The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
In the interest of full-disclosure, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is not usually the type of film I’m known to seek out. While I try to keep an open mind about every film, which I believe is one of the most vital parts of being a film critic, there are certain genres that are not my cup of tea. On paper, however, this film had a lot of good things going for it: Adam Wingard (“You’re Next,” “Blair Witch“ and “The Guest”) as director, a stellar cast, and a concept which was ripe for a 21st century upgrade. In the end, I’m glad I watched it because I can say I’ve seen it, but my feelings about most big blockbuster science fiction movies remain unchanged.
The major problem with the film lies in the severely unwritten and undeveloped characters we are spending time with here. With five writers attached to the film in some way, I’m not quite sure how they overlooked such an important aspect. Perhaps they were too focused on the main event stars of Godzilla and King Kong. When you have actors like Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Demián Bichir and even Kyle Chandler, they need to be more fleshed-out. There is a lot of talk in this movie, but not a lot of it means anything or amounts to much.
Keep in mind, I barely remember any “Godzilla” or “King Kong” films, so I can’t vouch for how it holds up compared to older versions or how faithful it is. I know it is big with a lot of genre fans. In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” King Kong is being watched very closely by Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), an expert on all things Kong, linguistics and anthropology. She has an adopted hearing-impaired daughter named Jia she looks after who is played brilliantly by Kaylee Hottle. Much like Ilene, King Kong feels a special bond with young Jia. Jia and Ilene Andrews sign to one another, and Jia is able to describe when Kong is scared or angry. Kong takes care of Jia in his own sweet, fatherly way.
There is also another side-story which is completely unnecessary and all over the map involving a conspiracy theorist podcaster played by Brian Tyree Henry. He’s a tremendous actor with great range, and he is a true force on the hit FX show “Atlanta,” but here he’s unfunny and just silly. While comic relief can be necessary at times, in a film like this it feels so forced by the screenwriters. It’s not his fault the dialogue written for him is flat out lame. He’s doing the best he can with a really bad script. Two young teenagers played by Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison join him in his quest to find out why Godzilla is acting so strangely. It just seemed a bit odd to have a grown man running around with two teenagers. In today’s day and age of children being safe on the Internet, it’s just not a good idea to put in a film.
There is also Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), another Kong expert much like Ilene with vast experience in maps and geology. He’s a bit of a goofball, and at times his performance feels goofy and like he’s hamming it up. Once again, I’m going to blame the writers. Of course, there are evil mustache-twirling villains in the film who are once again overplayed, and they just ruin the film. Even though I’m putting a lot of blame on the writers, as actors can only deliver their lines as written, maybe they could have brought something a little extra to the proceedings. It would have been nice if the actors at least tried to make something out of this mess.
As for the battle scenes with Godzilla and Kong, they are pretty forgettable. While I’m a huge fan of director Wingard, I can’t help but wonder if he was really the right guy for this project. He’s mostly known for horror films, and this is not to say he can’t branch out and try different genres. Visually and stylistically, I don’t think he brought a whole lot to the film. It has a lot going on from start to finish, but it jumps back and forth between characters, stories and events. There are things to like in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” but they are few and far between.
* ½ out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “Godzilla vs. Kong” is released on a two-disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. The combo pack also comes with a digital copy of the film as well. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language. It has a running time of 113 minutes.
Audio and Video Info: The film is presented in 1080p High Definition. The audio is Dolby Atmos True HD: English, Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio, English, Spanish, and French. It also has subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
Kong Discovers Hollow Earth
Kong Leaves Home
Behold Kong’s Temple
The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World
The Phenomenon of GŌJIRA, King of the Monsters
Round One: Battle at Sea
Round Two: One Will Fall
Titan Tag Team: The God and the King
The Rise of MechaGodzilla
Commentary by Director Adam Wingard
Should You Buy It?
I’m so disappointed to have to give this film such a negative review and rating. I don’t think you should buy it, and I don’t even think it’s worth a rental. Maybe I’m not the audience for this film. I can recognize and acknowledge that. If you like these types of films, maybe you will enjoy “Godzilla vs. Kong,” but I found it laborious and quite tedious. I received very little enjoyment out of it. I will say there are plenty of special features on this Blu-ray Combo Pack. So, if you did enjoy this film and are a fan of Godzilla and King Kong, maybe you will see in the film what I didn’t. I’ll say this, if you were not a fan of these two superstar monsters before watching this movie, I don’t think you will become a fan after watching it. There isn’t much to hang your hat on here.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.