It’s the monster movie showdown of the ages! (Or at least of this decade.) “Godzilla vs. Kong” is exciting, entertaining escapism and the best installment in WB’s “Monsterverse” to date.
If you haven’t seen 2014’s solid “Godzilla”, 2017’s so-so “Kong: Skull Island” or 2019’s dull and disappointing “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” don’t sweat it. Some backstory info from those previous installments would be helpful heading into “GvK”, but this new edition works perfectly fine as a standalone film.
The two titans (one of land, one of sea) think (yes, they can think) they’re enemies. And they square-off in some epic battles. In Kong’s corner are scientists Nathan and Ilene (played by Alexander Skarsgard and Rebecca Hall), along with Ilene’s hearing impaired daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle). Her heartwarming relationship with the giant ape is the film’s strong emotional core.
Meantime, trying to figure out what’s gotten into former good-guy Godzilla is Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) and “Titan Truth” podcast host Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry in the standard comic relief role). The teen and the talker infiltrate the Florida headquarters of APEX, where they discover stranger things than they expected. Demian Bichir (in what seems like his 50th film appearance in the past year) does a decent take on the modern mad scientist.
Director Adam Wingard presents the action sequences in pseudo-documentary style. We’re placed directly in the middle of the destruction, and it looks and feels as real as it gets. The fight scenes are (no surprise) the highlights of “Godzilla vs. Kong”, including a heavyweight third act. The city of Hong Kong gets the worst of it in the climactic match.
The parallel storylines work well enough, and the screenplay isn’t overly complicated or drawn out. The exotic locales of Skull Island and Hollow Earth are fascinating. Wingard succeeds in keeping “GvK” under two hours, though a few plot elements do seem a bit rushed.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is a Summer popcorn movie released Easter Week. In light of everything that’s gone on with the industry in over the past year, this makes perfect sense. If there was ever a film to usher back the genuine Hollywood escapism experience this is it… whether in an IMAX theater or in front of your 50-inch flat-screen.
LCJ GRADE: B
Running Time: 113 min.