Godzilla vs. Kong review: somehow even dumber than you could ever imagine
The ultimate monster mash is available to watch at home this week.
Ever since 2014's take on Godzilla was accused of being too serious, the folks behind this new monster-mash universe have been swerving all over the place in an effort to course correct. 2017's Kong: Skull Island maybe the only time that the level of bonkers action and zig-zagging tone actually seemed somewhat balanced, as 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters continued even further away from any attempts at seriousness.
You might be thinking "This is a movie about a big lizard and a big monkey punching lumps out of each other, how serious do you expect it to be??", and that is a very fair question. But when Godzilla vs. Kong doesn't take anything seriously, it becomes immensely difficult to care about anything you're watching.
The movie kicks off with Godzilla randomly attacking a science station, apparently without warning or reason, and world leaders are now worried that the planet's defender has finally turned on humanity. In a series of logic leaps that defy, well, logic, billionaire inventor (Demian Bichir) recruits an author (Alexander Skarsgard) to assist a primate specialist (Rebecca Hall) in secretly moving Kong from Skull Island to Antarctica, where a large hole can bring them down through the Hollowed Earth, in the hopes he'll naturally know his way around, and specifically NOT get into a fight with Godzilla. (Note: this the is exact course of action that eventually CAUSES the fights with Godzilla, but moving on...)
Yeah, after visiting the sunken city - and then nuking it from existence - in King of the Monsters, this time we spend most of the movie's run-time making our way towards the centre of the Earth, and then discovering it is basically the Land Before Time down there. The best part is that barely anybody in the movie blinks an eyelid at its discovery.
Meanwhile, back on the surface, some returning characters (Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler) and some new ones (Julian Dennison, Brian Tyree Henry) are attempting to uncover why Godzilla has gotten violent all of a sudden. Their sleuthing scenes are absolutely maddening to watch, as they manage to get into some top-secret bases all over the world, simply by, y'know, opening doors. No cameras, no codes, no scanners, nothing like that. According to this movie, you could make it into the Pentagon if you just stay quiet enough.
The whole thing is absolutely aching for just a fraction of the earnestness that the 2014 version of Godzilla had, just to put a bit of weight behind the proceedings, so we can actually feel invested in anything or anyone on screen. Instead, scenes just happen, and people just do things, not because of common sense or believability, but because that is what the movie needs them to do for the story to keep going. The author guy can suddenly fly a cutting-edge hovercraft, not because he has any training, but because everyone else is dead, and he needs to be the hero. A little mute girl can communicate with Kong with sign language, so she's now front-and-centre for every big action scene going forward, mostly so the audience might care that she survives.
Those action scenes, when they do arrive, are..... fine. The big punch-up at sea, which has been at the centre of most of the trailers, is pretty fun, mainly because it feels to be the only time that director Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) seems to come alive. Elsewhere, it is mostly more of the same Skyscrapers-As-Collateral-Damage-For-Monster-Fights we've seen done to death very recently not just in the last two Godzilla movies, but also in Rampage and the two Pacific Rim movies. See one city flattened by giant creatures, you've seen them all.
There is one twist to the plot - and if you've even the slightest passing interest or awareness of Godzilla lore, then you already know what it is - which threatens to elevate the fun level to at least match the stupidity, but the movie doesn't know what to do with it, beyond have it be the cause for a few more exploding skyscrapers.
We never thought we'd say this, but we miss the time when Hollywood took a giant radioactive lizard too seriously.
The movie premiere of Godzilla vs. Kong will be available to rent at home from Thursday, 1 April.
Clip via Warner Bros. UK & Ireland