Godzilla v. Kong (2021)

The epic kaiju showdown fans have been waiting generations for by 21st-century VFX & CGI advancements, Godzilla v. Kong delivers on its title’s promise w. 10x-over spectacle, POC-diverse cast, lens prospectus, Darwinian themes, razor-thin storyline, & bad mid-act. 7.6/10.

Plot Synopsis: Fearsome monsters Godzilla and King Kong square off in an epic battle for the ages, while humanity looks to wipe out both of the creatures and take back the planet.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A ~Century Of Movies

King Kong & Godzilla Have Rocked Theaters & Audiences For 90 Years – An Entire Kaijuverse Born For The 21st Century, Craving Its Technological Achievements

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

March 2nd, 1933: A mix of critics, studio-executives, and audiences valet-park their cabriolets, grab popcorn & refreshments, and take their seats at Radio City Music Hall in NYC to see the grand premiere of a picture marketed as the ‘8th Wonder Of The World’. The exhibition lived up to the hype, changed what was possible in moviemaking with the magic to make you believe a titanic ape of equal magnitude to a skyscraper was real: King Kong. Two decades later, Godzilla made his motion picture debut – and the Japanese genre-classification of kaiju [giant monster movies] was officially born. Every sequel imaginable was greenlit: 30+ feature-length films, including a big, fun King vs. ‘Zilla showdown packed with B-movie innocence/charm back in 1962. A ~century beyond that first fateful NYC ‘30’s premiere, the movie world is a very different place today: one with such breathtaking scientific and technological advancements by mankind, we’re able to paint canvases like kaiju with photo-realism on-screen – at the cost of hundreds-of-millions of dollars, of course. We’re living in the age of film the creators of kaiju only dreamed of one-day being possible, and WB recognized that with the creation of The New Monsterverse back in 2014’s Godzilla Reboot. Reaching its apex, the franchise has delivered us a vs. showdown of legends 90+ years in the making – and it does the lores [mostly] proud. The epic kaiju showdown fans have been waiting generations for by 21st-century VFX & CGI advancements, Godzilla v. Kong delivers on its title’s promise 10x-over in blockbuster experience and jaw-dropping power/scale – with a POC-diverse cast, lens prospectus, Darwinian themes, and good storyline, but bad middle-act, too-short length, and lack of character-development.

A Mythological Rivalry Of Titans

The Phenomenal Opening Credits Montage Splices Found-Footage & Science References: Bygone Lore; A Bracket Like March Madness

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

From its opening credits, Godzilla v. Kong [hereby abbreviated: GVK] wows. A crisply-stylized montage splices historical & scientific found-footage – providing strikingly-proficient backstory-exposition/intrigue while recapping every event and battle of the previous kaiju showdown films in The Monsterverse. King Ghidorah, Mothra, Scylla, Rodan, The M.U.T.O.’s, Behemoth, Methusela, The Skullcrawlers, &, of course, the film’s two eponymous beasts are put into a humorous and pop-culture relevant March Madness bracket of the biggest scale imaginable. The Finals stage Kong vs. Godzilla as mythological foes with a rivalry dating back to prehistoric civilizations, as shown by meticulously-recreated style & aesthetic work in its art/archeology. One of the best credits scenes in the past few years: skillfully juxtaposing folklore with the existential fascination of redacted governmental data, scientific expeditions gone awry, and palpable mystery, Wingard’s vision of GVK gets off to a roaring start that’s damn effective in drawing you in as a viewer. The film only gets better from there, early-on. One of the aspects of Godzilla v. Kong we love most is the noticeable injection of pure science-fiction into the canvas.

The Science-Fiction & Darwinian Themes

Turning Up The Sci-Fi With Themes Of Natural/Ecosystemic Hierarchy, Evolution, Man vs. Nature, Machine vs. Nature, Anti-Colonialism/Capitalism, Etc.: ~IQ Beneath

