It’s silly that a movie like Godzilla vs. Kong wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. Sure, we’re well past the cut-off date, and it’s a huge stretch to assume the Academy would ever award a giant computer-rendered monkey a tiny little gold statue, but I’m officially calling this a snub. Big monkies punching giant lizards across the world is the height of cinema as far as I’m concerned. It took over 100 years of moviemaking, but the medium has officially reached its peak, and oh my is the view from the top wonderful.
To be honest, the title says it all. In one corner you have a big ape named Kong; In the other corner, you have a big lizard named Godzilla, and each wants to rip the other’s head off with their bare hands. We’re not exactly sure why they hate each other but it’s a bitter rivalry that has lasted generations and the titans have once again locked horns in an epic battle for dominance with us puny humans caught up in the middle. I don’t know what else you need to know before pressing play or sitting down in your local theatre but if you want confirmation that these big boys throw down more than once, rest assured that these block brocking beasts beat the hell out of each other every chance they get!
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“…these block brocking beasts beat the hell out of each other every chance they get!”
As seen in Godzilla: King of The Monsters (2019) giant evil creatures once again roam the earth and in an effort to protect Kong from Godzilla’s wrath, the humans have decided it best to keep him locked up in a high-tech Truman Show-style prison on Skull Island. The once benevolent Kaiju that protected humans from Titans like Rodan and King Ghidorah has mysteriously returned to wreak havoc on a research base in Florida, killing 8 people and injuring many more. His reemergences baffle all experts, but a small group of conspiracy theorists comprised of Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Julian Dennison can’t help but think Godzilla’s return has something to do with Apex Industries’ shady, secret operations.
Elsewhere, the billionaire owner of Apex Industries has recruited Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to lead an expedition into the Hollow Earth using Kong as their guide. The belief is that there is an untapped power source hidden in the Earth’s core and these corporate villains have designed a vehicle powerful enough to break through the gravitational vortex guarding this uncharted promised land. Their journey to the centre of the earth begins at the Antarctic entrance, hundreds of thousands of Godzilla-infested waters away. What could go wrong?
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Humans DO NOT matter in a giant monster movie like Godzilla vs. Kong. They are essential to moving the plot along, sure, but they’re mostly oohing and awing on the sidelines like wrestling commentators. And if there’s one thing I didn’t want getting in the way of my monster brawl, it was humans. Like ants running for safety before getting smushed by a giant foot, they scurry about underneath Kong and Godzilla as they fight on aircraft carriers in the middle of the ocean and all through the Toyko skyline.
That said, the story does find more than one ingenious opportunity to integrate humans into the mix with these rivals. Without the humans, Kong may never have returned to his home in the Hollow Earth or retrieved his big bad battle-ax. More than that, though, writers Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok) and Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) have baked in a little deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle) that helps to bring a voice to Kong. As a performer Kong has always been incredibly expressive but with the help of Jia, Kong becomes more than just a sad but proud primate, swinging and smashing his way through the jungle. It’s a genius decision and one that I can’t believe took this long. Godzilla, on the other hand, is still sporting his patented mean-mug at every opportunity, grinning and growling with prehistoric gusto.
It’s easy to get lost in the multi-million dollar fight sequences of the Marvel or Transformers universe but every blow, every single tail whip in Godzilla vs Kong is crystal clear and brilliantly “photographed”. Michael Dougherty put the monsters on full display in Godzilla: King of The Monsters (2019), but Adam Wingard places the perspective of these fights in one brilliant shot after another. In some instances, it’s as though we’re a helpless human trapped on the ground below, looking up in awe at these unbelievably tall monsters duking it out. In other moments we’re given Kong POV as he grabs Godzilla by his scaly collar with both hands. There are even classic call-back shots of little silhouetted humans scurring in the foreground while those hulking boys grapple with each other in the background. TLDR; The fight sequences in Godzilla vs. Kong are so kickass that for a short time, I completely forgot about how bad the last year has been. Turns out my happy place is watching a mean monkey and a rambunctious reptile roughhousing in a dust-covered, neon-soaked Tokyo.
All I wanted was for these super smash foes to become super smash bros, and while we’re probably never going to see these two kiss on-screen (alas!) I think we’ve finally been given the Godzilla vs Kong movie this generation needed. I love a good, gloomy adaptation but I can’t help but smile every time I see these big boys together and Godzilla vs. Kong is a fist-pumping good time. Sure, some of the characters could have been completely written out and a lot of the tech is highly questionable but I didn’t come to ask questions. I came to see these muscle-bound monsters settle a centuries-old score. Godzilla vs. Kong is blockbuster filmmaking at its finest and proof that these characters are going nowhere. It’s Kong and Zilla’s world, we’re just living in it.
“It’s Kong and Zilla’s world, we’re just living in it.”
Godzilla vs. Kong smashes into theatres and onto demand March 31st. Are you Team Kong or Team Godzilla? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT 3RD ACT REVEAL?!?? Share all your (spoiler-free) thoughts and opinions with us over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.