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Movie Review: “Godzilla vs. Kong”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 3/31/2021

Theatrical Release: 3/31/2021

Synopsis

Godzilla has turned on humanity. While Godzilla has protected mankind from other titans in the past, it seems those days are over, but a podcaster named Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) has a theory as to why. Godzilla attacked a facility owned by a company called Apex. While the news around the world thinks Godzilla’s attack was random, Bernie believes Apex is up to something that angered Godzilla. He then meets up with Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and her friend Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison), and the three go on a mission to uncover Apex’s secrets.

Meanwhile, a group of scientists are studying Kong at a facility on Skull Island. Kong has developed a protective relationship with a young girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), and a scientist named Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) has been using Jia to help better understand Kong. While Godzilla is the King of Monsters and has hunted any other titan he has sensed, Kong has been shrouded by Skull Island. However, a group of scientists at Apex plan to use Kong to lead them to a power source located in the mythical place that the Titans came from, deep within the Earth. The only problem is, as soon as Kong leaves the island, Godzilla becomes aware of his presence. There can only be one King, and it is clear that neither Godzilla nor Kong have any intention of kneeling to the other.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Godzilla vs. Kong (+10pts)

Madison & The Podcaster (-4pts)

Nathan, Ilene, and Jia (+6pts)

Walter & Maia (-4pts)

Hollow Earth (+4pts)

Batman v Superman (-3pts)

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Pro: Godzilla vs. Kong (+10pts)

It is a good thing that in a movie called Godzilla vs. Kong, one of the movie’s strengths was the feud between Godzilla and Kong. Godzilla was a guardian of mankind in the two Godzilla movies, so him attacking mankind gave this movie a sense of mystery. To be fair, the mystery was pretty obvious to me almost immediately, but I am sure many people won't immediately figure it out, so the mystery will be at least somewhat interesting to them. I did think it was interesting to see mankind go from idolizing Godzilla to vilifying him, and I liked how he was still a protector, even in this somewhat antagonistic role. So while the mystery was obvious to me, I enjoyed the position it put Godzilla in.

Then there was Kong, who the filmmakers established as the good guy in this clash of Titans. Mankind needed Kong’s help, and Kong was very much the underdog in his fight against Godzilla. Both of these things made it easy to root for him, and his protective relationship with Jia gave him a lot more personality than I was expecting. The filmmakers took one monster and put him in an interesting situation, and they took the other and humanized him to make him easy to connect with. This filmmakers did a great job setting up both characters, but let us be honest, that is not what people watched this movie hoping to see. These two characters fought a few times, and these action sequences were destructive, they were heated, they were exciting, they showcased these characters various abilities and fighting styles, and they were a lot of fun.

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Con: Madison & The Podcaster (-4pts)

I did not hate this storyline, although I thought the characters had a shocking and laughably easy time sneaking into top-secret facilities. Regardless, these characters’ storylines played into the mysterious nature of Godzilla’s recent actions. The real problem I had with these characters was that they were mostly irrelevant to the events of the movie. They had no role in the Godzilla versus Kong feud throughout the movie, and while the writers wrote in a minor role for them to play in the climax of the movie, I thought it was kind of dumb. I do not want to say what that role was to avoid spoilers, but it seemed like what they did in the climax should not have had the impact that it did, and everything else they did in the movie had no impact at all.

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Pro: Nathan, Ilene, and Jia (+6pts)

These three characters were the main human protagonists of this story, on Kong's side of things. Nathan (Alexander Skarsgard) was a scientist specializing in the study of Hollow Earth. I will get into what I liked about how the filmmakers used Hollow Earth later, but one thing it did was make the character Nathan a lot more interesting than if he were just a generic scientist. I liked that the filmmakers did not try to ship Nathan and Ilene romantically, I liked Ilene's perspective as a scientist who had been studying Kong, I liked Ilene's parental relationship with Jia, and I liked Jia's relationship with Kong.

These three characters were an integral part of the rising action of this story, as they helped establish the plot of the movie and they helped humanize Kong, the monster the filmmakers clearly wanted us to root for. They were pretty much irrelevant after getting Kong where they needed to get him to, but they played an important role in getting Kong there. They also never took focus away from Kong, and instead simply added to Kong's story. It was important to have some human protagonists to give the movie a story that audiences could connect with in between the monster action, and on all accounts, I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job with these three characters.

