Movie Review: 'Godzilla vs. Kong' has epic battle sequences in a film that lacks focus

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

Two legendary movie monsters face-off in the new film “Godzilla vs. Kong.” 

As expected, the battles between King Kong and Godzilla here are epic in scale and well executed, and should please fans of both movie franchises. 

If you want to see two movie monster titans punching at each other with ferocity and lots of screaming people running for their lives as a major city is trashed, this is the movie for you. 

If you want a film with compelling characters and original storytelling, you may want to look elsewhere. Despite its technical achievements, “Godzilla vs. Kong," while not terrible, is not overly compelling.  

This is the fourth film in the new MonsterVerse series, which began with 2014’s Godzilla, and continued with the 2017 flick Kong: Skull Island, and the 2019 movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters. 

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“Godzilla vs. Kong,” opens with Kong being kept within a giant dome on Skull Island. Kong has close ties with a young resident of Skull Island named Jia, (Kaylee Hottle), the last living human native on the island. Kong expert Ilene Andrews,(Rebecca Hall) has adopted her. Jia is deaf and communicates with Kong via sign language. 

There is a character called Bernie Hayes, (Brian Tyree Henry), an employee of Apex Cybernetics. He hosts a Titan conspiracy theory podcast, and believes there is, surprise, surprise, surprise, sinister activities at a Pensacola, Florida facility he works at. While he is in the middle of collecting evidence, who arrives on the scene to kick butt and takes names but the one and only Godzilla. The big scaly fella wreaks havoc, of course, it’s his thing after all, and leaves the facility decimated. So, does Godzilla sense Apex is up to no good? The answer will not surprise you, I think. All I will say is that Godzilla does not like competition. To him, the world is only big enough for one Godzilla.   

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OK, in another story thread, Apex CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir), recruits Nathan Lind, (Alexander Skarsgård), a Hollow Earth theorist, to guide a crew into the Hollow Earth, the home world of the Titans. The Hollow Earth is located deep in the center of the Earth and is like Skull Island. So, Nathan is able to grab Kong, Jia and Ilene, as they travel to an outpost in Antarctica that will lead them to the Hollow Earth. 

"Godzilla vs. Kong" does have wonderfully executed monster battles. I liked the initial battle between Kong and Godzilla in the middle of the ocean with battleships getting thrashed. Visually, the film is to be commended. It’s just that too many scenes involving humans felt like filler. I did like that they did try in parts to draw some interesting characters. I liked the relationship between Jia, Ilene and Kong. I thought it was touching and added an interesting dynamic to the story. To me, this relationship could have taken center stage instead of numerous plots and subplots fighting for screen time. Some subplots and characters could have been greatly reduced or removed altogether, which would have strengthened the film. 

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The villains, of course, act like they are good at first, but the way they behave was like a giant flashing sign behind them shouting, “I’m a bad guy with diabolical ulterior motives, despite the good guys thinking I’m on their side.” The villains are really not very interesting and just serve the purpose of moving the story forward as overused plot devices.

“Godzilla vs. Kong "is not a bad movie, it just left me indifferent. I liked parts of it, but overall, it just was not my type of film. I will say that if you are a fan of this series, I would say you will likely enjoy it. 

Grade: C plus. 

“Godzilla Vs. Kong” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language. 

It is now streaming online on HBO MAX and is playing in theatres. It is playing in Siskiyou County at Mt. Shasta Cinema, which is currently open Friday-Sunday. 

Run time: 1 hour 53 minutes.