After stealing the show as solo acts in recent films, it was only a matter of time before the two heavyweight behemoths settled it once and for all in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
Released in theaters and on HBO Max, the film takes place 50 years after the events in “Kong: Skull Island,” and just a few years after “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
The nuclear-radiated sea monster, Godzilla, has been laying low for a few years, but has made a sudden reappearance at Apex Cybernetics (a global tech company in Florida), destroying everything in his path. A returning and worried Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) frantically searches for solutions to prevent the monster from causing any further harm. Meanwhile, his daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), isn’t buying it and is convinced someone at Apex is triggering this attack.
Since Madison’s father won’t take her claims seriously, she decides to team up with the ultimate conspiracy theorist and germaphobe in Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) to shed some light on what’s really going on at Apex.
On the Kong side of things, the oversized gorilla is living peacefully on Skull Island. While he’s lonely being the only one of his kind, he develops a special bond with Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a deaf and mute child who can communicate with Kong via sign language.
We’re then introduced to, you guessed it, more scientists. Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is an anthropologist and in charge of looking after Kong. She’s also the legal guardian of Jia. Overprotective of Kong and Jia and wanting both of their best interests, she reluctantly agrees with Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), who made a deal with Apex, to transport Kong out of Skull Island and face Godzilla: to take the sea monster out for good.
Whether you’re a scientist with multiple degrees, or a strong-willed child trying to investigate Apex, everyone has their work cut out for themselves as the two biggest, ferocious monsters on the planet battle it out in a super fight for the ages.
Like any monster film, the central spotlight shines brightest when Kong and Godzilla are towering before us on the screen, which fortunately is about 60% of the film’s duration. This isn’t to say the cast isn’t talented, but anyone who buys a ticket or fires up HBO Max is here to see fire, destruction and roaring fun.
That’s why it’s difficult to be too overly critical of a plot and script that is simplistic at best. If anyone is expecting to be challenged intellectually, this isn’t the movie for them. “Godzilla vs. Kong” not only has the self-awareness to recognize that, it more than makes up for its basic plot and cheesy one-liners with heavyweight action you haven’t seen since Ali vs. Frazier.
That also isn’t to say the film doesn’t have some heart buried in all that action. Godzilla surely isn’t the most sympathetic of creatures, but Kong’s relationship with Kia is a touching tribute you wouldn’t expect in a film like this. For all the chest-pounding and monster swinging, it’s refreshing to see the gentler side of the colossal ape.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is precisely the movie you expect it to be. It’s big, loud and it’s a darn good time. If this is the start of the summer blockbusters, we’re off to a roaring start.