Godzilla Vs. Kong
The MonsterVerse delivers the one on one brawl we’ve all been waiting for in Adam Wingard’s Godzilla Vs. Kong.
On the surface the Monstererse should be great. It tells stories about iconic Japanese monsters such as Godzilla and uses state of the art visual effects to render them in detail beyond the imagination of those who created the creatures in the first place. The reality of what has been been delivered has very much been a mixed bag. Godzilla was a disappointment that failed to live up to considerable hype, its direct sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters dialled up the scale while making many of the same mistakes as the first in greater abundance. Kong: Skull Island stands out as the strongest with a greater sense of what it’s trying to be though it is also not without some glaring flaws.
The consistent problem all of these films have is their Human characters. CGI is expensive and there needs to be a plot wrapped around the city destroying action so that there is something to invest in but there’s a consistent issue around how that time is spent. For the most part it involves various interchangeable characters standing around in bland dimly lit rooms full of screens explaining the plot to one another with some vague attempts at depths afforded to a small number of them. Such attempts are very shallow and contribute to a variety of scenes where nothing of value is happening. A good example of how to do this well is Jaws where the scenes that don’t feature the shark feature well defined characters and extensive coverage of the fascinating politics that govern the affected beachfront town. In the MonsterVerse films the non monster scenes are largely blandly written characters played by engaging actors exchanging meaningless technical jargon before they move onto the next set piece. Kong: Skull Island stands out because the characters have plenty of personality even if they have very little depth. They’re entertaining to watch so they fit into the film well.
Godzilla Vs. Kong has the character problem though it is a lot less obvious than it is in Godzilla or its sequel. The film is well paced and such scenes never linger for too long before the plot moves forward but all the same there’s no reason to care about Rebecca Hall’s Ilene, Alexander Skarsgård’s Nathan or the returning Madison (Millie Bobbie Brown). The human characters feel oddly disconnected from the main narrative despite the fact that they are engaged with it at all times. Some of that might have to do with the shift in style towards focusing on the action taking place rather than constantly cutting to the people on the ground or in the air nearby reacting to it. It’s an advantage because there’s a lot more of what people come to see but a disadvantage as it rarely feels like the people are really present let alone in any real danger. There are shades of something interesting in Jia’s (Kaylee Hottle) unique connection with Kong that is the closest the film gets to emotional resonance but it gets easily buried under too much content elsewhere to blossom in the way it needed to.
To its credit the film is built around the action rather than the human characters which is absolutely the right decision in something like this. The focus is on the various brawls between the giant monsters though the narrative does often descend into grandiose mythologising played with complete sincerity which makes for unintentionally hilarious moments delivered with complete sincerity with no contextual awareness of how ludicrous they are. It is commendable that there is an understanding that the human characters aren’t what the majority of the audience is interested in but it’s the job of those making the film to make something that will engage people and that’s not what happens here.
The action sequences are definitely worth watching. The various bouts between the titular monsters are visually stunning, impressively choreographed and full of spectacular detail though never to the point that the frame seems too busy. There are many crowd pleasing moments and the sequences don’t outstay their welcome nor is there ever too long to wait before another visual feast will be presented. Ultimately it delivers on what it promises in ways that are satisfying to watch but the imbalance between the impressive set pieces and the uninteresting human characters can’t be ignored.
A visually impressive monster mash that more than delivers on what it promises but suffers greatly from forgettable human characters. All of the MonsterVerse films have problems with their human characters and this one is no exception though to its credit the film is built around the set pieces rather than the human story so the awareness of what the audience are interested in seeing is to be commended but crafting an interesting story with characters the audience could invest in should have been a priority. The various bouts between the titular monsters are visually stunning, impressively choreographed and full of spectacular detail but never to the point that the frame seems too busy. They don’t outstay their welcome and there is never a long wait between visually impressive sequences. Ultimately the film delivers on what it promises but suffers from a massive imbalance that can’t be ignored.
- stunning visuals
- well choreographed action sequels
- impressive detail without the frame seeming too busy
- a general awareness of where the audience’s interest lies
- uninteresting human characters
- a boring story
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