When the King of the Monsters meets King Kong, there’s going to be a fight. Well there should be, as the Legendary Monsterverse has been building to this since 2014, and across four films. Finally we get to see the clash of the titans, as Japan’s favourite skyscraper-sized radioactive lizard throws down against the iconic great ape.
After the Titan rampage of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the world has rebuilt and known relative peace. Part of the reason for this is Monarch hiding a second Alpha Titan from Godzilla, Kong. When Godzilla unexpectedly attacks America, the Apex Cybernetics company decides to mount an expedition to the hollow earth to find a weapon to use against the monster. To do this it needs to use a Titan to guide them, and removes Kong from the safety of Skull Island. With two Alpha Titans loose in the world it’s bound to lead to conflict, but Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) suspects Godzilla’s attack may point to something more sinister.
This second meeting for the two giants of monster cinema (the first being Toho’s 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla) is candy coloured crazy kaiju carnage. Director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) keeps this moving at a hectic place, never allowing audiences to get bored between the kaiju …sorry, Titans’ (as the series insists on calling the giant monsters) battles. The plot is mashed together from mad conspiracy theories and Heisei era Godzilla lore, but makes sense in the genre. Hell, the phrase “hollow earth” isn’t even in the top five crazy things to happen to the Big G.
Wingard realizes this, and never gets lost in the pretentiousness that dragged down both Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019), instead creating popcorn fare. He even stages the fights more like an action film, bringing the camera in close to see the blow land, and the reaction on the combatant’s face. The result is an entertaining ride, from the jungle of Skull Island, to the neon streets of Hong Kong, with some inventive and interesting set pieces in between.
Godzilla vs Kong is a little overstuffed due to this frantic pace and convoluted plot, and despite the almost two hour run time, the early section is thick with exposition. As such, there is little time to breathe and allow character development, leaving some of those characters underutilised. Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Julian Dennison, probably fare the worst for this, and never really gel as a team exploring the mysteries behind Godzilla’s sudden attack on humanity. The Kong crew have more luck, with Kaylee Hottle effectively being able to bring out the humanity and empathy associated with Kong.
However, as any kaiju fan can tell you, you’re not watching this film for the humans, it’s all about the monster fights, and from its first brawl between the two titans on the deck of an aircraft carrier, this film delivers that sense of fun and joy.