MOVIE REVIEW: Godzilla, Kong have come a long way

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‘Godzilla vs Kong’ is visually pleasing for audience members but lacks substance storywise (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

By Tyrese Blue

Kong sleeps on the side of a cliff surrounded by a forestry area of Skull Island.

A young deaf girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle) approaches him with the intention of comforting him and he suddenly throws a large spear mid-air and hits a digital screen, revealing that Kong is being held captive in a large containment facility by the Monarch Organization on Kong Island, which is set up to look like his natural habitat. The reason for his containment is to protect him from Godzilla.

But “Kong bows to no one.”

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is considerably director Adam Wingard’s biggest film — it’s his largest budgeted and highest grossing movie to date. The film is considered to be part of the “Kaiju” genre, a type of Japanese film style that highlights “giant monsters.” 

Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) is sent by the Apex company to help transfer Kong to Antarctica, where there supposedly lies an entrance to his ancestral homeland. However, during Kong’s transport by ship, Godzilla emerges from the deep ocean waters and starts attacking the fleet of ships, ultimately taking out the majority of them.

When Kong is finally released, Jia, who we learn is able to communicate with Kong through sign language, encourages him to enter the underground passage. The fleet follows Kong by using Apex aircraft carriers and they all eventually arrive at the center of the hollow Earth, where it seems life is plentiful and other giant animal species exist.

This is where Kong undercovers his origins and presumably finds his new home. 

Kong’s relationship with Jia goes beyond what’s shown in the film. Jia is the last surviving member of the Iwi people, who inhabited Skull Island for thousands of years until a storm wiped them out.  She becomes a central character to this particular story since she is the only human Kong is willing to trust and communicate with after he saves her from the devastating storm. 

This connection is also an Easter egg since it implies that Jia has psychic senses abilities. She senses Godzilla approaching the transport ship and attempts to warn everyone on board. This ability to communicate and sense the presence of  monsters has been seen in the past in “Godzilla” and Kanji films in general. The character Miki Seagusa appears in the Japanese  “Godzilla” films and is able to telepathically communicate, sense the location of Godzilla and was a head of the institution for psychic children. 

Despite the title of the film implying Godzilla and Kong are both protagonists, Godzilla sees little screen time in comparison to Kong. Godzilla is portrayed as the antagonist from the beginning of the film, destroying the Apex factory and attacking Kong.

However, not everything is what it seems. 

Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) points out “there’s a reason why he was provoked.” This foreshadows that we shouldn’t judge Godzilla’s intentions so quickly.

Godzilla has both reasonable and selfish motives for attacking both Kong and the Apex company. Killing Kong would ensure his status and dominance as the King of Titans of the surface of the Earth.

He also knows Apex is creating a weapon that poses a threat to him and all Titans. These circumstances lead to the final battle of the film.

And the outcome is exhilarating. 

Despite the Apex company and its founder Waler Simmons (Demian Bichir) being perceived as the villains, I believe their intentions aren’t all that immoral. Their creation of Mechagodzilla is meant to terminate Godzilla and end all other Titans’ reigns so humanity will no longer have to live in fear of the giant monsters. Ultimately, their plans go wrong and their own creation leads to their demise. 

The focus of the movie is more on visual pleasure for the audience than an award-winning on screen performance. The captivating and thrilling visual effects and CGI Godzilla and Kong make this film.

The human characters are the vessels that carry the audience through the story of the giant Titans. This is why I don’t see much reason in criticizing the actual actors’ performances, which were convincing overall. The film also uses some cliches, such as the clever scientists and corrupt, villainous corporation. 

Overall, the film is a thrilling pleasure with striking visual effects and an intriguing plot. Although it has some unnecessary cliches and side characters, make no mistake about it: This box office hit lives up to people’s expectations.

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