I wasn’t sure how to start this review. I thought of putting the lyrics to Blue Oyster Cult’s best song — Godzilla [don’t send letters, BOC fans, I like Cities on Flame and E.T.I. also]. I thought about how one of the legendary boxers recently died — Marvin Hagler, and how the title of this movie reminded me of the boxing posters that would say “Hagler vs. Hearns” or “Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs Sugar Ray Leonard.”
I thought about all the times my goofy guy friends got excited about movies like Freddy vs. Jason or Alien vs. Predator. Those movies, like this, seem to only be an exciting concept if you’re a teenager. Maybe my movie tastes have just grown a bit more as I’ve aged and my male friends have just been stuck in their mode of liking action pictures, despite how ridiculous they may be.
With monster movies, I don’t think it’s necessary to try to figure out how this ties in with all the previous ones. I don’t think I saw Godzilla: King of the Monsters (or at least, I don’t remember it). I didn’t care much for the Godzilla movie in 2014, and a few years after that was Kong: Skull Island, which for some reason, turned into Apocalypse Now.
I’m not sure if any of those stories combined the two monsters as a set up for this.
Now, for all the people that are so hyped about this movie, I wonder what they’ll think of the story. It’s two hours long, and has all the same characters you’ve seen before. There’s a billionaire megalomaniac (played well by Demian Bichir), who wants to find the ultimate fighting machine and a power source for it. He calmly states his plans, all while holding a brandy snifter. There’s the caring woman (Rebecca Hall) who doesn’t want anyone to harm King Kong (for some reason, every time they showed one of her facial reactions, it was annoying). She’s also caring for her young daughter, who it turns out is deaf. Oh, and get this (SPOILER ALERT) — the girl has taught Kong sign language. I kid you not. As Ladona Harvey sarcastically said on KOGO 600, while we were talking about the movie on the air, “Well, they taught gorillas like Coco sign language.”
Kyle Chandler (who was so great in Game Night) is a government official. I think. I can’t remember what his character did. It was a thankless role (he was in the previous movie). In this, he has a daughter (Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things) who wants to figure out what the evil Apex Corporation is up to. She enlists the help of Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry). Every time I heard the name Bernie, I just hoped to see the meme of Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair, with his mittens on, watching the two creatures fight. But I digress.
Bernie plays a conspiracy theory nut, who does a podcast on all his goofy theories (except his theory on what Apex is doing is correct).
Alexander Skarsgard plays a professor who wrote a book that flopped, about a theory that the middle of the Earth is hollow. Of course the bad guys realize that’s the case, and that’s where they need to go to obtain a power source. The middle of the Earth is hollow, and looks like the planet in Avatar (is this also Unobtainium they’re trying to get?). We see dinosaurs flying around, lush trees and greenery. There’s sometimes gravity, but other times, rocks just float around the air. Oh, and they trick Kong’s owners into bringing him, under the guise that Godzilla needs to be kept at bay after a recent attack the lizard did on Florida.
There’s only a total of about 25 minutes of fighting which won’t thrill fans that come for the battles. Sometimes it reminded me of the fight scenes in Pacific Rim or Transformers. They’re fast-paced and it’s hard to follow the action or appreciate the carnage. And as I said in one of the superhero movies years and years ago…when you watch multiple creatures thrown through multiple skyscrapers, you stop caring about the magnitude of it. And in this, when creatures fight in water, you can’t tell a lot of times what’s happening (although during their first fight in the ocean, it did have a few exciting moments). I also kept thinking of scenes that would have enhanced things. For example, when Kong is held underwater for a long time, and finally makes it back onto an aircraft carrier, spitting up all this water…how hard would it have been to have had a few fish flopping around on the deck? The film certainly needed a few more comedic moments than the wacky Bernie gave us.
Other times, the fight scenes made us think we were watching some slick CGI. Sometimes, the CGI was interesting. I loved the visuals of Kong in Antarctic, with snow coating his fur. Other times, it looked fake and the creatures lacked soul. You ended up not caring the least about these beasts, and less so for the humans.
Oh, and the machines they fly around in…which looked like helicopter/spaceships, with neon lights all around them…looked utterly ridiculous. They looked like vehicles out of Tron or a ride at Disneyland.
I thought it was great that in The Quiet Place, they cast a deaf actress. It was also cool to see someone who could use sign language in Sound of Metal (and Paul Raci got a well-deserved Oscar nomination and Critics’ Choice nomination for it). It’s nice that deaf actress Kaylee Hottle was brought in (she plays Jia), but this is such a bad screenplay, you grow tired of her sad looks at Kong, who she (SAME SPOILER ALERT) has been talking to with sign language. Just typing that line, makes me angry at how idiotic this whole screenplay was.
There were a few funny moments with Brian Tyree Henry, and I laughed during the one scene with Ronny Chieng, who is funny on (the mostly unfunny) Daily Show. I was excited to see Julian Dennison in this. I loved him in Hunt for the Wilderpeople (despite that awful title, if you haven’t seen it, you must), and he was great in Deadpool. But playing the best friend of Millie Bobby Brown, being dragged along in all this craziness…just didn’t work. There weren’t enough clever lines or scenarios written for them. And when he first shows up in a beater of a van, blasting Judas Priests’ “Breaking the Law”…I thought there would be the fun we had with the older, heavy metal loving brother in Onward from last year. Nope.
And speaking of music, ending the film with one of the few ‘60s bands I hate — The Hollies (All I Need Is the Air That I Breathe) — well, don’t get me started again on my rant about films and needle drops they think are so hip.
Also, the score to this film was overly bombastic and annoying.
As much as I hated this movie, it’s getting a lot of good reviews from other critics, so if the title of the film sounds like something you want to see…you probably won’t be disappointed.
1 star out of 5.
With the few friends I went with, one of them got a bottle of beer at the Reading Town Square, although they had some kind of Covid rule where they had to pour it into a cup (and it was a cup that was too small to fit in the cupholder in the theatre). He also had to wear a wristband, which makes sense. The huge tub of popcorn I got, which I was told came with free refills, became problematic since I went back for a refill when it was only half empty. Something about the tub needing to be completely empty to refill it, and yadda yadda yadda. I felt like George on Seinfeld debating it with the guy, asking if I should go over and dump out this popcorn in the trash can just to get it filled again. I just ended up going back to my seats without the refill.
The theatre did an amazing job of spacing us all out, so nobody was sitting near each other. I’m hoping more people start going back to the theatres, or we’re going to lose them like we’ve lost other businesses. Just be wiser than I was when picking your movie.