I grew up with Godzilla and his movies. I remember watching Godzilla movies on a Detroit station that ran sci-fi and horror double features on Saturdays. I grew up watching him battle King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan, Gigan, and the rest. From a young age Godzilla was part of my life, so much so that I even had one of the classic toys where he had a flaming tongue that could pop out of his mouth at the pull of a lever, his right fist could fire off and, for some reason, he had wheels on his feet. I loved that toy and wreaked havoc with him. I still remember when Godzilla 1984 hit the States and how excited I was to see who he’d fight and how things would turn out. Imagine my disappointment to find that oh, he’s just stomping around and is only tussling with the humans.
I tell you what though, I watched and re-watched the end of ’84 – the colloquial American name for it – because of how shocking and sad it was. Oh man, the music, and seeing big G falling into a hole and screaming in shock as he disappeared from view. Holy cats. It sorta broke me in the way only something you connect with like that can.
When the ‘90s came and I discovered the Grand Era of the darker, bigger, and badder Godzilla movies via bootlegs I was in heaven. I picked the boots up at comic conventions and man alive, that was an era. The monsters were incredible, the big guy himself was scary, and the films felt bigger and actually serious.
It was amazing.
I still hold those as the perfect Godzilla films with a perfect ending for that era and that incarnation of the main lizard.
After that the best we got was the American version which, I admit, I don’t hate, and I sorta wish we coulda seen where it would have gone, but I was just happy to have Godzilla back in action, to be honest. It is for sure a lesser entry but then, the movies Japan was making in that early 2000s era weren’t hitting it for me either, so I can’t say I looked that harshly on it.
Smash forward to the modern era and the re-birth of the American Godzilla and boy, what a difference! I can’t tell you how excited I was to have him 1. Back and 2. Back in such a huge way. I adored Godzilla and thought it hit all of the notes that I was desperate to see, especially allowing him to have enemies to be pitted against. I mean, I get G versus Man, but I was always more interested in seeing him battle monsters. As much as I liked Godzilla though, I absolutely loved Godzilla King of Monsters because it opened this world of monsters up and gave us fans what we were so desperate for – oceans of monsters wreaking havoc on the earth. AMAZING! Like the previous film these were not about the people, but we needed the humans to give the stakes meaning. In both films the writing for the humans is passable but certainly not breathtaking. If there’s a slight on the film’s it’s that, for sure. This isn’t a killing stroke, at all, but it’s still a knock against the films.
With Kong of Skull Island, we got a little better mix of writing and action and, if I am honest, that is the best film of this new Monsterverse. It still has its issues but overall, it’s a solid, fun ride with real live people in it. The thing with all of these movies, in general, is that the people are never as important as the monsters. We go for the monsters, we want the monsters, we care about the big dudes, BUT in saying all that, we need the humans to connect to. We need them to, in some way, represent us. The humans are never going to be the draw but we do need them to matter, a very hard line to walk.
Now that we have finally reached a point where Kong and Godzilla must finally fight, we must also face that, at least in the U.S. this is going to be the swan song for these big fellas for a bit. American movie taste is strange, and what we love one day we’ll be indifferent to the next. Some of that is a quality issue but some of it is just a sort of fad-ish nature to our tastes.
Sometimes success is less a matter of whether a film is good or not but if it it’s the right fad at the right time.
Godzilla Vs. Kong cannot be called a great film in any capacity but man alive is it a fun ride. This is the sort of film I had hoped for, and that I’d wager a lot of fans hoped for. Big stakes, big action, and some surprises along the way. This is an absolutely beautiful film and that it came out during the pandemic, making it hard to legitimize going to a theater to see this, is a crime. This is striking, colorful, big, and loud. It is exactly the scope these characters deserve. Kong is given fantastic heart and depth and it’s clear pretty early that he’s the center of the film. I get it, he’s easier to connect with for humanity, but it was a shame that Godzilla was given such short shrift here. He comes to party, for sure, but, where some folks said he wasn’t in the first of the new films enough it does almost feel that way here, and again, I get it, but it is a bit of a disappointment that he’s given a very defined storyline and arc with no subtlety. I am actually surprised by how straight forward it all was, to be honest. Not that it still isn’t fun, but it’s pretty basic story stuff here.
That is where things fall on the Hmph side of the ledger.
Some of the storytelling with the humans isn’t even lazy it’s just nonexistent.
It’s not even there.
Basic stuff, like an answer to a big question that we deserve, is never addressed. Sure, it probably is in some comic or some such but that’s not fair as not everyone will go looking that far for an answer that needed to be part of the film.
The same goes for the villain in the last film, who is just absent in this one.
Heck, the villains too get the shaft as they needed to be a bigger presence here. Yes, the monsters take the stage, but we still need to feel like there’s something else going on, and we do, sort of, but it’s very thin.
As are some logical leaps, one of them as glaring as the one in Independence Day where they surmise that of COURSE humans can just plug our tech into alien tech and pass on a virus. It’s that dumb, the leap in GvK. That’s a huge drag, to be honest.
We have some fantastic actors onhand in the film, but they aren’t given a lot to work with and while they are all decent, save for a couple moments when Ms. Brown’s accent shines through, they just never were given a script or story worthy of them.
Lastly, the big turn in the film was ruined by marketing and toy releases ahead of time, lessening the impact of its reveal and, while it’s cool, it feels too obvious.
So does the bad outweigh the good?
I knew what I wanted when I came into the film and I got it.
I got big monsters and big fights. I wanted some more answers than I got, and I would have liked more surprises, but this is a very fun movie and would have played great on the big screen but still played well at home. This is not perfect, at all, and is the least of the new films, but it’s still fun and has more weird than we have seen in one of these movies in a long time. It’s not a perfect movie but I don’t think any of us expected it to be. I wanted it loud, fun, and epic and it’s definitely all of those things.
I am sorry that there won’t be more films in this universe but this is a heck of a fun way to cap things off and I am glad we got to see so many iconic monsters again in a modern film.
3.5 out of 5