Scientists entice King Kong to guide them to an unimaginable power source in Godzilla vs. Kong.
This is the fourth film in what’s known as the MonsterVerse franchise that began with 2014’s Godzilla. In this latest installment, three different groups each work toward their own disparate goals. Kong expert Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) want to keep the ape off Godzilla’s perpetual, innate radar. Podcaster and conspiracy buff Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) links up with Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), the daughter of a scientist from Monarch (a monster-investigation organization), to uncover the truth behind Godzilla’s continued attacks. Apex Cybernetics CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) enlists the aid of Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), a former Monarch scientist, to track down a mysterious power source in hopes of bringing his greatest creation, Mechagodzilla, to life.
Director Adam Wingard, known mostly for B-grade horror flicks like 2014’s plotless mess The Guest, shows that he hasn’t learned much in all of that time. This film starts with a stomp and ends in the swamp. Nearly everything that happens between the first frame and the last is patently, utterly ridiculous… but wait.
Granted, I didn’t catch the previous three films, so perhaps there are nuances that help connect all of its disjointed parts — not counting the litany of varied limbs strewn throughout the landscape — but I seriously doubt it. For some unknown reason, we’re told that there can only ever be one Titan-type monster walking around or else they end up seeking each other out in some testosterone-induced ragefest. That’s fine, except that, later in the film, this is suddenly no longer an issue.
There are also countless head-slapping moments where you wonder in which world the writers live. Madison and Bernie’s small investigative group walks around hostile, highly-secured areas as if they’re shopping at Costco. No one seems to notice them just hanging about, and apparently, Apex couldn’t afford enough security cameras.
I’d talk about the performances, but frankly, what’s the point? The only note I made of them was my disappointment to find both Hall and Brown associated with it. Both are better than this, but bills need to get paid.
Of course, the biggest characters — quite literally — are all CGI-based, but Wingard opts for the unnecessary decision to show nearly all wide shots of the monsters in slow motion. There’s an old, tired argument about acceleration of mass vs. the speed of light, but it just looks wrong on film.
The real heroes are the nonstop action sequences and the crescendo of booming sound effects. Once the party gets started, we’re all in for the ride. The sheer excess of it is just enough to mask the film’s biggest blemishes, leaving us with a small, but somewhat perceptible, smile.