Godzilla vs Kong: a Monster Showdown for the Ages
Of all of the films that Warner Brothers announced they would release both in theaters on streaming services in 2021, Godzilla vs. Kong was one of the most highly anticipated. And considering that the last time the two titans faced off was in the 1962 Japanese kaiju film, King Kong vs. Godzilla, it’s fair to say that two of pop culture’s most iconic giant beasts were overdue for a rematch. 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong comes as the fourth installment of Warner Brothers “MonsterVerse” – following Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). It's the culmination of the mythology and story arc built up over the previous three pictures. While each of the previous films had issues, I did enjoy the comedic tone of Kong: Skull Island and the dramatic feeling of Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Since both films had slightly different styles, I was curious to see what direction this new film would take when both titans met on-screen. I also wondered whether or not they would continue with the plot and characters from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, especially considering that it consisted of an entirely different set of characters than Godzilla. Director Adam Wingard was certainly challenged by having to try and develop an interesting plot with meaningful characters without drawing away from the main attraction: the ultimate showdown between two of sci-fi’s all-time greatest monsters. Spoiler Warning as multiple key plot points are discussed throughout this article from this point forward!
In just under two hours, Godzilla vs. Kong delivers on both fronts. In terms of the plot, we see key characters from Godzilla: King of Monsters return in the form of Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler as the father-daughter duo of Madison and Mark Russel. While Mark is limited to a brief cameo, Madison plays a key role as she investigates the suspicious Apex Corporation that may be responsible for the recent Godzilla attacks with the help of her new friends, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) and Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison), who each deliver great performances. On Kong’s side, we are also introduced to a totally new set of characters, which makes sense considering Kong: Skull Island takes place in the early 1970s. We meet scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), and Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a young, orphaned girl who is deaf and forms a unique and powerful bond with Kong. At first, I didn't know what to make of these new characters but quickly connected with them especially because they show genuine affection for Kong, as opposed to others who try to exploit him for his power. They care for Kong and work alongside Monarch (the organization created by the United States to study the “Kaiju” aka giant monsters) and Apex to help transport Kong to an entrance of Hollow Earth, in the hope of locating an energy source that will help protect them against Godzilla. Hollow Earth is a series of humongous underground caves that exist deep under earth’s surface, theorized by many to have hosted titans for centuries. It is accessible now for the first time, thanks to high-tech anti-gravity vehicles called HEAVES, created by Apex. Even though the dialogue is a bit sketchy at times and not all of the characters were impactful, the majority of the characters offered an engaging and compelling plot that keeps things interesting without drawing away from the main attraction of the film.
When it comes to the monster battles, Godzilla vs. Kong definitely did not disappoint. Cinematic production has come a long way since 1962, and you can see it on display here as we see Zilla and Kong face off twice in magnificently destructive cinematic fashion. The first encounter occurs in the Pacific Ocean when they are transporting Kong on a cargo ship. Godzilla totally dominates the fight, destroying multiple ships, and Kong barely manages to survive. This fantastic encounter is only an appetizer for the absolutely glorious demolition we see at the end of the film as the two face-off for the second time. At this point, Kong has successfully reached Hollow Earth and discovered remnants of its ancestors, while Godzilla has wreaked havoc on Hong Kong (which is a great homage to previous Godzilla films), and we discover the Apex Corporation has been using titan organic material to power a Godzilla-like Mecha titan, which explains the recent Godzilla attacks. The final fight is a feast for the eyes as we see both Titans landing killer blows, biting, destroying the surroundings, and going pound-for-pound for several action-packed minutes. Kong gets knocked down, seemingly defeated before Ilene, Jia, and others use a HEAVE to restart his heart. Mechagodzilla then appears and starts rampaging after Apex has completely lost control of the killing machine. The film finishes with a battle for the ages as the Godzilla and Kong team up to defeat their mechanical foe in a rip-roaring brawl that ends with Mechazilla being sliced to pieces by Kong. After finally defeating their foe, the two titans then stare at each other in a moment of mutual respect and decide to go their separate ways after saving the world. As someone who thoroughly enjoys action and epic fight scenes whether it be in anime, video games, or movies, this film had some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in a while. I felt like a little kid again, completely in awe of the awesomeness of watching monsters and robots battle it out to decide the fate of humanity.
Godzilla vs. Kong is a film that shows exactly what it needs to and nothing that it doesn’t. It offers a good plot with interesting and important characters, without distracting from the main event people want to see. It delivers electrifying fighting visuals that leave you standing up out of your seat, cheering for your favorite Kaiju. You should check it out if you get the chance, and hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 50 years to see our two favorite Kaijus meet again in thrilling combat.
Written by: Bryan Herrera | Instagram
Art by: Mikael Byrd | Instagram