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Reviews For The Uneasily Quarantined:
Godzilla Vs. Kong

Title: Godzilla vs. Kong

Describe This Movie In One Godzilla (2014) Quote:

DR. SERIZAWA: Let them fight.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Seriously?

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3.5 Doug McClures out of 5.

Tagline: "One will fall."

Better Tagline: "Give the people what they want."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: In the five years since Godzilla defeated the evil Titans, Kong is still hidden from public view on Skull Island (under a dome built by Monarch). His only interaction is with Jia (Kayla Hottle), the last of the Iwi. Meanwhile, Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) is looking into mysterious goings-on at his old company, Apex Cybernetics. When Apex is attacked by Godzilla, Bernie is contacted by Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), who believes something is triggering the big G. Before you can say "plot contrivance," Kong is taken from Skull Island to lead a group of Apex researchers to a vast underground realm that might hold the secret to defeating Godzilla.

"Critical" Analysis: It has to be frustrating making Godzilla movies. On one hand, if you bother to flesh out the puny human characters, people complain that you're wasting time better spent on large-scale mayhem. Avoid the humans, and the movie's somehow no longer "relatable."

Then again, when your movie is enjoying the biggest worldwide box office opening of any movie since the pandemic began, it smooths over a lot of anxiety. Sleep well, Adam Wingard.

GvK hits the ground running and never lets up. Godzilla makes his first attack and Kong is taken from Skull Island almost before the credits roll. Every act is highlighted by a fight between the two, and if the whole thing is built on the most ludicrous of premises, does anyone really care?

To that end, we get more obligatory mythology about the "Hollow Earth," the realm from whence the Titans brought their subterranean grudges to the surface world. It's also the location for a mystical energy source Apex is searching for, allegedly to combat Godzilla, but we soon learn Bernie's paranoia was justified.

As conspiracies go, it could've been worse. At least it wasn't Comet Ping Pong Cybernetics.

GvK also marks the point where the WB's MonsterVerse goes full Edgar Rice Burroughs. Not to say imagining a reality where supersonic pterosaurs and giant nuclear lizards duke it out didn't stretch credulity, but Wingard's approach here is to cram as much improbable tech and ancient mysticism in the gaps between monster melees that we barely have time to catch our breath.

For the most part, it works. Defying contemporary filmmaking norms as well as physics, Wingard brings everything together in under two hours. Godzilla vs. Kong runs so lean that even the folks who are into massive onscreen destruction might find themselves sympathizing with those who favor emphasis on the humans.

And the humans are fine. Millie Bobby Brown's Madison has grown from gawking tween to conspiracy-leaning adolescent, and while Bernie could've easily been a caricature, Henry makes him relatable.

The adults are more of a mixed bag. Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), the adopted mother of Jia and key Kong-whisperer, provides the emotional core as well as the only real family angle given that Madison's dad, Monarch official Dr. Russell (Kyle Chandler), is laughably absent for most of the movie.

He should probably be happy Bernie's Titan podcasts distracted Madison from QAnon. And I hope whoever decided to cast Alexander Skarsgård as a the hunkiest scientist since Mark Wahlberg in Transformers had a good laugh.

We've passed the one-year anniversary of the COVID lockdown and most of us have spent the last 12 months watching the delay of highly anticipated movies and contenting ourselves with studios haltingly releasing films on streaming services on VOD. We're nowhere near out of the woods, but if you've had your vaccines, you could do worse than end your film drought watching this in IMAX.

Godzilla vs. Kong is now showing in select theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar