Review: “Godzilla vs. Kong”

Abigail Larson

On March 31,  “Godzilla vs. Kong” was released as the fourth film in Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse. The idea of a film including both Godzilla and Kong was made public in October of 2015, and filming began in 2018. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 release back until this spring.
The film was released both in theaters and on HBO Max and became HBO Max’s most successful release yet with more than 3.6 million households streaming the movie in the first five days after its release, according to Samba TV, an application that collects data from smart TVs.
In an effort of full disclosure, I want to give a brief disclaimer about the nature of this review.
This review comes from the perspective of someone who has never seen a movie from the Monsterverse before. For the first five minutes of the film, I was under the impression that the large ape on the screen was Godzilla. It wasn’t until my friend politely informed me that the gorilla, in fact, was King Kong that I knew any different. I am not deep into the lore of the universe and won’t be able to offer intelligent criticisms of any hidden easter eggs there may be, however, I can critique the film as a stand-alone movie. With that being said, consider this a review from the outside perspective.
The movie features multiple storylines all connected through the problem that Godzilla was disturbed and became violent after being peaceful for some time. In order to figure out why Godzilla had started attacking again, scientists used Kong to locate Hollow Earth where the key to stopping Godzilla apparently lied. Only later did they find out that there was an entirely different reason that Godzilla was acting out, which they then had to figure out how to stop.
I’m intentionally being vague to prevent spoiling the plot, but also because the plot still confuses me. Though it made a little more sense after it was explained by a friend, the number of characters and sides of the story seem to prevent a solid understanding of what’s happening in the moment. There are scientists, but not all of them are on the same team, and some are good and some are evil, some have feelings and others are heartless, and then for some reason, they threw Millie Bobby Brown in there.
Perhaps I could have enjoyed her character, or any of the characters, better if they actually took the time to give them a backstory. Unfortunately, though, it seems as if every character was only budgeted four seconds of meaningful personality before they had to hop back into their archetypal shoes.
The only character that stood out to me was Jia, a little girl who had a special bond with Kong and could communicate with him using sign language. The highlights of the movie were the scenes where they interacted, but the depth of Jia’s character really accentuated the lack of actual personality in everyone else.
Besides the characters and unnecessary storylines, there were also very specific problems I had with certain parts of the movie. Why was it so easy to convince the scientist in charge of Kong to move him across the country and risk his safety to try to find Hollow Earth? I’m not saying she should have never agreed to it, but she thought about it for all of five seconds.
Similarly, why was it such a difficult task to find and get to Hollow Earth if Godzilla can shoot a hole through the ground directly to it? They went through such a process getting down there, a process that looked very painful, only for them to pop back up through a hole created by Godzilla at the end. What happened to all of the rainbow lights and drama of passing through to a new dimension?
Also, in regard to the completely unnecessary storyline with Millie Bobby Brown, why would the characters trust an edgy high schooler so easily? Especially considering that the person she’s trying to gain the trust of, Bernie, is a hardcore conspiracy theorist who apparently showers in bleach. Much like with the scientist, it just makes absolutely no sense why they would trust this person at all, but especially so quickly.
I will warn you that the ending is just as frustrating as these plot holes. The resolution takes about thirty seconds once they figure out how to fix their problems, and much like the rest of the movie, the solution was disappointing.
Though I hated most characters and fully believe the story could have been accomplished with only two storylines, it wasn’t the worst movie I’d ever seen. The visual aspect never seemed to disappoint, a big feat considering how much CGI the movie had to use.
If you can look past the two-dimensional characters and their illogical choices, it’s not a terrible movie. As long as you can turn your brain off, watching two giant monsters duke it out can be somewhat entertaining, and maybe it means more to those who keep up with the Monsterverse. Still, if you don’t have strong feelings about the universe already, this film won’t give you any. In that case, I would suggest finding another movie to devote your time.