Godzilla vs. Kong finally answers the age-old question: Can any movie truly stink if it includes huge monsters destroying major cities?
Yes, indeedy-do it can; and to be honest, this question was answered by its MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which was just as bad.
I started out a big fan of this Legendary/Warner Bros. franchise. I could sit down right now and rewatch 2014’s Godzilla. As far as the second title in the series, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, it disappointed some, but I’d probably give it another shot. Never again, though, despite the casting of Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler, will I watch 2019’s utterly dreadful Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a massive box office bomb that should have given Legendary a wake-up call to return to what made 2014’s Godzilla such a success.
Nope. Instead we get this silly mess.
Sorry, but after Transformers 1-100, Pacific Rim, all these superhero movies, B-movies like Rampage, and C-movies like Into the Storm, destroying a city just isn’t enough anymore. We’ve literally seen it a hundred times. We need something more — like suspense and characters to care about. This franchise started out with exactly that. Godzilla (2014) delivered believable characters and a legitimate sense of peril and wonder… None of that is found anywhere in Kong vs. Godzilla.
What is supposed to be the MonsterVerse’s Avengers and Justice League, the culmination of a franchise, is a failure.
The biggest problem is no sense of peril. The monsters duke it out as our human characters watch in relative safety. The cinematography doesn’t help. It’s so bright and clean, you never forget you’re watching something generated by a computer, an upscale cartoon. How can we buy into this world when it looks and therefore feels so artificial?
You can laugh all you want at the crude effects of the 88-year-old King Kong (1933). That movie is still the greatest adventure movie of all time and feels real because the effects are organic as opposed to candy-colored pixels.
Sadly, the Kong vs. Godzilla characters are also cartoons. There’s the precocious little deaf girl who always has a tear running down her cheek as though someone just littered. She hangs out with her adopted mother and some other guy. This trio has zero chemistry. The potential for romance between the grown gal and grown guy might have helped give them some dimension, but the Woke Gestapo has outlawed human nature, so it’s all a big blah.
Even worse, though, is a trio of morons — a mouthy conspiracy theorist, an overweight nerd, and the bossy and brassy girl (who might be a boy — who the hell knows anymore). Everything about these idiots is obnoxiously turned up to 11 and nothing in their storyline or relationships is believable. We’re machine-gunned with bad jokes, and we’re actually supposed to believe legitimate dimwits, who could not get a drive-thru order correct, can somehow unravel a massive corporate mystery.
Our corporate villain is played by Mexican actor Demián Bichir Nájera, who’s given the Wonder Bread name Walter Simmons. Apparently, this is how you earn diversity points for casting while still blaming whitey.
Where the movie really stumbles is in its desperation to expand the MonsterVerse mythology.
One thing that makes Godzilla so appealing is that he is supposed to be a creation of our own science gone too far.
The primary appeal of King Kong is that we discover him living among us on an island shrouded in mist, an island that time forgot.
Those are very cool ideas that fire the imagination. Part of the appeal is their simplicity and that no matter what, Godzilla is a giant lizard and Kong is a giant ape. They are animals with animal agendas. In the case of Godzilla, sometimes that agenda aids mankind, sometimes it doesn’t.
Kong vs. Godzilla tosses all that out to give us something called Hollow Earth, the overheated idea that in the middle of Earth there is a wondrous land where monsters live. If that’s not overheated enough, Kong is the king of Hollow Earth, where he literally sits on a throne and holds a glowing ax that shines with an energy source Corporate Whitey wants to get his hands on.
Oh, and Kong also knows sign language now.
And Godzilla… I don’t even know. We’re told Kong and Godzilla must fight to the death because there can be only one apex predator, but then this is all tossed out with no explanation.
I know Legendary is desperate to pull its MonsterVerse franchise out of the ditch and wants us to look at all this expansive mythology with awe and wonder, but it’s overwrought and desperate — like a little kid making things up as he goes along: And-and-and Skull Island doesn’t matter cuz-cuz-cuz all the big monsters live in the middle of Earth and-and-and Kong sits onna throne and-and-and his ax glows ‘n stuff.
Bottom line: Whether we’re visiting a Skull Island filled with prehistoric creatures or visiting a Tokyo plagued by a giant lizard, the primary job of a filmmaker is to make their world believable, to get the audience to buy into what we’re watching. Between the cartoonish CGI, the even more cartoonish characters, and never believing for a moment that anything was at stake, Godzilla vs. Kong fails miserably.
And let me add this… If you’re thinking I was watching a movie that should be seen on a big screen on a small TV, you’re wrong. I have a hi-def projector. This sucker was blown up on a 12 foot by 7 foot screen with 7.1 Surroundsound.
It still stunk.
P.S. And let’s not forget that the overall premise is every bit as stupid and Superman v. Batman. One shot of Godzilla’s atomic fire and Kong is dead. Naturally, for whatever reason, Godzilla doesn’t use it and when he does, Kong holds up the top of a building that should be vaporized, not act as a shield. I mean, all Superman had to do to kill Batman was throw him into space or freeze him or fry him or pound him into the ground.
It’s all so stupid and insulting.