It’s a battle seven years in the making with CGI behemoths Godzilla and King Kong finally facing off in the aptly titled “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and the blockbuster mostly delivers.
The action-packed, special effects-laden smackdown goes all-in on letting fans get what they want, watching these two iconic monsters fight – a lot.
But this fourth film in the monster-verse world – two Godzilla films and “King Kong: Skull Island” – has to at least try to add a story to set up the battle.
In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” we get two separate plot threads.
In one thread, Kong is in a remote research facility being studied by a scientist named Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall). She sees Kong as this big old softie, capable of interacting with humans – especially Andrews’ hearing-impaired adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle).
When the founder of a big tech company (Demián Bichir) seeks Kong to guide his team to a remote location in Antarctica to get the final piece for his latest project – he enlists the help of a soldier named Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to go to Andrews and convince her to turn Kong over to them at least temporarily.
In another plot thread, Godzilla has resurfaced with an attack on the Florida coast. And while his latest appearance appears to be an attack, Madison Russell (Millie Bobbie Brown) – the teenage girl who bonded with the giant lizard in the previous film – her friend Josh (Julian Dennison) and the host of a conspiracy podcast (Brian Tyree Henry) set out on a quest to prove something, or someone, provoked the attack.
To his credit, director Adam Wingard does a nice job of going back and forth in the stories, even if the Kong stuff is way more enjoyable than the Godzilla story.
The Godzilla plot thread suffers from the same things that made the previous Godzilla film so painful to watch – it is way too much of humans talking and not enough of monsters smashing things up.
Perhaps that is because the fundamental problem with Godzilla compared to Kong is he just isn’t as interesting. There is a campy charm to the Kong story, with the primate capable of interacting in ways that gives him an almost human element.
That’s not to say the Kong stuff isn’t without its faults.
Hall, Skarsgard and Hottle are all good but also take a back seat to its large co-star quite often.
It all builds to a battle between the two title characters that starts in the ocean and continues in a stunning sequence in Hong Kong that should be seen on the biggest screen possible – if you can do it safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Once the big boys start fighting, “Godzilla vs. Kong” rises to another level – a totally immersive bit of escapism that gives action fans what they want in as big of a way as possible.