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Con: Walter & Maia (-4pts)

These two characters were your typical one-dimensional antagonists. What was weird about this was that Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) had completely rational reasons for doing what he did. This character's motivations made sense, and his goal was something that was honestly not a bad idea by any stretch of the imagination. His whole motivations and goals were centered around the idea that humanity should not put all of their faith in Godzilla. Just because Godzilla saved us before, that did not mean Godzilla would not turn on us eventually, so his plan was to come up with a contingency plan for that possibility.

Walter could have been a really interesting antagonist, as his motivations were completely understandable, and the filmmakers could have played him off as someone who was doing the right thing, which just so happened to mean going against Godzilla. Doing this would have made us understand this character, and it would have made us think about who we should be rooting for. This could have made Walter a really interesting antagonist, but unfortunately, the filmmakers did not go that route. They instead portrayed this guy with the vibe of a mustache-twirling, one-dimensional villain, and it made him very uninteresting. Then there was his daughter Maia (Eiza Gonzalez) who was just as generically evil and one-dimensional. The filmmakers had the potential for some interesting antagonists here, but I really thought they blew it by making them as generic as they did.

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Pro: Hollow Earth (+4pts)

I think Hollow Earth theory is an absurd theory, personally, but I thought it was interesting to see how the filmmakers integrated this idea with the Titan monsters that have been popping up throughout these movies. It was interesting to see how a real-world conspiracy theory played into this story, and while I fundamentally disagree with Hollow Earth theory, I thought it gave this movie an interesting and unique perspective. We do not see Hollow Earth believers in movies very often, and when we do, they are certainly not scientists or primary characters. The filmmakers of this movie took a real-world idea and they merged it with their fictional story, and it helped ground this story in reality—as much as that could be done in a movie about two skyscraper sized monsters fighting each other—while also giving us a unique spin on the idea of Hollow Earth. Did this movie get me to buy into the conspiracy theory known as Hollow Earth? Of course not, but the filmmakers used this idea to give this movie a unique perspective that I enjoyed exploring.

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Con: Batman v Superman (-3pts)

I could not help but see the similarities between the climax of this movie and the climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The final climactic showdown ended in almost the same way, I am pretty sure Godzilla and Kong yelled "Martha" at each other before ending their fight, and then what happened after these two characters fought each other for the last time was basically the same as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie was marketed as an epic showdown between these two characters, and that was definitely what it was, but the marketing also heavily implied that one would fall—I mean the poster literally says "One Will Fall"—so to conclude this story in this way felt like somewhat of a cop out, and it also felt like I had seen this story before, and not all that long ago. Fortunately, the action in the climax was still pretty awesome, so this was not that big of a deal, but it was hard not to notice the similarities between these two movies.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (84pts)

I thought Madison and the podcast guy's storyline was mostly inconsequential, I thought the antagonists were far less interesting than they very easily could have been, and I thought the conclusion of the climactic showdown felt like a bit of a cop out. Fortunately, this movie's strengths made it a decent movie despite its issues. First, I liked the characters of Nathan, Ilene, and Jia, who each brought something different to the Kong storyline. Second, while I think Hollow Earth theory is absurd in real-life, I liked how the filmmakers used it for this story, as I thought it gave this movie a unique perspective that I enjoyed seeing explored. Finally, I really liked what the filmmakers did with the feud between the titular characters.

The filmmakers threw Godzilla in an interesting situation, as they made him be simultaneously a protagonist and antagonist. I also liked how the filmmakers handled Kong, as his relationship with the humans around him made him the obvious one to root for in this story. He was setup as the hero for mankind, when mankind thought Godzilla had turned his back on them. I liked how the filmmakers thrusted one of these monsters into an interesting, thought-provoking situation, and I liked how they humanized the other. Then there was the action between these characters which was just a lot of fun to watch on the big screen.

Comments

Caila Daniels from Chicago on April 30, 2021:

I loved this movie, not for the story but because it gave us what it promised: A big monster fight WITH a definitive finish and win! Loved it!

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