Godzilla vs Kong

Director: Adam Wingard

Operating time: 113 minutes

As a fan of the early Godzilla films and the many updates to the Godzilla universe since its inception, I absolutely had to see the new Godzilla All Kong. I had several predictions for this movie: first, of course, that there would be enough CGI to make my eyes bleed; second, that several WWE fight moves would be ridiculously incorporated into the movie; and third, that we would get to see Mechagodzilla.

While this all turned out to be true, the film did not suffer. The last two films in the new iteration of Godzilla have honestly been a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed the more serious depiction of Godzilla, which reminded me of the original Ishirō Honda classic, a film I saw on the big screen and still hold in my hands. Inside, it was the same scientific angle and a great transition into the monster world with my favorite monsters: Mothra and the King of Gidgidor. I expected Godzilla All Kong (directed by Adam Wingard of DeathNote and Your Next) to be built with the same furniture, but this film deviated from what I liked about the previous films and fell more into the campy charm of the 60s/70s Godzilla films.

Godzilla’s 70s era is not without merit. The movies are fun, full of monster hunters and scientists who, after 10-20 attempts to learn more about the beasts, seem to be as close to taming or defeating Godzilla as Tony Abbott is to earning his beloved knighthood. The original 1962 Godzilla All Kong was very similar, and this new version of the story pays homage to the original with the music choices and fight scene choreography.

The new film opens with Kong awakening to a paradisiacal idyll on a sunny island, and he plays in Bobby Winton’s dreamy montage of Over the Mountain, Across the Sea. The film then returns to reality when he visits his girlfriend, a deaf and orphaned girl, Jia (Caylee Hottle). At this point, viewers realize that this island home is actually a sophisticated containment system.

In search of Godzilla, he decides to appear in Florida and destroy a technology factory (Apex Cybernetics) run by corrupt CEO Walter Simmons (Damian Bichir). His mustache immediately indicates that he is up to no good. The world is confused as to why Godzilla is attacking civilians when he was an ally in the fight against the other Kaiju creatures. To solve the mystery, a team consisting of podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), Mark and Emma Russell’s daughter Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), and comedy character Josh (Julian Dennison) come together to figure out why Godzilla has suddenly changed his behavior.

Now that the movie has established Team Godzilla, it’s time to put together Team Kong.

Apex CEO Walter Simmons decides to recruit mad scientist and local Hollow Earth theorist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) for a mission to travel to the center of the Earth and find the source that gives Godzilla his powers. Nathan happens to know Kong’s expert, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), who works with Kong and is Jia’s adoptive mother. He asks her for help and uses his relationship with Kong to persuade the great ape to act as his guide to the Void Land. Ilene fears that if Kong leaves the building, Godzilla will sense his presence and a fight will break out.

Now that the two teams are set up, the rest of the film consists of CGI fight scenes, a race against time and the appearance of an even scarier opponent.

Let’s face it: compared to earlier versions of these stories, the bar for special effects is very low. I remember the destruction of a building made of painted toothpicks in a Godzilla movie, as well as many variations of all the feverish kaiju dolls over the years. One of my favorites is this stellar exhibit A: The son of Godzilla.

The CGI is actually very well done, and the fight scenes offer both action and comedy. I especially liked the part where King Kong jumped out of a Lethal Weapon-like explosion, but I digress. Go see this movie if you like monsters and action, but don’t expect character development and don’t expect something as serious as Godzilla : King of the Monsters of Godzilla 2014.

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