by Nick Ratliff
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is one of the biggest blockbusters to come out since the pandemic started last March. Because new releases have become so rare, the hype and expectation for this movie were very high. After the success of the first three films in the MonsterVerse, this climatic crossover needed to be nothing short of greatness.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” takes place five years after Godzilla killed Ghidorah, his primary rival titan. Titans are enormous beings who ruled over the Earth for thousands of years, dominating the planet. At this point in time, Godzilla and King Kong are the last two Titans known to be alive.
This simple fact forms the basis of the movie’s conflict: Two alpha titans cannot coexist in harmony unless one either submits or dies. On top of that, biotech megacorporation Apex Cybernetics is having its scientists rewire the neural networks in one of Ghidorah’s skulls in an effort to create their own robotic, pilot-controlled titan, Mechagodzilla.
To power their massive mech, Apex needs the same type of power that Godzilla draws from the Hollow Earth (a secret world hidden miles underneath the Earth’s surface). To be able to use this power, they need to send a team of their scientists to Hollow Earth to study its source, and to get to that source, they need a titan (i.e., King Kong) to lead the way.
In one of the movie’s most glaring logical errors, Apex decides to transport a sedated Kong to the Hollow Earth gateway by boat, placing him smack-dab in Godzilla’s territory. The reptilian monster, who already has it out of Kong, quickly destroys most of the fleet and almost kills Kong in the process, who survives only thanks to the humans intervening. The sheer stupidity of this fight’s setup made it my main gripe with the movie.
After this disastrous attack, the humans finally decide to fly Kong the rest of the way, something they could (and should) have done in the first place. Gripes aside, I loved that the movie was centered around its fight scenes (we get to see these titans go toe-to-toe twice before their inevitable team-up at the end of the movie). Yes, the first fight was illogical in its setup, but the action was still thrilling both narratively and visually. This scene also shows how powerful Godzilla is in the natural habitat. Obviously, Godzilla would destroy Kong in the water, and that’s exactly what happens here.
The second fight scene is absolutely iconic. Kong and the humans eventually make it to Hollow Earth, where they uncover the history of an ancient war between Kong’s and Godzilla’s ancestors. Kong finds an old ax, a remnant of his forefathers, which he powers up using the Hollow Earth energy.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Godzilla senses Kong charging up his weapon and uses his atomic breath to drill all the way down to Hollow Earth. Kong and the humans take this hole all the way up to the surface, leading to an epic faceoff in Hong Kong. The last thirty minutes of the film are devoted entirely to this brutal, bombastic, and breathtaking final fight. This scene doesn’t at all pull its punches; these two titans clash with no regard for the environment around them, crashing through building after building just like any MonsterVerse fan would expect.
Again, Godzilla emerges the victor, leaving Kong to die after Mechagodzilla, gone rogue almost immediately after being activated, explosively emerges from Apex’s Hong Kong facility. This time, the reptilian quickly finds himself outmatched, and the humans soon realize he can’t win this fight on his own. With Kong fading fast, the humans decide to supercharge the vehicle that brought them to Hollow Earth to act as a defibrillator. This detail serves as a fitting callback to 2014’s “Godzilla,” when the humans intentionally detonate a nuke to recharge Godzilla’s power so he can take on an enemy titan. With Kong back in action, the former foes team up to definitively defeat Mechagodzilla.
After the fight, Godzilla, and Kong stare each other down, and for a few seconds, I was unsure what exactly would happen next. Kong roars at Godzilla, and Godzilla roars back, a show of their mutual respect for each other. They then go their separate ways, with Godzilla returning to the ocean while Kong returns to Hollow Earth to reclaim the land of his ancestors. While this ending leaves open the possibility for another versus movie in the future, the clear winner of this movie was Godzilla, going 2-0 against Kong.
In many ways, this film reminded me of “Batman v Superman” because it follows the same basic story structure of having the two leads be at odds with each other for most of the movie before teaming up to defeat a greater villain in the final act. Just as with that movie, “Godzilla vs Kong” suffers from its predictability. Most people knew that the two titans would team up to defeat Mechagodzilla after his reveal in the trailer. As such, the movie would have benefited from less revealing marketing and a more mysterious story.
That said, director Adam Wingard does a competent job helming the film. The CGI shots look remarkably good throughout, bringing the two titans to life in a way no film has done previously. The advancement in CGI technology over the past twenty years is truly astounding.
While there is no confirmed follow-up, I believe we will eventually get another movie with at least one of these characters, as they bring Warner Bros too much money to not make another film. This movie alone has raked in over $338 million worldwide so far, a new record for a post-pandemic release. Overall, I would give this movie an 8/10; it was a highly enjoyable ride, and I personally cannot wait to see how the story unfolds in future movies.
“Godzilla vs Kong” is now in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max through April 30.