Most blockbuster movies have one thing in common, and that’s having cool badass fight scenes or brawls between good and evil. Sometimes it’s just misunderstandings between two sides, causing them to be on opposing ends. But imagine a movie where it’s centered around two specific opponents. Yes, there are films that do feature this gimmick and are usually purposeful for fight scene galore. Moreover, they often have a specific word that goes with their titles called ‘versus’ or in short, ‘vs’.
The main issue with these ‘versus’ films is that they never really strike a chord with critics. So, will the newly-released “Godzilla vs. Kong” prove them wrong? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it. But in all honesty, who cares right? It’s clear that these films are meant for visual fights alone and filmgoers just want some enjoyment and be entertained. However, that doesn’t excuse other elements being so half-assed in this movie.
Adam Wingard is the director of “Godzilla vs. Kong”, who’s made the critically acclaimed horror home invasion film “You’re Next”. However, he’s also made some very subpar and poorly received films like the unnecessary spin-off found-footage horror, “Blair Witch” and the live-action film adaptation of popular anime series with a white-washed main lead, “Death Note”. So, many felt that “Godzilla vs. Kong” being Wingard’s first directed blockbuster movie could go either way.
This is very reminiscent of Michael Dougherty’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” who also created low-budget horror films like “Trick ’r Treat” and “Krampus”. Seeing Wingard tackling a big-budget film seemed intriguing. Low-budget horror film directors have been venturing into bigger films and have proven to be successful. It’s worth mentioning that Dougherty is also the writer for “Godzilla vs. Kong”.
The movie also features Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri (小栗旬), Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, and Kaylee Hottle.
For the pros of “Godzilla vs. Kong”, the film sells very well on its fight scenes. Thus, the title of the movie is very fitting. Seeing two iconic gargantuan titans fighting each other just feels so rewarding. No matter which side you’re on, both Godzilla and King Kong are iconic in their own right. The effects are phenomenal and pretty much the saving grace of this movie – which isn’t saying much, as the film’s main drawing point are the two monsters clashing. There is also a typical big corporate villain but he turned out to be just an underwhelming and uninteresting character.
While the actors did all their best with their performances, actor Alexander Skarsgård stood out the most as he felt somewhat refreshing. He wasn’t some alpha male lead nor was he acting tough, as his character, Dr. Nathan Lind seemed very aloof and cowardly. “Iron Man 3” actress Rebecca Hall also puts on a stunning performance as Dr. Ilene Andrews alongside deaf child actress Kaylee Hottle, who plays a young orphan Iwi child named Jia. (Fun fact: It was nice to see a real-life deaf girl playing an actual deaf character.)
“Godzilla vs. Kong” also has a wonderful soundtrack, albeit nothing too spectacular. During certain fight scenes, the soundtrack wasn’t even properly utilised. Had this been incorporated, it would’ve made all the destruction and explosions sound more satisfying.
While the movie does come with promising action-packed fun, there’s one major problem to be said about “Godzilla vs. Kong” and that was the human characters. Aside from Nathan, Ilene, and Jia, most of the other characters felt so pointless and cliche. All the villains in this movie felt uncompelling and lackluster.
Millie Bobbie Brown’s character, Madison Russell comes back but somehow feels irrelevant to this story. Her whole reason of being here was to convince people that Godzilla isn’t evil but it never really results in anything. The worst part is Kyle Chandler as Madison’s father, Mark Russell. Removing him from the movie wouldn’t affect the film at all. His only character trait is being overly concerned about his daughter.
You also have Julian Dennison’s Josh Valentine and Brian Tyree Henry’s Bernie Hayes, both of whom accompany Madison throughout the film but were mostly annoying and only present for comedy relief. That leads to the next problem, comedy. This movie tries to ham-fist jokes that are so poorly constructed. Both Josh and Bernie fall victim to this and barely made us chuckled. Sometimes it ruins the tension of the film. Perhaps hire some comedy writers if you’re gonna add some humorous elements?
One very nitpicky issue with this movie is the lack of racial diversity. The only good representation “Godzilla vs. Kong” had to offer is the deaf girl. However, this movie just reeks of white heroism. The only two non-white characters in this film were Bernies Hayes and Shun Oguri’s Ren Serizawa. Obviously, this movie is based on a Japanese monster icon, yet it’s ironic how the only Japanese or Asian character gets nothing out of this movie.
The movie also felt kind of predictable. Most ‘versus’ films normally result in both opponents never winning or losing and always meeting on equal terms near the end of these films. But giving that both Godzilla and King Kong are mostly saviours, it makes total sense for this to happen.
Also, “Godzilla vs. Kong” had an abrupt ending which felt very lazy. You have both Godzilla and King Kong taking on each other in the city of Hong Kong, resulting in multiple destructions of buildings, skyscrapers, and roads. Basically, almost the whole city was torn apart. Obviously, there’s gonna be loads of casualties right? Those wanting to see the aftermath of what happened will be left disappointed.
Overall, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is an alright film that serves its purpose of presenting audiences with spectacular and engaging fight scenes between the two titular beasts. Unfortunately, the human characters in this movie were a major issue. Nathan Lind, Ilene Andrews, and Jia were the only likable ones in the film whereas the other characters fell flat.
All that aside, this is a movie that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If you’re looking forward to the fight scenes alone, then you won’t be too disappointed. It’s good fun!
You can catch “Godzilla vs. Kong” in cinemas on 24th March.