Saturday, April 3, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong - A Monster Flick That Is Pure Escapism

Let's admit it. When one goes to watch a movie called “GODZILLA vs. KONG”, one should not be expecting much other than a massive showdown between two alpha titans.

It does not matter if you are Team Godzilla or Team Kong. The payoff for having the two monsters get into a loud, messy fisticuff is quite a thrill.

The CGI is great for some parts, and generic for most of it. However, it is the camera work that takes you on a visceral ride while Godzilla and Kong engage in their smash and bash. For a few seconds, you are up close and personal with Kong as his eye stares right into a space-age travel pod, or you are placed in the middle of the melee, as your line of sight swerving around angry monsters in the heart of central Hong Kong. It seems that director Adam Wingard had tailor-made the scenes for an amusement park ride.

As for the plot, er... what plot? The paper-thin narrative is as bland as steamed broccoli even though there are capable actors like Alexander Skarsgård as Nathan Lind, a researcher about something called Hollow Earth, and Rebecca Hall as the Kong Whisperer, Dr. Ilene Andrews. Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown return in this franchise instalment as father and daughter, Monarch scientist Dr. Mark Russell and Madison Russell respectively. There is also Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie, a manic investigator about kaijus, whose podcasts capture the attention of Madison, and Julian Dennison as Madison's good friend Josh Valentine, who turns out to be the MVP of the movie.

Adding to the frantic monster rumble is an organisation called Apex, owned by an egoistical villain named Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir). Walter wants to take credit for saving the world from Godzilla, and he has a plan in mind. His actions have antagonised the atomic breath-spewing King of Monsters from his ocean home, and after leaving mankind in peace for about 5 years, Godzilla blasts a surprise attack on Apex base at Pensacola, Florida.

Nathan Lind and Dr. Ilene team up to get Kong back to his ancestral home in the mystical Hollow Earth, where there is supposed to be an energy source powerful enough to protect the world from Godzilla. The movie is definitely skewed toward the giant ape, allowing him several scenes with human-like gestures like yawning or subtle changes in eye expressions. As a side quest, Team Madison, Bernie and Josh are in a hurry to find the source of King G's sudden aggressive behaviour.

The humans in “GODZILLA vs. KONG” are mostly relegated to a lot of nonsensical dialogue and superfluous scenes that are absent of genuine emotion. The exceptions are the lovely quiet interactions between Jia (Kaylee Hottle), Dr. Ilene's adopted deaf daughter, and Kong, who has taken to the girl and has learned how to communicate with her through sign language. (By the way, Red Dot Diva thinks Kaylee is just soooooo adorable!) Plus, the collateral damage caused by the massive monster battles is just insane! Do we know how many people have perished in Hong Kong? Where are the governments in all of these?

The lack of consideration for human kind is so insane, that it takes little effort to suspend all disbelief, and just go with the punches. After all, there are kaijus thrashing one another on screen!

Without giving too much away for those who have managed to avoid spoilers up till now, the third act brings another player (thanks to Apex) into a dazzling battle of the behemoths, which provides the audience an opportunity to root for Godzilla for a change.

GODZILLA vs. KONG” is 1 hour and 53 minutes of pure escapism, and an enjoyable tribute to both beloved iconic creatures who each have their own massive fanbase. It is also far more spectacular than its predecessor “GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS” (2019). No wonder it has achieved Number 1 in the local box office for two weeks in a row. The film has raked in over USD 150 million in box office takings worldwide, making this one of the biggest box office hits during a pandemic.

The movie teases some interesting ideas about the Hollow Earth and its other nasty creatures, Kong's awesome weapon, and the possibility that Godzilla and Kong may meet up again. Hopefully, in the next movie (if there is one), the writers will be able to infuse better characterisation, dialogue and motivation for the humans, which will take the Monsterverse to a whole 'nother level!

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