Movie review: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ offers monster mayhem and giddy fun

I love movies with rich character development, that dive deeply into the characters’ emotions and motivations. If I’m going to criticize a movie, the first things that usually come up are how the characterization is too shallow and the film focuses too much on action sequences or special effects at the expense of more nuanced moments.

That being said, when I go to watch a so-called “monster movie,” I find that I actually don’t care about all of that. It’s the one genre where I don’t really need much character development — I just want to see big monsters battling it out.

Godzilla vs. Kong definitely delivers in that department. It knows that its audience is here for some silly, over-the-top fun, and viewers don’t (or at least I don’t) care about how realistic it all is. Godzilla vs. Kong is one of those movies that makes you feel like a little kid again, sitting on the edge of your seat as you cheer for your favorite monster (I’m #TeamGodzilla, by the way).

I really appreciate that Warner Bros. released this movie in theaters and on streaming simultaneously. Godzilla vs. Kong is absolutely the sort of movie that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible (it’s worth the IMAX splurge), but in the midst of a global pandemic, that’s just not feasible for everyone. Some fans may feel comfortable going to a movie theater with masks and social distancing; others may prefer to remain at home. It’s important that entertainment companies acknowledge this and provide equality of access for fans.

This is going to end up being a rather short review because I don’t really have a lot of in-depth thoughts about this movie. That isn’t meant to reflect badly on the film. Godzilla vs. Kong offers a simple, straightforward plot without a lot of deeper themes; it’s just straight-up fun.

The highlight of the film is, unsurprisingly, the throwdowns between Godzilla and Kong. The movie does a great job showing the awe-inspiring power of these massive creatures, and the battles are of an epic scale deserving of these two titans. (Minor spoiler alert!) I had no idea Mechagodzilla was going to appear in this film, and that was a really fun surprise. I loved seeing Godzilla and Kong team up to fight this robot.

Another highlight of the film for me was seeing Kong and the team of scientists travel to the prehistoric land in the center of the earth. The cinematography is incredible in these scenes, and I loved the trippy perspective of the warring gravity, which features land masses on the ground and in the sky. I would have loved to see even more of this hidden world called “Hollow Earth,” and I assume it will appear in future films in this franchise.

As a side note, I also got a kick out of how heavily podcasting was featured in this movie. Millie Bobby Brown’s character meets up with a technician (Brian Tyree Henry) at Apex Cybernetics (the company constructing Mechagodzilla) after hearing his titan conspiracy podcast. I’m a big podcasting geek, and this side plot was a fun little addition.

I’m not sure where the Warner Bros. monster franchise will go from here. I’m definitely game for more, but at a certain point there’s only so many ways you can show monsters battling. As mentioned previously, I’d like to see them set a future film in the Hollow Earth, because it offers something cool and new we haven’t seen before.

I feel like Godzilla vs. Kong is a movie I really needed after the challenges brought by 2020. It was a big-budget popcorn flick that didn’t make me think too hard and had me grinning afterwards. I still worry about the future of Hollywood and movie theaters in a post-pandemic world, and there’s a part of me that fears if theater attendance doesn’t bounce back, we may see fewer and fewer blockbusters like this one.

Yet if this is the last titan movie we get for a while, it’s a good one to go out on.

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