This century’s tallest franchise comes roaring to a halt with Godzilla vs. Kong, the long-mooted monster mashup where stupidity clashes with inevitability.
Five years after Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Kong is living under the affectionate protection of Dr. Ilene Andrews (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love King Kong). When Godzilla attacks a cybernetics facility, Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) asks Andrews (Rebecca Hall) to let them use Kong to guide them through his homeworld in the Hollow Earth in order to extract a power source needed to defeat Godzilla. Neglecting her duty of care she agrees, and before you can say “wait, what?” a giant monkey is punching a radioactive lizard in the face.
Godzilla vs. Kong circumvents some of the problems of its predecessors (Kong: Skull Island‘s annoying characters, King of the Monsters‘ nonsensical plot) by featuring neither characters nor plot. This makes it insubstantial even compared to the rest of the series, but also easier to ignore. The total absence of backstory speaks eardrum-bursting volumes about the sheer lack of information contained in any of the prequels, since everything you need to know going into this creature feature is contained in the title. The result is visually overwhelming yet totally uninvolving.
Not so much a film as a series of CGI set-pieces strung together by actors so talented they actually manage to keep a straight face (Brian Tyree Henry, Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler), the abnormal action swings between mecha monsters, neon cityscapes and the obligatory deaf child (Kaylee Hottle). It is all utterly bananas, like a recut version of 2001: A Space Odyssey where the monkeys end up going to space. The comic tone is worlds away from Godzilla‘s grey seriousness, but that’s not to say it’s funny (unless you count the word “Titanus”).
The movie smacks of “let’s get this over with,” though it should be seen on a big screen if at all (a Titan-sized “if”). Even King Kong is reduced to Footsoldier Kong, happy to serve his human captors despite the existential risk. In the complete corruption of their characters he and Godzilla are united as creatures originally designed to teach us something about humanity, now used by humans as weapons with no regard for the consequences. If you can just destroy the monster you created using a bigger monster, the only limitation is the size of the screen.