Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir
Run Time: 113 mins
It is rather surreal that Godzilla vs Kong has finally arrived on our screens, even if in most cases, that is the small screen. The Toho titan duo match-up has been a long time coming and is the MonsterVerse’s culmination film, thus far. There have been two Godzilla entries, the first of which had a fantastic first half before a disappointing second, and the second, King of the Monsters, was pretty much a disaster from start to finish. Kong: Skull Island is where the cinematic universe has peaked so far, which was directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who succesfully managed to infuse the big-budget Hollywood studio structure with his signature style and some terrific visuals.
Godzilla vs Kong is directed by Adam Wingard, in what is certainly his biggest film to date. Wingard peaked in his career with You’re Next and The Guest, two excellent horror / thriller films with a John Carpenter sensibility. The story most closely follows on from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, with Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler returning as the father / daughter duo. However, Alexander Skarsgård is in the lead role here, who is a geologist and cartographer, with Rebecca Hall playing a Doctor, who is adopting a young, deaf, native orphan who forms a special bond with Kong. The human characters have mostly been on the weaker scale in all of the MonsterVerse films and it’s the monsters that audiences are really expecting to see.
Godzilla vs Kong is rather ramshackle in its construction and has a preposterous narrative. That said, it’s very entertaining, even if one must suspend belief for the majority of the run time, especially at some of the mass destruction of cities and the non-existent consequences that has. Wingard proves an assured director here, and I particularly admire how lean the film is in its run time, making it one of the more coherent entries in the franchise. The human characters aren’t great here again, with Skarsgard proving a wooden lead. Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry have the most substance out of the characters here and it’s a real shame that the talented Julian Dennison isn’t particularly well utilised. But Wingard knows not to dwell on the humans and there is plenty of punchy spectacle here.
There are some terrific visuals from cinematographer Ben Seresin, and the film has a vibrant colour mix. The score by Junkie XL is excellent, his melodic yet foreboding theme for Kong is particularly memorable.
This is certainly more of a Kong film than a Godzilla film, and it’s all the better for it, as he has far more personality. This iteration of Kong is a far cry from his origin film and also far removed from previous incarnations, but he is well developed and the idea for him to relate strongly to a character is a wise decision.
Godzilla vs Kong is ultimately more brawl than brain and isn’t particularly deep, but Adam Wingard has crafted a lean and entertaining match-up of the two titans with some spectacular visuals and arresting action sequences.