VOD film review: Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
Godzilla vs Kong8
Ivan Radford | On 01, Apr 2021
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Kaylee Hottle, Brian Tyree Henry, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Shun Oguri
Where to watch Godzilla vs Kong online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / CHILI / Microsoft Store / BT TV
Sometimes, you stick on a movie to laugh. Sometimes, you press play on a thoughtful meditation on the nature of human existence. Sometimes, you just want to see two gigantic monsters hitting each other. Godzilla vs Kong delivers on that last one. And then some.
The film follows in the wake of Gareth Edwards’ awestruck Godzilla, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ vivid and violent Kong: Skull Island and Michael Dougherty’s visually majestic Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Running through this MonsterVerse from producers Legendary Pictures is not just an enthusiastic mix of world-building and creature chaos, but a surprisingly consistent tone that balances wonder and things being smashed by things five times their size. It’s the kind of spectacle that cinema of a certain type was made for, and any kaiju fan worth their radioactive salt will not be disappointed.
We pick up with Kong as he’s king of his own containment facility, pining for home and freedom – but is roped into a mission to help fend off Godzilla, after the once-friendly reptile turns against humankind. Of course, things aren’t as they appear, and a conspiracy unfolds that any seasoned blockbuster viewer will see coming several miles off. But while there’s a mechanical familiarity to the monstrous plotting, that’s not why anyone is tuning in – and screenwriters Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok) and Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island) know it. Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, the pair behind King of the Monsters, rewrote bits of the script to smooth the transition between sequels, but where the previous outing effectively distilled the emotional stakes of the human drama to a simple family divide, Godzilla vs Kong smartly leans on that back-story to reduce the human part to something almost irrelevant, upping the screen time for the big boys instead.
In the wrong hands, that could lead to a bloated, loud affair, but director Adam Wingard (You’re Next) has just the right mix of flair and fun, never missing an opportunity to craft some gorgeous, neon-lit carnage. A sequence that dives into the hollow Earth theories already sown by the franchise manages to veer from Jules Verne-worth imagination to 2001: A Space Odyssey-style hallucinogenics, while still finding time for colossal fisticuffs.
There’s a moral in there somewhere, but in the purest form possible, courtesy of Demián Bichir’s ambitious corporate CEO, who longs to tap into the radioactive energy powering these beasts. Along the way, Alexander Skarsgård gives good square-jawed charisma as geologist Nathan Lind, Rebecca Hall brings brains and concern to her compassionate primatologist, while her daughter (the scene-stealing Kaylee Hottle) communicates with Kong through sign language – a touch that gives the furry guy even more personality and humanity than in his last screen outing.
In between them all, Millie Bobby Brown returns as teen activist Madison and teams up with a conspiracy-spouting podcaster (Brian Tyree Henry), but the movie is in no doubt who the stars of the show are, and it’s testament to how well choreographed the punch-ups are that they allow Kong and Godzilla to spark some genuine chemistry and flash some personality. A brief shot of Kong on a gigantic throne teases intriguing myths while Godzilla wears his radioactive power with a swaggering confidence, and whether they’re duking it out on a boat or amid skyscrapers, there’s a thrill to seeing them collide – and not just because Kong gets to a wield a nifty prehistoric axe. Paced quickly without pausing for heavy-handed exposition, the result is a good old-fashioned brawl that doesn’t beat you around the head but has you cheering on every blow.