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Though its reverberations aren’t always in the correct frequency [as we’ll explain later], the innovation to shake things up in concept pitch/angle is appreciable and appreciated – especially in an increasingly-complacent, formulaic blockbuster landscape. The Monsterverse is now already very tone and genre-diverse as a franchise, even a mere four films-in. 2014’s Godzilla was a natural disaster/survival epic with just enough nods to previous lore, Skull Island was old-fashioned action-adventure with war-fringes and testosterone-fueled ’80’s nostalgia, King Of The Monsters was classical kaiju [& perhaps: the best of not only its franchise, but the entire genre], and Godzilla v. Kong is an amalgamation of them – while heavier on the sci-fi and fantasy. Themes of natural/ecosystemic hierarchy, Darwinian evolution, man vs. nature, machine vs. nature, anticapitalism, and anticolonialism can be found beneath the surface of GVK’s rubble and cityscape brawlfests – packing a surprising amount of IQ the film could’ve been forgiven for lacking entirely, a bonus if you look/analyze hard enough. These impressive touches are best exemplified by yet another amazing montage of commercialized footage for Apex Cybernetics: one that establishes a breathtaking cinematography pedigree we’ll properly celebrate later like the brilliant allegorical shot transposing Michelangelo’s 1512 ‘Creation Of Adam’ fresco on us playing God w. our creation of machines (shown above), & important character in the film going forward.

Kong

The King Finds Skull Island Colonized & Ruined By Man; A Simulation Metaphorical To Zoo’s Before Finding A Friend & Home

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The major storyline beats for each of GVK’s two fighters are strong. We get to experience a day in the life of the king of the jungle in the opening scene, before he cleverly realizes it’s an elaborate illusion & not the real tropical South Pacific habitat he reigns over. The ruination and ecosystemic changes of Skull Island by mankind here reverberate the horrors of colonization, zoos, and our intrusion/subversion of natural law – even if good-intentioned in the study and protection of Kong from Godzilla, like our intentions of zoos are for medicinal cures & anti-poacher conservation: thus morality-complex as a topic. The imagery of a Kong moved by chains and shackles on a ship when the outpost realizes the simulation won’t hold adds the iconographical terror of slavery to the mix, as he goes on a journey of self-discovery/realization. Kong is searching for home throughout GVK – both metaphorical in his friendship with Jia and also physical in the Hollow Earth [hereby abbreviated: HE] birthplace of Titans back to which his lineage traces. This fleshes Kong out to much more than just the pissed-off ape from Skull Island – nostalgizing it to the classic 1933 and 2005 versions of the story, ones that were heavy on development & humanization of the King and exponentially-superior films because of it. Make no mistake: Kong gets a full character-arc in Godzilla v. Kong climaxing in that epic final zoom-out of him chestbeating over his new kingdom in the mountains of HE – and that alone is a big achievement.

Gojira

After KOTM & G1, Peace & Protector Of Us, Turned To Destruction & Villainy By An Mystery Force & [Clichéd, But Good] Plotline

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Of course, Gojira has been the crux and heart of The Monsterverse and kaiju genre since 1954 – and he gets a fantastic concept-pitch here too. 2014’s GZ & 2019’s KOTM established Godzilla as the protector of natural order and mankind against the apocalyptic powers of the other Titans. Even despite our futile, egomaniacal aspirations to fight a skyscraper-tall lizard with nuclear breath and strength, mankind eventually bows and relinquishes the title of apex predator on the hierarchical classification of life – we become his pets and he keeps peace for us; happily-ever-after. Or is it? The destruction and terrorization of cities by a Godzilla-unleashed begs that entire dynamic and his morality into question – a [clichéd but nevertheless] thrilling hero-turned-villain mystery plotline that serves for magnificent popcorn value. Later realized to be a carefully-orchestrated frame/ruse by Apex Cybernetics, a villain the size and power of our lizardy friend makes for an epic threat-level and springboard for the kaiju showdown of the millennium: Godzilla vs. Kong.

A Battle For The Ages

The Big-Ticket Event & Showdown For The Ages Delivers 10x Over On Its Promises Against Difficulty – Easily Worth The Price Of Admission; An Experience Built For IMAX

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The one takeaway from this review if I were to have to summarize it: the film delivers 10x over on its central promise. There is plenty of breathtaking Godzilla v. Kong action – more than I thought we’d get, quite frankly! Adam Wingard stages the fight night of any kaiju-lover’s dreams in three rounds, and it’s remarkably balanced; each icon wins-and-loses some to satisfy both fanbases perfectly. The first showdown in the middle of the South Pacific gives Gojira a Jaws-aesthetic – swimming with his spiky fins up and taking down a Kong out-of-his-element [with innovative underwater CGI/VFX after WB patented a new era in Aquaman] to win Round 1. Rounds 2 and 3 [+ a bonus round/arc of pure fandom-service] happen in Tokyo – one of the greatest action scenes ever filmed, true to the birthplace of kaiju it pays homage by utilization as the backdrop, and easily worth the price of admission alone: a visual experience to behold.. on the biggest IMAX screen you can find.

