‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ is sophisticated visual art masked as subpar film 

Image from the movie
Legendary Entertainment/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0 

As the screen emits blinding lights, Godzilla’s atomic breath spews out, trying to vanquish Kong; the high-resolution graphics entrance viewers as they watch the two alpha Titans fight for dominance. Directed by Adam Wingard, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a brilliant display of visual talent, intended for the largest screen its viewers can access — although its effects are powerful enough to register on screens of any size.

From the outset, the film portrays Godzilla as a villain intent on destroying humanity while Kong remains peacefully in a deteriorating observatory. Godzilla’s behavior is incited by Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir), the corrupt CEO of Apex Industries, who plans to harness the energy that powers both alpha Titans from Hollow Earth to create a weapon that can defend humanity against them. Accompanied by disastrous, yet glorious battles and a power plot gone wrong, “Godzilla vs. Kong” promises two hours packed with nonstop action. 

The film succeeds in giving both titular characters nuanced personas, humanizing them through their relationship with younger characters. Reflecting the innocence of youth, the film builds on the notion that children can find the good in anything since they do not maintain strong preconceived notions. Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) strongly advocates that Godzilla’s destructive behavior at the beginning of the film is not out of malice. Ignored by her father, a Monarch researcher, she teams up with a whistleblower from Apex Industries and her school friend to clear Godzilla’s name and return his savior status. 

Likewise, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a deaf orphan, is Kong’s defender. Jia and Kong’s bond forges an avenue of trust between the audience and the great ape as he becomes her protector. Simple moments, such as a delicate touch of their fingers and the anguish that washes over Kong’s face during periods of struggle, make him more relatable and likable for viewers, deepening their care for him. 

A stunning compilation of visual effects, “Godzilla vs. Kong” should be regarded as a work of art. Bold camera angles follow the Titans as they submerge into the depths of the ocean, placing the viewer right in the movie. By eliminating the audio during scenes with Jia, the film moves each viewer to relinquish their own hearing and rely on other senses. 

Although Godzilla and Kong may be too unrealistic to exist in the real world, “Godzilla vs. Kong” brings its viewers close to believing they are watching nonfiction. Whether it is how snow clings to Kong’s hair or the rough texture of Godzilla’s scales, the acute attention to detail is not lost on the audience. As the ocean splashes under the power of Kong’s mighty fist, the sea salt spray becomes palpable. In the climactic fight scene that takes place in Hong Kong, the film brings to life the captivating feeling of being surrounded by bright city signs and neon lights.

Although “Godzilla vs. Kong” puts a lot of effort into developing the alpha Titans, leaving viewers hanging onto the edge of their seats, it fails to do the same for the plot and human characters. Seriously underdeveloped, the film forces viewers to draw their own conclusions about many important points, such as understanding the Hollow Earth theory, an important facet of the film. 

Fans from earlier movies in the franchise were also left wanting more from the scattered and loosely attributed easter eggs. Only under a watchful eye can pleasant surprises be appreciated, such as the presence of Ren Serizawa (Shun Oguri), the son of the original scientist who researched Gojira in 2015’s “Godzilla.”

Although the human aspects of the movie may be lacking, “Godzilla vs. Kong” does exactly what its title implies: It focuses on the ultimate conflict of two alpha Titans coexisting. If viewers willingly leave logic on the back burner, they can marvel at the profound use of technology and effects to create such a masterpiece that can only be properly described as modern visual art. 

Contact Sejal Krishnan at [email protected].