There can be only one alpha. The question is, is that alpha all-natural or man-made? It has been some years since Godzilla fought and defeated Ghidorah, The King of the Monsters has taken residence back in the ocean…only to emerge and attack unprovoked. What gives? He senses his ancient rival near in King Kong, who remains in Skull Island, albeit a heavily modified Skull Island. Scientists such as Dr. Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and sign language translator Jia (Kaylee Hottle) believe they are not only saving Kong from himself but preventing humanity’s end at the hands of a titanic feud. In Skull Island, Gojira cannot find Kong.
As humanity is wont to do, sometimes we meddle well beyond what is necessary. The mega-conglomerate CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) of Apex Cybernetics is hyper-focused on finding a power source in a legendary location of Hollow Earth to tip the scales to humanity—and to serve his ulterior motive. He is using Kong to lead them there, alongside Andrews and Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård). Enter carnage, mass destruction…and an effort to reveal a conspiracy going on at Apex led by technician Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry).
What are the time stamps in Godzilla vs. Kong? About 40:00 and 1:23:00. No need to explain specifically why, the title of the movie does so. So, the real question is, are two, maybe three spectacular scenes enough to make a movie? Depends on the viewer like in all things, but in this case, it is hard to say definitively “Yes” for this one.
Two breakouts exist in this film. One is Adam Wingard, a director who has had some good industry success and even cult appreciation with You’re Next, The Guest, and Blair Witch. Of course, none of those possess the scale present in GvK. The most surprising thing about Wingard’s accomplishment here is how when watching the money scenes, there is no evidence that this is seemingly his first time in handling something this big. Rarely is the action obscured, cut 100 different ways, or cloaked in dimly lit/non-descript environments. Alongside cinematographer Ben Seresin and the entire visual effects department, the obvious moments worth the proverbial price of admission (or HBO Max subscription) are going to impress all viewers. A square off in Hong Kong was made for the big screen. Junkie XL is the natural choice at composer to call when a feature needs a bombastic score to match its on-screen action, and he fits like a glove here.
Let me be person number 1,573 to state that none of us come to watch a movie such as this one for plot. That is mostly true, and GvK’s writing team paint in broad strokes, not getting bogged down with the specifics while making sure a bare minimum threshold is met for why A to B, B to C, etc. Still, there feels a bit of a missed opportunity to strengthen storytelling, particularly with the Apex Cybernetics piece (that CEO has a point about entrusting humanity’s fate in questionable hands, he just may be going about it the wrong way). With the MonsterVerse convergence, Godzilla vs. Kong is rightfully far removed from the 1970’s setting present in Skull Island, but there’s no way it should feel this removed from King of the Monsters; it is as if humanity went from 2019 to taking place in the same universe of Blade Runner 2049 and Ready Player One overnight despite taking place in present day. Tone oscillates too, and a simple solution would have probably been to remove the security infiltration facility side plot, which asks Henry, Julian Morrison, and Millie Bobby Brown to navigate in Scooby-Doo fashion and be comic relief. Ruh-roh!
Since the reboots of these monster movies beginning with Godzilla 2014, the characters have been derided for being uninteresting and white meat. I would argue that save for King of the Monsters, they haven’t been that bad. Three-dimensional, certainly not, but enough to be entertaining future fodder? Absolutely—Skull Island especially had the strength of Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly chewing scenery with mildly interesting backstories for both. Minus Hottle—the other breakout coming from this feature who brings a legitimate level of emotion in an affectionate relationship with Kong—there are way too many talented people standing around in GvK to only deliver plot revelations, or show up for a scene or two and be gone.
The rewatchability of a film or lack thereof should not totally impact one’s endgame thoughts on it. But when you’re talking about something as big as Godzilla vs. Kong, you’d like to return to it, until it is remembered that nearly everything else is sort of arduous to sit through. This is what fast forward was made for, or better yet, YouTube.