A Jaw-Dropping Canvas Of Kaiju

Part Of GVK’s Kaiju Power [Beyond 21st-Century VFX/CGI] Is Cinematography, Editing, & Lens Prospectus: A Tour Of Camera Techniques For Max Engagement

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The opening credits and APEX montage established a visual pedigree and craftsmanship on full display in the most bonkers motifs in the rest of the film, especially the Tokyo sequence. Ben Seresin’s cinematography is unbelievable – continuing the biggest accomplishment of The Monsterverse in, no matter how thin or undercooked the storyline is, delivering enough sublime visual awe to ~enjoy the experience. Godzilla: KOTM is still the best visual canvas of the franchise [& perhaps: entire genre of kaiju], but GVK is a very close second – achieving its jaw-dropping power through cinematography, staging, editing, and lens prospectus. The Tokyo scene is a tour-de-force of camera techniques, from POV shots to 3/4 behind to frontal to trackers to whip-pans and everything in-between: a clinic in how to involve the viewer in the visual canvas for maximum engagement of blockbuster experience – one that feels like you’re sitting in the front row of an amusement park rollercoaster/ride.

One Of The Greatest Action Scenes Ever

The Tokyo Battle Is An Unbelievable Movie Achievement; A Chef D’Oeuvre Set Inside & True To The Origin-Place Of The Genre

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The editing by Joshua Schaeffer stitches together the impossibly grand and epic-scale battle with proficiency in his quick-cuts and cross-dissolves. Together with the cyberpunk neon glory of the japanese cityscape, cinematography, and top-notch VFX/CGI – feeling like it cost $300M+, but – somehow – only costing half that [I still can’t believe the figure], an ocular showpiece every movie-fan needs to witness with their very own eyes. This is the vision of kaiju the creators of the genre must’ve imagined decades ago beyond the hokey stop-motion claymation/animation limitations of their time – and it’s enough to bring tears to a fan’s eyes how powerful the experience is and how far we’ve come in the art-and-science of moviemaking. The soundtrack by Junkie XL is good too, just as wide-spanning as its visuals in everything from twangy country blues to ’80’s power-ballads to booming trumpet-drops to techno arpeggios and tribal drums in a way works as a skillfully-mixed Holkenborg signature whole that parallels its visual flavors palatably.

A Balanced Act For Both Fanbases

A Canvas Staged In Multiple Fight-Rounds, Godzilla & Kong Both Win Battles To Satisfy Their Lore And Fanbases; A Clear Winner Before Final Team-Up On A Bigger Threat

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Round 2 of the fight night goes to Kong with the help of his trusty new [Mjolnir-like] battle-axe: an awesome addition to his repertoire and lore that – along with his ability to sign-language – feels proto-human by the use of tools. Finally, Round 3 goes *spoiler* back to Godzilla after he changes up his fighting style back to animalistic features like claws and predatorial techniques, showcasing his dominance and multi-adaptability in combat. The fandom-service also references past Gojira and Kong films [as well as pop-culture] throughout its fight scenes and events – from Kong going for Godzilla’s throat to chopper-flights to Bernie’s whiskey-brand to jaw-snaps to the kiss of death to paramedic shock-revival to a Jaws reference and Lethal Weapon 2 homage. I love that there’s a clear-winner in the battle in Godzilla and the film doesn’t shy away into grandstanding in fear of upsetting one-fanbase. Any Kong fans outraged or underwhelmed by the decision [though it makes sense: Godzilla has freaking nuclear breath, Kong has.. big hands] will be apologize-serenaded by the film’s big surprise, mega-fandom arc: Mechagodzilla. One of Godzilla’s greatest foes of kaiju lore for ~50 years is given a phenomenal modernization – a creation of mankind by Apex Cybernetics to try to regain the crown of apex predator atop the natural hierarchy in a world of Godzillas and Kongs, turning their own powers back against them.

