The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - GODZILLA VS KONG | The Movie Waffler

Sponsor

New Release Review [VOD] - GODZILLA VS KONG

godzilla vs kong review
Titans will clash!

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Adam Wingard

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle

godzilla vs kong poster

Godzilla Vs Kong – they gonna get it on cos they don’t get along. Out of Skull Island is Kong, the eighth wonder of the world, or rather a version of the beast expanded to a height that allows him to compete in the same weight class as his lizard opponent. From the depths of the Pacific is Gojira, or as we westerners call him, Godzilla, once the saviour of our planet but now mightily pissed off for some unknown reason.

I have to admit I'm firmly Team Kong. The 1933 film represents Hollywood spectacle at its best, only outdone by the arrival of George Lucas and his wars in the stars four decades later. Even as a kid I could never quite get into the Godzilla movies. I was, and still am, a sucker for stop-motion, so men in suits just didn't do it for me. That said, I'd gladly take a man in a rubber costume over the soulless CG of this franchise. No amount of rumbling sub-woofer can prevent Godzilla Vs Kong's titular titans from feeling weightless.

godzilla vs kong review

Just like its immediate predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, this sequel from director Adam Wingard (great when he's doing his own thing with indies like You're Next and The Guest, not so much when working with established IP like Blair Witch and Death Note) suffers from an over-abundance of human characters.


Millie Bobby Brown is back as the Gen Z Nancy Drew she played in KOTM, accompanied now by a pair of Mantan Moreland-esque comic relief ethnic sidekicks played by Julian Dennison (who was great in Hunt for the Wilderpeople but gets nothing interesting to do here) and Brian Tyree Henry (whose character is essentially an anti-vaxxer, which tells you this was definitely made before the COVID era). They go snooping around a facility recently attacked by Godzilla in search of answers as to why the lizard is so peeved.

godzilla vs kong review

A separate plotline takes us to Skull Island, where Kong lives a dull existence inside a dome that looks a lot like the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. In a fun opening sequence we watch him wake up, scratch his ass and take a shower under a giant waterfall. But then it's onto more boring homo sapiens in the form of Rebecca Hall, a scientist studying something or other, and Kaylee Hottle as a deaf native girl who chats with Kong through sign language. Alexander Skarsgard arrives as another scientist with a PHD in taking up unnecessary screen time. I never could figure out the need for Skarsgard's character. 20 years ago he would have been a love interest for Hall (they'd most likely have been a bickering divorced couple who bond while trying to save the world), but Hollywood doesn't do sexual tension any more so he serves no purpose. Anyway, Hall, Skarsgard and Hottle sedate Kong, strap him to the deck of an aircraft carrier like in the much maligned 1976 film, and set off for Hollow Earth in search of the golden macguffin.


So who wins between Godzilla and Kong? Well, as you might expect, neither of the eponymous monsters are the film's real villain. That comes in the human form of a billionaire played by Demián Bichir. You can tell he's evil because he drinks Scotch and sports the same swept back hair and beard combo as Alan Rickman in Die Hard. He has an evil daughter in the form of Eiza Gonzalez, who heads to Hollow Earth with some mercenary types in tow. I never quite found either of them as evil as I think we're supposed to, and the latter just seems to annoy people because she's an assertive woman in a position of power. Of course, two Mexicans aren't going to square off against a pair of 50 storey tall monsters, and so Mecha-Godzilla, a giant human controlled robot lizard, shows up to join in the fight.

godzilla vs kong review

Said scrap, when it finally arrives, is entertaining enough, but by that point you'll probably have already dozed off. The choreography is nicely handled – it's a proper brawl, with the monsters punching each other other square in the face like John Wayne and Victor MacLaglen at the climax of The Quiet Man. But it takes place in a CG recreation of Hong Kong that makes the city look like that old vector graphics Star Wars arcade game from the '80s, or the simulated world of Tron (Godzilla Vs Kong is so littered with CG and iris-searing neon lighting that it's not so much a movie as a lava lamp with credits). As skyscrapers are torn from their roots like Bonzai trees, we never once get the sense that this is a heavily populated metropolis. What made Gareth Edwards' 2014 franchise starter work so well was how he kept his camera largely at ground level, placing us in the shoes of the citizens scurrying away from the rampaging kaiju. Wingard's camera often feels like it's attached to a virtual drone in the sky, removing the sense of scale necessary to make this work.

When will one of these movies get rid of the boring boffins and military characters and give us an everyman protagonist who just happens to be going about their day when their city is stomped on by a giant hairy foot? You know, like Tom Cruise in Spielberg's War of the Worlds, still the only Hollywood movie of the 21st century that managed to replicate the thrills of golden age mid 20th century sci-fi cinema.

Godzilla Vs Kong
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.



2021 movie reviews