Review by Daniel Blackaby April 1, 2021
Godzilla Vs. Kong (Movie Review)
Final Verdict: A big, dumb, CGI-spectacle that exists solely to showcase some giant monsters fighting—for better or worse.
About The Film
This is a dumb movie about a big CGI monkey brawling a giant CGI lizard.
Your enjoyment of this film will depend entirely on whether you read the above sentence as positive or negative. The movie’s title tells viewers exactly what to expect. Following after Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019), Godzilla vs. Kong finally pits the two classic monsters against each other in a battle for alpha dominance—and that’s pretty much it.
Again, it really cannot be emphasized emphatically enough just how dumb this movie is. Of course, the opening shot features a sleepy Kong walking around and scratching his butt while romantic music plays (like some sort of ode to Shrek), so the filmmakers seem fully aware of the movie’s ridiculousness (at least I hope they are). The movie rides the precarious line between being “so bad it’s good” and simply being “so bad.”
The plot is the thin and nonsensical, seemingly out of necessity to fill in the time that the special effect’s budget couldn’t afford to have the monsters fighting. The acting is home-video levels of awful (despite some recognizable names). There are countless obligatory exposition dumps where character spout off scientific jargon-filled mumbo jumbo, and people make world-altering decisions seemingly on a whim.
But no one goes to a WWE wrestling event looking for Shakespearian drama; they go looking to see some “punchy, punchy. Kicky, kicky.” Thrown in some atomic breath and some gorilla chest pounds, and we’ve got a movie. For better or worse, this film exists sorely to pit the classic monsters in a battle royal for supremacy. This is why it is a little surprising that the first monster throwdown doesn’t come until the 40-minute mark, and then the monsters do not meet again for another 40 minutes. The fights themselves are some good, geeky fun, and for many viewers, that will be all that matters.
While I fully understand why many viewers will be satisfied with the massive, spectacle-driven battles the film offers, I was unfortunately underwhelmed. I love human vs. monster movies (JAWS, Jurassic Park, A Quiet Place), but am generally less interested in monster vs monster flicks, and this film reminded me why. Without the human dimension (for heart and scale), the spectacle of the battles essentially feels like watching a realistic cartoon or a video game cut scene. Also, although the monsters level buildings and produce massive destruction, you never really get a sense of the scale since the two monsters are equally sized and the film rarely gives a human-perspective on the fights (something that the previous solo films captured so well).
In the end, this is B-movie flick with blockbuster special effects. Viewers who simply want to watch some CGI monsters fight will probably enjoy it. Anyone hoping for a little bit more, however, may feel like they just took a blast to the head from Godzilla’s atomic breath by the time they reach the ending credits.
On the Surface
Profanity:Handful of minor profanities (S—, B—, etc.).
Violence:Monster-on-Monster violence (colored blood, severed limbs, etc.). Human characters die in bloodless and non-explicit ways.
Beneath the Surface
Engage the Film
This is not a film that aspires to wrestle with deep philosophical questions or complex themes. Despite this, there has been an underlying religious motif throughout the MonsterVerse, although perhaps one more in line with Greek mythology than Christianity. The monsters are largely treated as the “old gods” (established with more on-the-nose religious imagery in prior films).
Godzilla’s reappearance in this film is to pass judgement on humanity for overreaching and grasping for godhood, akin to the biblical Tower of Babel narrative. The human scientists in the movie attempt to use advanced technology to achieve new, god-like ability. In reference to Godzilla, the objective is bluntly stated as becoming “Not only his equal, but his superior.” As with Jurassic Park and many other sci-fi films before it, Godzilla vs. Kong plays out as a cautionary tale about human arrogance to play god.
Interesting, in order to power the technology, the scientists need to harness the powers from the monsters. Their science is built on what already exists, rather than creating anything new. Like real-world scientists attempting to create life in a lab by using existing DNA cells, the film showcases the limitations of human science and ability.
Of course, the film is no Christian allegory or sermon. Witnessing the senseless destruction by the monsters, it’s hard not to sympathize with the human villains and agree on the need for some power to guard against the devastating will and whims of the immense creatures. The film presents these guardian beings, not as benevolent deities, but as frightening forces of nature.