A Bonus Arc

A Breathtaking Surprise-Arc Fuels Even More Epic Kaiju Lore/Action + BvS Parallels: Mechagodzilla & The Dichotomy Of Mankind

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The backstory works and is empathizable from a villain perspective of not wanting to feel invisible or powerless in a world of Titans – plus, a crime-against nature and abomination of pure sci-fi intrigue gloriously-rendered by a not-easy feat to bring this being of metal and mechanization to life. The trio fighting in a [now-daytime] Tokyo delivers what might be the biggest scale ever in kaiju – giving our two favorite movie monsters an excuse to work together. The arc parallels 2016’s Batman v. Superman in many ways: two pop-cultural icons fight each other by careful orchestration of a science-fiction company & CEO behind-the-scenes to frame one of them [Lex Luthor to Superman, W. Simmons to Godzilla], only for them to have to unite to fight a gray, manmade version of one of them using lasers to fight and destroy the cityscape [Doomsday and Mechagodzilla]. The only thing that could’ve made it clearer is a ‘you’re letting him kill [Moth]ra’ line (insert laugh) – but, in seriousness, GVK does the near-exact plot far better.. as the above line’s absence proves. We positively adore the ending of Kong’s redemption to fight alongside and even save Godzilla at times – rebalancing the duo on power-scales to the point of them reaching mutual respect and admiration: two kings with a slight bow to Godzilla, and a nicely-written ending that works.

The Cast & A Win For POC-Diversity

A Phenomenal Cast From Eiza Gonzalez To MBB To Skarsgård & Démian Bichir To A Show-Stealing Brian Tyree Henry; Strong & Strikingly Culture-Diverse For Blockbusters

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

During and around the destructive kaiju battles in the film’s many landscapes, there’s a human-centric B-plot brought to life by a strong cast of [POC-diverse] A-listers. GVK is strikingly culture/representation-diverse – it might be the most ostensibly diverse megablockbuster to-date. Black, Latinx, Asian, & White men-and-women share the canvas equalized without even noticeable forcisure or mandate-feeling; this is the new exemplar of how to balance/achieve cast-diversity that all future movies and Hollywood should take notes on. Brian Tyree Henry steals the show as conspiracy-theorizing engineer Bernie: arguably the main character of the entire film & his biggest role yet, one he knocks out of the park with humor and charisma [it’s incredibly gratifying to see on the big screen, being one of our favorite comedy actors from one of our favorite shows: Donald Glover’s 2016 Atlanta FX]. Rebecca Hall of Iron Man 3-fame plays a compelling Dr. Jane-to-our-Tarzanian-Kong, Demián Bichir is a deliciously-evil villain CEO & patriarch of the entire Mechagodzilla arc, Eiza Gonzalez is a classic spoiled daddy’s girl it’s easy-to-hate by-design, Millie Bobbie Brown brings more of her investable Madison from KOTM and pop-culture relevance from Stranger Things, Shun Oguri is a critical lynchpin figure of psionic-link for Mechagodzilla and one of the biggest Asian roles in Hollywood in years, and Alexander Skarsgård is a ’80’s macho archetype that broods handsomely with a twinge of humorous cowardice too.

A Nice Touch Of Humanization

Though The People Are Not The Focus [& Shouldn’t Have Been On Its Title], Clever Touches Of Humanity Like Jia & Kong

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

There’s a nice touch of humanization too in the Jia arc. The last surviving member of the Iwi tribe native to Skull Island & wiped out by the colonization’s destruction of the climate & natural order, she’s an empathizable character – having been through a lot as only a little girl enduring such pain. Her friendship with Kong adds characterizational depth to both of them while recapturing some of the anthromorphizable magic of previous versions we’d long since missed in the explosion-laden 2016 reboot film. Adam Wingard strikes a nice balance of monsterisms/kaiju with fringes of humanity on the sidelines, such that it doesn’t overstay its welcome or distract/detract as it started to towards the end of KOTM: GVK is foremost a monster-movie and wears its heart on its sleeve. That’s not to say there aren’t problems with the characterization, screenwriting, and casting: there certainly are. There’s one absolutely awful miscast and character plaguing the background of a sizable number of frames in the film: Julian Dennison’s Josh. One of the big problems of Deadpool 2 we cited back in the late 2010’s, he felt out of his league and purposely-typecast for an inexplicably important-role without the acting chops to warrant it – and, here, he’s even worse. There for seemingly no reason but to be a chubby and painfully-awkward punching bag for fat/incel jokes throughout the entire film, his presence is completely unnecessary, badly-acted [down to the ridiculously-fake British accent], the weak link and only fail of the otherwise-stellar cast, and representationally-backwards in stark juxtaposition of the progressive rest of film in poking fun at body-image – making you feel more sorry for him than the comedic relief we guess (..?) was envisioned for his character.

