The Battle of the Century has finally come to a head.
I mean, it also did back in 1963, so when I say “Battle of the Century” I guess I mean the latest century. The one that just started.
I mean, we’re only 20 years into this century, so it’s not like we were waiting all that long for the battle of the century, but the point is, Godzilla vs Kong (2021) came out and it is a battle that happened this century.
That’s right! Get out of here, Freddy vs Jason (2003)! We don’t want you around here, Alien vs Predator (2004)! Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) can go suck it! Rugrats Go Wild (2003) can give back it’s trophy for the best versus film of the 21st century, because a big monkey and a radioactive lizard have got beef.
Pictured: an artists rendition of Kaiju Beef.
The only reason to remake the Toho classic that is King Kong vs Godzilla (1963) is because 58 years of technical advancements finally means that we can see these two titans go at it in spectacular fashion.
And spectacular fashion, they do go!
If there’s one complaint that people have had with the visuals of the Monsterverse so far, it's how dark and murky the last two Godzilla films have been. That is a thing of the past in Godzilla vs Kong as the visuals are clearly more inspired by Kong’s previous outing; the majority of the monstrous battles occur in glorious daylight, even if that doesn’t make any sense.
Pictured: the sun sure shines bright in the centre of the Earth.
Similar to Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) before it, personally, I feel like this choice loses a lot of the weight that comes with the destruction and mayhem. Godzilla (2014) managed to feel like a genuine tragedy, with all of the eyes at ground level just trying to survive the carnage. Godzilla felt gargantuan to the point of view of the film. Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019) kind of played it both ways. The first battle between Ghidorah and Godzilla felt like two behemoths who didn’t care about anything else around them because in that circumstance, humans were comparable to ants.
Godzilla vs Kong (2021) loses all of that gravitas, and has the camera in the action, which sure, makes it way more fun and look more awesome, but after the last two films, it feels disingenuous. All of that weight meant nothing.
Pictured: Collateral damage has never looked so cool
It sure looks cool though.
I feel like I’m the only one who seemed to care about the last two Godzilla films. Kong: Skull Island (2017) didn’t worry me as much, because it didn’t feel like that universe as much, therefore, it’s balls-to-the-wall fun and adventure, without any real meaning, felt right.
I guess you could say that Godzilla vs Kong (2021) is definitely more of a Kong film.
This is kind of par for the course when it comes to Godzilla movies though. You start with Godzilla (1954) where the entire film is symbolism about dealing with a national tragedy: the bombing of Hiroshima. Then you end up with Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) where humans have kung fu fights with aliens, while Godzilla stomps around fighting every other Kaiju in any film before.
Pictured: remember when Godzilla meant something?
I really have no right to wish there was more to this film. Every other single person seems to love the fact that the movie has no deeper meaning, but I do. I want the movie to mean something. Shin Godzilla (2016) was a fantastic political satire, where this movie means nothing. No deeper meaning. You want Kong versus Godzilla? You get Kong versing Godzilla.
But also, the plotting is very stupid. One of the main characters talk about the tragedy of their dead brother, who died trying to travel to the centre of the Earth, but the rich bad guy tells him they have a new ship that can handle the trip… except no one knows that for sure. They had no way to test it. This IS the test. So the rich guy sends his daughter, main guy brings the Kong whisperer and she brings her surrogate-child, and all of them could die because this is the test run!
Meanwhile, some guy has a podcast, and apparently, he’s super secretive, despite the fact that he constantly says who he is in the podcast and how he’s spying on his workplace that he names. He also doesn’t change his voice, even though that technology has been around pre-digital. And Millie Bobby Brown is able to detective her way to finding him within a day. Maybe she has some leftover detective in her from Enola Holmes (2020)? But that was a Netflix exclusive, so I don’t think it’s part of the Monsterverse.
Pictured: That look you get when you imply Sherlock Holmes is part of the Godzilla universe.
At the end of the day, they find a reason for Kong and Godzilla to fight, and I think that’s all that people seem to care about? Never mind the fact that they had the Charles Dance scene at the end of the previous movie, even though this film was deep in production at that point, and no one seems to care that his scene no longer makes sense? He is an eco-terrorist with Ghidorah’s head, and he apparently sold it to evil rich guys who do the exact opposite of eco-terrorism? Charles Dance is a terrible eco-terrorist! Get your sh*t together, Charles Dance!
Of course it is! All of my complaints are about how they focus too much on the fun! There is one thing that is front and centre of this movie and that is fun!
Everything from the monster fights to the minute details, this film is built for fun. My eyes lit up with child-like glee when they rock up at “Denham University” because it’s a dumb reference to the original King Kong (1933) protagonist. They constantly find new ways to reference the original King Kong vs Godzilla (1963), and specifically about things you would think that they would want you to forget.
Pictured: a real surprise moment from Kong vs Godzilla (2021).
King Kong vs Godzilla (1963) started as King Kong Meets Frankenstein, which may explain why, for some reason, King Kong originally defeats Godzilla after being charged by being struck by lightning. It’s one of the weirdest moments in King Kong history, and somehow, they made that a plot point in 2021 and I loved it.
Pictured: another surprise moment from Kong vs Godzilla (2021).
And don’t think that dumb references are limited to monsters (well, depends on how you define them). Turns out director Adam Wingard loves Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). So much so that the film is credited at the end. Now, the only moment that I can think of that is remotely about Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) is that one moment when King Kong dislocates his shoulder with a wall, much like Riggs, and I don’t know if that counts enough to warrant credit? Is dislocating your shoulder with a wall official Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) merchandise? What is happening there?
Pictured: some credits raise more questions than post credit scenes.
At the end of the day, King Kong fights Godzilla, and it is very fun. It’s like a movie written by a five year old in all the best, and worst, ways.