King Kong entered pop culture in the 1933 movie that bears his name, and he’s never left. After all, who is going to show a giant gorilla the door? Godzilla, that’s who! Bursting into Japanese cinema in 1954, the King of the Monsters has forever been on a collision course with Kong (they fought once before in 1962). Now they’re back at it.
Legendary Pictures has been slowly building its MonsterVerse with two Godzilla films (Godzilla in 2014 and Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017). While it’s never been terribly popular, after a year stuck at home there’s something refreshing in watching two titans throw down in Hong Kong.
No one goes to a movie called Godzilla vs. Kong for the plot. Still, for the sake of form we’ll summarize. After Skull Island has become uninhabitable, Kong is moved to an artificial containment facility that looks just like his old territory. But he’s not fooled, and he’s getting restless. Whatever destroyed the island also killed all the native inhabitants except a little girl, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who is deaf, leaving her as his only connection to home.
Meanwhile, Godzilla, who when last we knew was one of the good guys, “is out there hurting people, and we don’t know why.” Maybe because he’s a giant, fire-breathing lizard in a world filled with tiny people in big buildings he can’t help but bump into? Or perhaps it has something to do with Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir), who wants humans (there are people in this movie too, not that they matter much) to be the apex predators on the planet.
Of course, Simmons tampers with things beyond his understanding and only makes things worse. In an odd way it brings to mind the book of Job, when God speaks of the mighty Leviathan. “If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering” (Job 41:8, 9). With the right attitude, monster movies can remind us that as clever as we think we are, there are things in creation beyond us that only God can control. Job saw the behemoth and the leviathan firsthand, and while we no longer have those creatures to look at, we can see Godzilla vs. Kong. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Ultimately, there’s only one thing most interested moviegoers will want to know: Is the movie boring? To that I can say no. At fewer than two hours, with the first fight arriving in the first 40 minutes and the last fight taking up the last half hour, there’s no shortage of monster mayhem designed to entertain.
As a tale of human pathos and drama, there’s nothing here. However, as visual art, Godzilla vs. Kong is a sight to behold. Never the Eighth Wonder of the World, but for the runtime it’s (hopefully?) more spectacular than what’s happening outside your window. (Warner Brothers)