A Toxic Brew Of Conspiracy Theories

The Last Thing The COVID-19 Era Or World Needs Is GVK’s Woozying Counterplot + One Horrific Miscast For ~Fat/Incel Jokes: Josh

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Godzilla v. Kong also has a bizarre omnipotence of conspiracy theorization. Sure, Apex Cybernetics was engaged in evil practices under the guise of corporate benevolence – but the screenplay overplays its commonality with the subtlety of a baboon Kong-ancestor, and enough crackpot theories to make even the sanest individuals cringe. There’s talk of governmental mind-control through tapwater, illuminiati presence in megacorporations, doomsday-devices, bleach-showering to erase biohacking, etc.. All they needed to complete the bingo card was a tinfoil hat to stop them from HACKING BRAINWAVES! [*facepalms*]. Worse: they bully the one sane character for not believing them, like it’s somehow a crime to think logically or reject the plausibility everything’s a villainous plot – a laughably-moronic theme that’s as dangerous as it is batsh*t-crazy. The last thing we need in the world right now – as the rise of antivaxxers threatens world populations in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100+ years – is to be seeing things like this on such a public platform, only further-enabling the deluded high-school flunkees getting off their day-shifts at Walmart who think they somehow know more about biochemistry/medicine than M.D.’s, Ph.D’s, and centuries of scientific research. WB and Legendary should know better than to give this type of nonsense this big of a megaphone and platform for millions of viewers. Sigh.

A Bad Middle-Act: Hollow Earth

A Laughable Middle-Act Of Bad Sci-Fi & Bizarre 1st-Grade Creature Designs Takes You Out Of The Movie On HE – & Decimates Any Prv Semblance Of Investable Plausibility

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The biggest flaw in Godzilla v. Kong, though, is without a doubt its middle-act. Act II of GVK on Hollow Earth is terrible; like ~unwatchably bad. Sandwiched between two incredible bread slices in the opening establishment act and Tokyo arc leading into the finale is a bizarre sci-fi expedition amongst the weirdest and most incongruent/mismatched I’ve ever seen. Channeling the concept of the failed Disney Channel-y ‘Journey To The Center Of Earth’ series, we’re taken exactly there in a kooky trip to ‘The Birthplace Of Titans’ that galavants like it’s some higher form of sci-fi/art & the next 2001: A Space Odyssey.. when it more feels like a fan-film. The backdrop may be finely-rendered and pitch of a lost world filled with creatures just like Godzilla and Kong sound great on paper, but the execution decimates any semblance of realism or investability from the second we step foot on the HEAV’s – it really took me out of the film. Obviously, GVK isn’t a realistic film and we can’t expect to see 100 foot-tall monsters battling in downtown NYC or Los Angeles tomorrow, but the illusion needs to be at least somewhat realistic feeling to make us care the slightest bit.. not Star Trek. There is no explanation of Hollow Earth, why anything is like it is, HE’s relation to each Titan, how they escaped to the world above, what the throne/axe means for Kong’s origins & lineage, what the ancient rivalry was, who any of the creatures are, etc..

A Bad Middle-Act: Hollow Earth (Cont.)

A Laughable Middle-Act Of Bad Sci-Fi & Bizarre 1st-Grade Creature Designs Takes You Out Of The Movie On HE – & Decimates Any Prv Semblance Of Investable Plausibility

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Don’t even get us started on how breathtakingly lame and illogical the creatures on Hollow Earth are. There are pterodactyls, weird crabs, flying monkeys, pudgy smiling salamanders, owl-bats, & everything else you’d find in an elementary school art sketchbook; they look childish, laughable, and fan-made in perplexing juxtaposition to the rest of the film’s otherwise-incredible CGI. I mean, look at the side-by-side of one of the film’s HE creatures on the left and a random fan’s concept-art on the right above.. what in the name of ‘kaiju’ happened here? This is everything wrong with 2016’s Skull Island all-over-again but worse, and if you were going to go this route and bloom-evolve the biodiversity of The Monsterverse in one shot while painting the Eden from which a creature like King Ghidorah comes from, why not go all-out with the same level of detail and badass craftsmanship with which you painted Kong, Godzilla, and the other Titans? This is even weirder by the fact that there is one good Hollow Earth creature that lives up to its big film brethren: the flying boa constrictor/snake – even more unforgivably signaling they did know how to create good ones on that level they could’ve extrapolated to more, and just chose not to.

