They did it, they really did it. Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment got the greatest monsters of the East and the West and did it well. Gareth Edward’s “Godzilla” (2014) and Michael Dougherty’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019) set up the landscape for the Monsterverse by bringing into an epic, modern setting the Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast,” notably the Japanese genre of giant creatures—usually actors in rubber suits destroying miniatures—wreaking havoc) but this time providing a reason for them and a new name—Titans.
We did not know the Titans were going to clash yet with Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” (2005), but the post-credit scene of Jordan Vogt-Robert’s “Kong: Skull Island” (2017) clearly indicated this fight was coming. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” had its own Easter Egg returning the favor.
Now, we get Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla Vs. Kong.” Godzilla seemed to be on the side of the humans (and the agency known as MONARCH) at the end of “King of Monsters” but now he has seemingly been attacking cities for no reason at all, killing and causing unbelievable damage. The solution is to find another Titan to find him—and so Alexander Skargard’s Nathan Lind captures Kong with the help of Ilene Andrews (Rebeca Hall) and Jia (Kaylee Hottie), a mute girl who is the last of the tribe from “King Kong” and who can communicate with the Titan.
Even before the task force can get Kong to Hong Kong, they get ambushed by Godzilla—and a lot of the movie is spent by the two creatures just fighting.
Meanwhile Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) intuits that there’s something that is making Godzilla act this way and recruits a ragtag bunch to find out why. What they find they out takes them deep into a scientific-corporate-military conspiracy, and the introduction of yet another Titan, the man-made Mechagodzilla—an integral part of the Godzilla mythology. So the fight in Hong Kong turns into a three-way brawl that is, to be honest, the most destructive sequence we’ve seen in a bit. Too bad we could not see it on an IMAX screen because it would have been awesome. We may have seen Godzilla and Kong before, but the design for Mechagodzilla is something else.
It is, by the way, fun to note, whether on purpose or by accident, how much “Godzilla Vs. Kong” takes their original tussle, 1962’s “King Kong Vs. Godzilla,” directed by iconic Godzilla director Ishiro Honda. If you have the time, just watch it because it is interesting how Wingard’s film pays homage to the original without being disrespectful to it.
The human characters, as usual, are secondary to the monsters, though Brown is basically still playing herself. The standout is Hottie, who’s Jia is the beating heart of the film.
That being said, the VFX in “Godzilla Vs. Kong” is amazing, even on the small screen. You will really believe this is what would happen if three Titans started savagely throwing down in a city. The secret plot and the ending may be a little predictable but the action more than makes up for it. One wonders, where does the Monsterverse go from here? After all, Legendary also owns the Kaiju-battling “Pacific Rim” franchise. Based on “Godzilla Vs. Kong,” anywhere it wants.
“Godzilla Vs. Kong” is now streaming on HBO GO.