And as one of those big Hollywood blockbuster action films, it has been circulating quite a bit around the internet. If you somehow haven’t watched it yet, here’s a spoiler free review of Godzilla vs. Kong.
One thing I’ve noticed across this giant monster series, which includes the likes of Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), is that they’ve gradually adapted to what the audience is looking for. People just want to see the big, CGI monster fights, and could really care less about the human characters involved in the story. I Godzilla vs. Kong, the movie is clearly self-aware of this fact, and does its best to minimize the people we see on screen. It’s to the point where it seems to me like the plot of the movie is completely in service of the action scenes. It seems like this should’ve been a half-hour long clip of Kong and Godzilla going at it, but in order to release it as a feature-length film, the creators just had to add an extra hour and a half of nonsense. So we got a bare-bones plot and bare-bones characters just to get an excuse to put Kong and Godzilla in the same room.
So, yeah, given how many human moments are quickly glossed over, it doesn’t take an expert to know that the CGI budget had to be massive for this film. Every other aspect–the dialogue and the actors–didn’t even try to pretend you really cared. They ran every actor’s line through a Marvel dialogue machine, and the resultant script is quite cringeworthy. This movie has quite an expensive cast, but their lines made them look like student film actors. But, like I said, nobody really cares about them, so it wasn’t a problem.
Now onto what matters: the action. This movie certainly delivers on that end. Part of the reason I know the plot is an excuse for the action is because these action scenes seem almost impossibly good. At many points there’s probably not a single real life element in the frame, and the movie is basically an animation. Even so, the CGI is so crisp that you’ll barely notice. Even more impressive is how long these takes were. The camera didn’t cut very often, and there were some very cool moving shots with our beloved monsters on screen the whole time. Any VFX artist could tell you that that takes an impossible amount of computing power and time. I liked one particular sequence that explored Kong’s home world that I thought was very cool and creative. My only stipulation with these sequences is that I wish they could use some of the cinematography used in Godzilla (2014), which often showed the monsters from a person’s perspective on the ground or juxtaposed the monsters with normal-size objects so we can truly appreciate just how massive these monsters are supposed to be. The monsters were also a lot slower in their movements, making their punches feel that much more impactful. In Godzilla vs. Kong, we get a few moments like these, but for the most part, it’s like the spectators have been scaled to the size of these titans as well.
So, what’s the verdict? If you truly want to critique this as a film, it will fail miserably. If you’re looking for mindless action to entertain yourself for two hours, this movie delivers spectacularly. And this is what most people will say on the internet. It doesn’t seem to have offended anyone, because it’s not trying to be anything more than what we expected.