Could’ve Been More For This Lore

Though It Delivers On Action & Major Story-Beats, Feels Undercooked & Studio-Exec’d At 1hr53m; A WB Learning Nothing From ZSJL

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

The film feels incomplete in this regard: the budget of $160M is impossibly-light for a film of this magnitude [Justice League was $300M, by-comparison], so there’s no excuse to not be able to spend an extra 20-30M to polish and beef up the creature VFX in the middle-act and still come in way under budget of most blockbuster movies. This could’ve also been solved by an extra 15-20 minutes of more exposition, exploration, and explanation of what Hollow Earth really is and means – again, inexcusable because the film had plenty of time to spare at a measly 1hr53min. In fact, the runtime makes the film feel undercooked and wreaks of studio-mandates – which wouldn’t be at-all surprising because it’s Warner Bros. and.. do we even need to recap how badly they fumbled with 2017’s Josstice League [they made the exact same mistake on limiting to two hours] vs. The Snyder Cut? Did they learn nothing from the streaming records, fan-celebration, and even critical acclaim all exponentially-above their hacksawed Frankenstein of a version? Do we need a Wingard Cut of GVK too? As lifelong fans of both monsters’ movies and lore, we just can’t get the bad taste out of our mouths that their big ensemble feels a bit thin and corporatized/committee-made – and, while still good, could’ve been more for a film of this historical significance and magnitude.

Conclusion

Exactly As Advertised: For Better Or Worse

The Epic Kaiju Showdown Fans & G/K Have Waited Generations For Gets A Good But Safe Film By 21st-Century CGI, POC-Diverse Cast, Lens Prospectus, & Darwinian Themes

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros., Legendary, & Toho Japan

Overall, Godzilla v. Kong delivers exactly what its title promises. The found-footage opening credits montage alone establishes a VFX acuity, cinematographical intelligence, and lens prospectus Ben Seresin and John DesJardin thoroughly develop across the film – one staged in a beautiful diversification of location settings from Hawaiian islands to ocean trenches to desert rock outcroppings to arctic tundras to cyberpunk Tokyo cityscapes pakced with kaiju action. The big ticket blockbuster fight we came to see is delivered 10x over – a jaw-dropping canvas and larger-than-life experience amongst the best the Japanese genre of epic-scale monster-combat has ever seen, one that claws its way to the #2 spot all-time in CLC’s kaiju ranking [only behind Godzilla: KOTM] and is glorious to behold in 21st-century CGI/VFX fans have been waiting on for generations. The soundtrack is great too as it traverses everything from Judas Priest metal shreds to booming trumpet drops to twangy country blues in a Junkie XL score that works – and don’t even get us started on how epic its surprise arc of Mechagodzilla is. The ‘poony hooman’ part is surprisingly.. good – subversive of many of the Monsterverse clichés/tropes as it tackles themes of anticapitalism, colonialism, man vs. nature, and machine vs. nature with a cast of A-listers [that’s strikingly POC-diverse ]from Eiza Gonzalez to Brian Tyree Henry to Millie Bobbie Brown to Danai Gurira to Alexander Skarsgård to Shun Oguri to Demiàn Bichir to Rebecca Hall. The one cast-failure and weak link of questionable characterization/acting is Julian Dennison’s Josh – a punching bag with no ostensible purpose besides being a jab at chubby incels, not even doing that well. The dialogue and script also spews toxic conspiracy nut theories rapid-fire – the last thing the world needs in a COVID-19/antivax world. The Hollow Earth middle act is bizarre & mismatched too – taking me ~out of the movie entirely by its ‘Journey To The Center of Earth’ laughability, repeating the exact mistakes of 2016’s Kong: Skull Island in weird creatures and obliteration of any remote semblance of realism. Don’t expect much (or really: any) character-development either.. the film feels a bit thin/undercooked: a shame since it’s storyline is good on paper, perplexingly shortened to a measly 1h53min runtime making me wish it was more for a film of this magnitude and historical significance. Overall, though, Adam Wingard has managed to craft a grand spectacle that balances its epic moments with intimate ones – a smooth, tautly-directed, highly-watchable piece of blockbusterisms it’s easy to plug off critical analytics & just enjoy. The epic kaiju showdown fans have been waiting generations for by 21st-century VFX & CGI advancements, Godzilla v. Kong delivers on its title’s promise with 10x-over spectacle and jaw-dropping power/scale – with a POC-diverse cast, lens prospectus, Darwinian themes, and good [but thin] storyline.. despite a bizarre middle-act, too-short length, and lack of character-development.

Official CLC Score: 7.6/10