blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021, Adam Wingard)

Kong vs. Godzilla is a rather bad film. Director Wingard is bad at every single thing the film tasks him with. Kong expert Rebecca Hall and adopted daughter Kaylee Hottle going to the Hollow Earth with pseudo-scientist burn-out Alexander Skarsgård? Terrible. Teens Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison teaming up with kaiju conspiracy podcaster Brian Tyree Henry? Somehow worse. Giant CGI ape fighting giant CGI lizard? Even worse.

Wingard directs the giant monster fight worse than if he were doing a pro-wrestling homage. Wingard does have some homage in vs., just never good. Like when Kong jumps Die Hard-style or knocks his shoulder back in like Lethal Weapon. Or when there’s a Twister reference. The movie’s a smorgasbord of unoriginality, tied together with bad acting—Skarsgård is godawful, but the rest of the main cast is tolerable (Hottle is probably even good under the circumstances and it’s clear Dennison needs to fire his agent and get a better one). The main supporting cast—actually, just the supporting cast, there are only like ten people in the movie, the rest are collateral damage. But gazillionare inventor Demián Bichir? He’s real bad. Eiza González as his merciless daughter? She’s worse.

If Wingard had a sense of humor and tried to do vs. campy, it might work. Even with the terrible acting. But he doesn’t have a sense of humor. However, he’s not overly serious because serious suggests some kind of thoughtful and there’s no thought in the direction. As bad as some of the acting gets and it gets painfully, absurdly bad, Wingard’s clearly responsible for at least twenty-five percent of it. The script’s really bad too, so maybe twenty percent to the script, which means the cast is only like half responsible for their lousy performances.

And some get it worse than others. Like Brown and Henry. The movie’s giving them some very bad material. There’s not really anyway to make gold out of it.

The CGI is good. Nothing Wingard does with the good CGI is good, but the CGI is good. Outside being an eighties action hero, Kong has some personality (he’s pals with Hottle). Godzilla gets none. It’s hilarious they’ve got Godzilla first in the title this time because Godzilla is a very special guest star.

Luckily, Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t start strong and have a stumble. It starts low and sort of flops around in the mud without ever getting on firm land. In fact, considering the affordable-to-license sixties songs they accompany Kong with because apparently composer Tom Holkenborg can’t handle a full score, it kind of improves. The songs are terrible. Holkenborg at least tries. There are a few moments when Holkenborg manages to find wisps of potential in whatever Wingard’s going. The wisps wisp away, but still. There are a couple almost good narrative beats thanks to Holkenborg.

No one else involved achieves anywhere near as much.

There’s a lot of bad ideas in Godzilla vs. Kong, a lot of silly ideas and a lot of bad ones (not to mention ones they ripped off from Toho’s post-2000s Godzilla movies—and Kong doesn’t get a creator credit, which isn’t cool). But with all obvious ability in the CGI—minus the shots where they have to match with whatever cinematographer Ben Seresin’s shooting with a lot of glare to hide the composite—it should’ve had some spectacle.

It’s not so bad the giant monkey fighting the giant lizard isn’t the most visually engaging material in the movie. But if the acting and writing and directing of the “plot” weren’t so paltry, the kaiju fight would definitely take backseat. Wingard’s fight scenes for the monsters are so bad, only him being worse at the rest makes them better in comparison.

Godzilla vs. Kong is the pits.

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