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Review: Godzilla vs Kong – “Endlessly enjoyable”

I know that this is a film about Godzilla & Kong fighting, but there were moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was watching. It’s hugely problematic, but almost certainly endlessly enjoyable too. In the nicest sense, I cannot believe this film exists in its current form.

Godzilla vs Kong should be front and centre at the relaunch of cinemas worldwide. Clearly, that’s not to be and in the UK we look like we’ll be worse hit. It’s a massive shame.

The opening shot alone gives you a sense of scale and wonder that even your average cinema screen couldn’t handle. This may as well have IMAX date stamped across the screen. It’s gargantuan. Both in terms of scale and stupidity.

I have to say, I’ve mostly loved all of the entries in the series so far. From ‘Godzilla’ frustratingly only teasing glimpses approach, all the way through to the bombastic ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters’. The set pieces have always been consistently high, so my expectations were up there. I’m happy with either/or style and approach. Clearly, that’s not the case for all, but it’s a minor miracle that there’s been enough interest to get us this far. That should be celebrated.

My soft spot for ‘Kong: Skull Island’ has gradually been justified recently. Seemingly a re-evaluation has taken place and people are realising that film is absolutely epic. I believe that’s partly rooted in more interesting characters and partly because aesthetically it’s just gorgeous to look at. It’s adult in tone, too. You can just about show your 6 y/o but my word you’ve got to be creative in terms of the FF & pause button.

Does any of that matter? I’d argue almost certainly.

If you come to ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ with any pre-conceptions whatsoever, especially about what’s gone before, you’ll fall neatly into three camps.

  • Let’s get “ambivalence/ambivalent/couldn’t care less”, out of the way now. It ain’t for you, Camp 1. Hard pass. Watch away if you want to kill 2 hours. But don’t be surprised at what’s on your mucas splattered screen.
  • Camp two: Detractors. You won’t struggle to build a case for why you don’t like it. You might even be able to sway people with your thoughts. You’ll certainly be able to argue no film has ever cared less about mass human destruction. No effort at all is made to clear people out of skyscrapers that are torn down. That would take far too much screen time. The human characters are mostly all poorly written. They throw the kitchen sink and the entire house at times. Not everything sticks and it’s a hot, sticky, messy abomination. You won’t be able to say it’s overly long, as it mostly rattles along and is well below 2 hours. The problem is… there’s a lot to cram in. The scope and scale of ambition is HUGE. Trailers have teased bits, but there are huge chunks that are unseen — so bravo for keeping it all under wraps. But make no mistake, this is a theme park ride.
  • The good news, for the final camp, all of the Advocates out there, is most of this new stuff will be your favourite stuff.

At one point I thought I was watching a Kubrick/Nolan Sci-Fi. Aching for the biggest screen possible — because fair play, the CGI is insanely consistent. The problem? It has Kubrick with Michael Bay’s science department. I realised an hour in I still had my brain engaged.

First battle aside, I was struggling. As soon as I switched off and went along for the ride, I realised I was on a helter-skelter that knew it was de-railing, but just about knew how to auto course correct. Invariably — and incredibly — that meant speeding up.

As a huge Adam Wingard fan, I’m delighted for him. I thought he’d lean on his horror principles a bit more — and my word, that would’ve been a creepy film — but he’s in complete control. He deserves infinite praise. We can see what’s going on. The action is shot in a way that respects the characters and he’s gone as bold as he possibly could.

Once it started to play out an almost Arthurian Legend, I didn’t care that the annoying kid characters kept screaming or ending up in places they shouldn’t be. I was punching the air.

Get me a ‘Pacific Rim’ cross over immediately, please. Preferably with Tom Holkenborg on drums.

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