Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Godzilla VS Kong

Kaiju KO

Godzilla VS Kong
USA/Australia/Canada/India 2021
Directed by Adam Wingard
Warner Brothers

Warning: This review will have kaiju sized spoilers.

Oof! Godzilla VS Kong is something I’d been looking forward to for a while. The fourth in the new US Monsterverse movies and following on from the two good films in the series, Kong: Skull Island (reviewed here) and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (reviewed here), I was probably expecting a lot more from it than it could maybe, in hindsight, have credibly delivered. Also, I’ve quite liked some of director Adam Wingard’s previous movies and, although I think it’s a bigger film than he’s used to heading up... I had a lot of confidence in him on this.

And I can certainly confirm that the film looks really nice and has some beautiful, bright colours and lots of ‘monster smack’ carnage on show. It also has returning performers from one of the previous installments in the form of  Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler reprising their roles from Godzilla - King Of The Monsters. They are joined by some equally cool people such as Alexander Skarsgård as a good guy scientist and one of my favourite modern actresses, Rebecca Hall. And it even has the return of one of my favourite, iconic kaiju characters who tends to turn up from time to time in the Godzilla movies over the years, Mecha-Godzilla. So, yeah, I should have probably got a lot more out of this than I did. It looks great, has lots of explosions and punching of things and has great actors delivering the lines. Terrible nonsense lines though so, that doesn’t help things along, to start with.

I think my biggest complaint after seeing it is that I just didn’t understand what the heck this movie was about at all. Now it doesn’t help I was being hit by ‘buffering’ every minute or so for a while (I don’t know why streaming is so popular in the UK when our internet infrastructure is so terrible trying to handle anything remotely HD) and I’m sure I would have responded to this much better if I’d seen it in a proper cinema (the only way a movie should be watched the first time)... but I’m not sure anything would have helped me comprehend the plot to this film, which re-positions Godzilla as the bad guy and then, at the end, says it’s alright because he was just attacking ‘company x’ because they were doing bad things. Nope. He was killing innocent people and destroying cities in the process and that’s not a cool look... Gojira was definitely back to his old 1954 self as far as I’m concerned. And the general comments shouted by the rest of the family as we were watching, echoing mine such as... “What’s going on?”, “What just happened?”, “Was there two of him in that shot... how?”, “Is someone going to come and explain why they’re doing this and what this means?”... well, I think they speak for themselves.

I know that, for some reason I couldn’t figure out, people needed to get Kong to get them to the centre of the Earth (you know, the old hollow Earth theory again) but something to do with the gravity shift was a danger but... it’s okay because Kong was with them and... sorry, what? And a ludicrous subplot that re-introduced a less than interesting redesign of Mecha-Godzilla when, frankly, after we saw a giant mechanical eyeball near the start of the movie, we really didn’t need it spelled out. And no Charles Dance in sight? We saw him as the main villain making off with a dead Ghidorah head in the post-credits of the last movie but here, the head is back but the villain isn’t. Like he just disappeared into the ether.

But we do have the Ghidorah head... now a skull. Because obviously, a human mind needs to make a connection with a Ghidorah head to be able to control the man-made Mecha-Godzilla right? I mean, what? Just what? And then, when the human brain is destroyed, this makes Mecha-G go off into its own rampage... why? Lots of whys and whats here because... I’m sorry but this movie’s plot is just absolute twaddle. And don’t get me started on how it’s set just a couple of years in our future but there’s no mention made of the Coronavirus. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be around for a while and it seems kinda stupid that Hollywood would think we would forget about that. Nobody is masking up in this film, for sure.

Also, I know the director and composer are probably huge fans of the original films in the respective franchises but, I felt the whole thing played out with a lot less respect than either monster deserved. Junkie XL’s score has one, possibly accidental, similarity to Ifukube’s five note power theme for The Big G which I noticed in one action scene and which I suspect was just serendipitous. The previous score by the great Bear McCreary was loaded with musical references to a whole host of Toho monster themes giving the leitmotifs associated with them their due in a fan pleasing score that really served the movie well. This new score is appropriate to the action but just feels like a wasted opportunity and gives no real reference to Ifukube, Sato, Koseki or even Max Steiner in its make up. It’s just another score which could have been ‘anything appropriate’ when it’s been demonstrated in the last film that a good, striking, use of the previous material as musical building blocks can be carried out very well. I felt like this was a major step backwards for these movies and it’s now the fourth in a series which, like the previous three, has absolutely no musical continuity with any of the others. It’s just egos doing their own thing when they could have served a more functional purpose for the good of the whole canon of works.

And, by the way, King Kong has been around since 1933 whereas Godzilla is a relatively new character from 1954. Show some respect... there’s no way, despite Kong being stripped of his royal nomenclature for these movies, that Godzilla would beat him to near death. Kong's more dexterous. It just beggars belief. And, although the shout out to certain other Kong and kaiju movies where human intervention is necessary to restart (or in some films replace) a slowing heart is appreciated, the circumstances which took us to that point felt somehow unacceptable to me.

And so there you have it. Godzilla VS Kong looks great, has made huge gains at the box office but, sadly, under all the hullabaloo it’s just an empty and somehow inarticulate shell of a movie masquerading as something much bigger than it actually is. I can enjoy the moments of monster carnage and will probably do so again on Blu Ray but, as a consequential entry in the entire body of work of both the King Kong and Godzilla franchises, it leaves no mark and is, perhaps, best left forgotten. I was, at the end of the last picture, looking forward to this franchise continuing but now I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Everything seems to be thrown away and the dots that are meant join the films together make a tenuous and unnecessary trail at best. I can’t recommend this one, to be honest.

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