THE CN+R REVIEW

Familiar arc of Godzilla vs. Kong brings dumb fun, just without the ‘fun’

BY NEIL MORRIS, CN+R Film Critic
Posted 4/9/21

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is essentially a remake of “Batman vs. Superman” if it was directed by Michael Bay. There is a Lex Luthor, a Doomsday laced with the DNA of a former foe, a …

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THE CN+R REVIEW

Familiar arc of Godzilla vs. Kong brings dumb fun, just without the ‘fun’

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“Godzilla vs. Kong” is essentially a remake of “Batman vs. Superman” if it was directed by Michael Bay. There is a Lex Luthor, a Doomsday laced with the DNA of a former foe, a Lois Lane, a “kryptonite” armament, and even a blaring Junkie XL soundtrack (alas, Martha, err, Mothra was in the last Godzilla flick). And then there’s the titular clash of fictional icons until contrivance convinces them that they oughta team up.

All that is crammed into a Bay-esque melange of harried subplots, hokey wisecracks, and half-baked humans. But like Bay’s “Transformers” films, we are just here to see the terabytes tangle, and like Bay’s “Transformers” films, even that gets old quickly.

Back on Skull Island, King Kong has been confined to an enormous man-made biosphere because, well, he might swim away? Oh, and Kong now knows sign language because, well, reasons. Meanwhile, Godzilla has left everyone alone for five years until he gets in his feelings because a cybernetics tycoon (Demián Bichir) is constructing a metallic doppelganger — yep, you guess it, Mechagodzilla.

Scientist de jure (Alexander Skarsgård) is convinced that a McGuffin buried deep underground is the key to stopping Godzilla’s pique. So he, the monkey’s minder (Rebecca Hall), and a mute, pink-sized Kong whisperer (Kaylee Hottle) lead an Antarctic expedition that segues into Hollow Earth. Meanwhile, a podcaster links up with college kid Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) to kill some screen time. Both Brown and Kyle Chandler reprise their roles from “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the previous entry in the Legendary Entertainment’s “MonsterVerse” franchise, although Chandler’s sum contribution comprises popping up every half-hour or so to stare into space with a look of awe/befuddlement. 

When I was 7 years old, I read a 1978 edition of “The Brave and the Bold” comic book series in which Batman fought Aquaman. Aquaman got the best of Batman when they battled in the ocean, and Batman came out on top once they reached dry land. That’s basically the arc of Kong and Godzilla’s tête-à-têtes, before they decide to just get along.

Look, I like giant Goliaths banging into each other as much as the next guy. But Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s “Kong: Skull Island” showed us how to marry an effects-driven spectacle with slick film making developed human characters, and a cheekiness to let us know that the filmmakers are in on the joke. “Godzilla vs. Kong” makes the oft-made mistake of taking itself too seriously. It aims to be dumb fun, but it forgot the second part.

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