First Impressions: Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021)
I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to review a movie after seeing it one time, much less only hours after watching it. So, instead of that, here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts of Godzilla Vs. Kong immediately after watching it at about four in the morning (I regret nothing).
Overall, I think GvK is goofy as hell, but I loved every minute of it. Spoilers ahoy.
- The opening credits were great and really got me pumped for the rest of the movie. I laughed at that very first scene with Kong (someone compared it to Shrek), but it continued the vibe of 2017’s Skull Island. Overall, I liked Kong a lot.
- Godzilla moved a lot more like a guy in a rubber suit this time around. While 2014’s Godzilla had a lot of weight and you could really feel the scale of it all, Godzilla’s first scene here immediately took me back to the Showa Era. Some might not like that, but I thought it was funny.
- The pacing was good, and I didn’t feel bored by the human parts. Aside from bits with the Godzilla team, it leaned into the fantastical aspects of the franchise that I enjoy a lot.
- I mean, if you’re not going to take things seriously, or if you’re not intending for the film to be about something (as with the original Gojira and Shin Godzilla), then you should probably lean harder in the other direction. Embrace the absurdity. Godzilla vs. Kong does that quite a bit.
- Some great callbacks to previous films. Like Kong shoving the axe down Godzilla’s throat, or MechaGodzilla trying to pull a 2014 but not quite getting there.
- I’ve also had time to check in on some of the Internet’s critiques, and really — asking why there’s light in the Hollow Earth? Do you know nothing about the Hollow Earth? The theories about an inner sun? Admiral Richard E. Byrd? Ever read Journey to the Center of the Earth? That’s classic scifi meets real-world strangeness. I love it. Give me a whole new movie about the Hollow Earth!
- A lot of GvK felt like a theme park ride. I watched this at home on a decent TV, but seeing this in IMAX has got to be a blast. Especially the first-person views from inside the Hollow Earth vehicles. Up close and personal like in Universal Studios’ old Kongfrontation ride.
- I wonder sometimes if the people complaining about these monster movies have seen any of the other Godzilla flicks. Have you watched 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla? You want to talk about goofy? How about All Monsters Attack? I view this stuff in the context of all the other monster movies I’ve ever seen. So to hear people complain about the human elements or how silly things can get always makes me wonder if they’re familiar with the genre at all. (Not that their critiques are necessarily invalid, but…it’s nothing new!)
- My biggest complaint: Godzilla. Throughout the film, Godzilla is just kind of agitated because he doesn’t like what Apex Cybernetics is doing with MechaGodzilla. The movie leans so heavily in Kong’s direction, making Kong the protagonist, that it really should be called Kong vs. Godzilla. We just don’t see very much of Godzilla.
- Which is cool, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind when Godzilla plays the villain. But I’m a bit iffy on him laughing right into the camera. Reminds me too much of the infamous wink in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (there is, indeed, a threshold for goofiness). Even though I enjoyed it, the tone here doesn’t quite gel with the previous two western Godzilla movies. (But I personally view that as an improvement.)
- There are also a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of glossed-over backstories, and the pace is so fast that, for example, I didn’t even notice that one character (Ren Serizawa) was meant to be Dr. Serizawa’s son. You’d think that would be a big deal in the MonsterVerse. Just completely missed who that character was.
- We can also only wonder about Kong and Godzilla’s true history, who built that stuff in the Hollow Earth, and where that axe came from. Maybe not knowing makes it more compelling.
- Where’s Rodan?
Anyway, I really enjoyed Godzilla Vs. Kong, more than both King of the Monsters and 2014’s Godzilla. I had a lot more fun with it. I’m also going to refer to this genre of film as Frenetic Neon Kaiju Scifi. I guess it started with Pacific Rim, but bright neon colors and nighttime kaiju fights hit me just the right way.
Is GvK perfect? No, no, no. But right now, first impression, I’d give it a solid 8 or 9 out of 10. It was a good time, and that’s all I ask out of my giant monster movies.