Let’s see who wins.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the follow up film to the new franchise of monster movies where we finally see our two heroes (???) duke it out. No matter who wins, we lose.
After watching the movie, we asked ourselves if we’re just those people who can’t have fun. Granted, I’m probably biased in saying that I am capable of having fun because we review a lot of fun and dumb movies here. This latest entry is simply a mess.
It is hard to say what the largest issue in the film is for hurting the experience. The one that will probably be the most noticeable (and potentially gatekeeping) is the horrific sound design. Mixed with amateur hour subtitles, anyone with any sort of hearing disability is going to miss about 20% of the dialogue. With each character inexplicably whispering their lines it was hard for me to hear anything, and with subtitles skipping huge chunks of dialogue I know I lost a lot. What makes this even more egregious is we have deaf heroine Jia (Kaylee Hottle, who gives the most likable performance in the film) as the focus of the movie. For a film that seems to want to give exposure to people with disabilities they sure throw anyone hearing disabled in the audience under the bus. Whether this is the studio or HBO’s fault having such poor options for subtitles is unacceptable.
We know we’re off to a rough start when the act of consuming the narrative is painful and broken.
The story is also a convoluted mess. How any of these movies have made it passed the workshop stage without major script rewrites is beyond me. We end up with about five or six films in one, and none of them have enough time to matter. I’ll go through a couple of the threads below but remember that none of them work well.
Our largest story is led by Nathan (Alexander Skarsgard) who gets Ilene (Rebecca Hall) to agree to let him use Kong as a guide to the hollow earth. Maya is the only one Kong trusts, so Nathan needs her as well. We also get a lot of empty suits from Apex who come to dump exposition and technical mumbo-jumbo. Fine, whatever. Where this one absolutely fails is that we end up with a ton of interpersonal conflict on an expedition to an unknown land. Say it with me everyone: expeditions in contemporary times are planned down to the smallest detail and the teams are vetted to avoid these issues. NASA is an interesting comparison to bring as they work tirelessly to make sure there are no interpersonal issues during any expedition.
The nitpicking between Nathan and Maya (Eiza Gonzalez) is painfully stupid. We spend more time on how these people don’t like each other than we do with any actual fighting. (And if you’re wondering why I’m not talking about the action it is because about 80% of this film is stupid people being stupid when we’re supposed to think they’re smart).
The second largest story follows Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), who returns from the previous entry. Convinced that Apex is up to no good, Madison is obsessed with conspiracy theorist Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) who ends up being right about most of his theories. Let’s stop and unpack the stupidity of this: in 2021, after a conspiracy led insurrection on our government AND massive conspiracies that are inhibiting the deployment of a vaccine to fight a pandemic, we have a movie showing conspiracy theorists are right. This is potentially the most tone-deaf dip-shit writing I’ve seen in years.
Whether they were pandering to the conspiracy crowd or simply didn’t think about anything while writing this section we have one of the most pointless storylines in recent memory. The entirety of this section could be cut, and we would miss nothing. Due to the writing, this story is an absolute failure.
But, how are the fights?
The action, when it finally occurs, is okay. The CGI looks weird in this one. We end up watching a nice videogame more than anything else. The weirdest part about the CGI is that we can tell the creators weren’t happy with it, either. Smoke, shadows, camera glare, or quick editing make it to where getting a good look at the fight isn’t easy.
The first set-piece takes place in the ocean, where waves and flame block most of the action. We don’t have CGI used as a supplement here, it’s the star. Entire chunks of the film are animated, which makes me wonder if we should technically call this an animated film. The shiny look of everything doesn’t feel real. Coupled with the casual destruction of entire fleets (or cities) it just all feels a bit numb.
Someone is going to eventually cut the movie down to the 25-minutes of fighting we actually get, and this version will ultimately be more popular. The full-length feature is a non-movie. For a film that wants so hard to humanize our monsters it forgot that the story itself needs to have a soul.
This is easily going to be one of the worst of the year. Don’t bother.