Early on in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” there’s a moment that sets the entire stage for the film – that of one of the most basic of human traits; an intrinsic and rather tacit gesture that symbolically defines the awesome and fierce battle to be laid in front of our eyes.
Now, to put this into perspective, Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” opened yesterday in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max in the middle of a pandemic. While the titular characters are not roaming the streets of your nearby neighborhood, people are still leery about being in the same bubble as others for fear of getting sick.
Early reports indicate that neither a massive monkey nor a giant, fire-breathing lizard were enough to prevent people from going to the theaters. No, this isn’t a public safety message. If you have your shots, I can only encourage you to seek this, the fourth entry in Legendary’s Monsterverse, on as big a screen as safely as possible.
If I’m coming across as trite, it’s because “Godzilla vs. Kong” has the massive scale to effectively remind us of what a popcorn flick is all about, flimsy story to support it and all.
And I don’t care because it was pure fun.
The screenplay by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, a direct sequel to “Kong: Skull Island” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” knows that its DNA is in the titular characters and not in the humans that guide the story, and it doesn’t try to be anything more or less.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” doesn’t waste time either; we get to the action fairly quickly with the help of some familiar friends, Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) and Rebecca Hall’s Dr. Illene Andrews shepherding Kong toward Middle Earth, while Brian Tyree Henry’s Bernie Hayes and Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison Russell try to sort out what’s causing Godzilla to attack without warning.
None of the characters are powerful on the screen, and they don’t need to be. The throughline, where our characters uncover the mystery behind Godzilla, is very thin. This allows us to focus on the action, and it helps to create a sense of scale because the characters aren’t getting in the way of the action. Of all the characters, Hall’s presence in the film is perhaps the strongest character because of her connection to Kong and her connection to her daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle).
The main event happens approximately 95 minutes into the film, and it is well worth the wait. Set against the neon-soaked Hong Kong, Wingard conveys a sense of scale that still has me awe-inspired, and I watched it on my 75” TV at home; the film works better on the big screen, but it also works just as effectively on the small screen.
Reflecting on the final battle, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to the light cycle scenes in 1982’s “Tron” or its sequel, “Tron Legacy.” Where that film created scale on a microscopic level with its neon hues and fractal images, “Godzilla vs. Kong” creates its scale in the opposite direction – a macroscopic level where our subjects are larger than their surroundings.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” works simply because its scale doesn’t hold any punches. Now in theaters and on HBO Max for the next 30 days, find a screen, grab your popcorn, strap yourself into your seat and get ready for the wildest ride of the summer.
I’m ready for another turn on this merry-go-round!
- Godzilla vs. Kong