Review Round-Up: Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong

What are critics saying about the year’s biggest movie battle royale?
Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong has been one of the year’s most anticipated movies, but not just for myself. My son has become quite the Godzilla fan in recent years, even going so far as to start creating his own line of kaiju.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters gave us a full-on smackdown between the Big G and his most infamous foe, King Ghidorah. But now he’s squaring off against the mighty Kong, who was previously seen in 2017’s surprisingly good Kong: Skull Island.

Will this movie monster battle royale live up to the hype and expectations of kaiju fans ’round the world? Or will it turn out to be lame faster than you can say “Godzooky”? Read on for a sampling of Godzilla vs. Kong reviews (positive, negative, and somewhere in-between).

Matt Goldberg, “Another example of how thin a film can be when it offers nothing but CGI spectacle and cares about little else”

Godzilla vs. Kong is a movie you forget as you’re watching it because it’s wholly uninterested with elements that typically make us invest in a movie like character or clever plotting or theme or anything beyond splashy VFX leading to the big monster brawl. Obviously, people who watch a movie called “Godzilla vs. Kong” are coming to see that attraction, but that only makes up less than a quarter of the film’s runtime. Everything else is simply table-setting and exposition to move the characters and various monsters to where they need to be.

Angie Han, “Godzilla vs. Kong is exactly what it says on the label”

Freed from the obligation to try and be anything more meaningful than it is, Godzilla vs. Kong ekes out its biggest triumphs when it embraces silliness and spectacle. The cheesy lines (“Looks like round two goes to [spoiler]!”) become part of the fun. The monster mashes play like chaotic light shows, in contrast to the flat muddiness of so many other mega-budget blockbuster climaxes. At one point, the movie ditches any pretension of “realism” altogether and dives headfirst into a more overtly fantastical realm, and it makes for some of the most arresting imagery this entire franchise has had to offer.

Bob Mondello, “Godzilla and Kong stomp where Marvel fears to tread”

Not sure I needed almost two hours of throwing punches, even accompanied by collapsing skyscrapers. But after a year spent battling a tiny virus you can’t see, audiences may well appreciate a title bout featuring antagonists of a certain size.

John Nugent, “It makes you work for the fun”

Ultimately, the real battle here is not between Godzilla or Kong, but between the two movies within the movie: a lovingly rendered, big-budget tribute to B movies of the past, and a crushingly mediocre, cliché-bloated sci-fi. Sadly, the wrong monster wins.

Rodrigo Perez, “Cool sh*t can’t save Adam Wingard’s convoluted titans clashing Monsterverse movie”

Yet, for all its efforts into story, character, and providing ample room for monster fisticuffs and visual grandeur, Godzilla vs. Kong never really comes together in any potent way. It’s paradoxically a movie that’s almost too clever and convoluted for its own good with its two parallel storylines. And yet, the film is simplistic; it even going to ridiculous lengths to contrive a fairly outlandish story where Kong can get a superpowered ax that’s sole purpose seems to be an explainer for anyone wondering how a gigantic ape can convincingly face off against a monster that breathes and shoots atomic blast fire.

Katie Rife, “Delivers all the giddy monster-on-monster mayhem a kaiju fan could desire”

Praising the legibility of the action might seem like reaching for something nice to say about this film. But after King of the Monsters drenched its gorgeous creature design in obscuring sheets of rain, being able to follow the blow-by-blow of the gargantuan punch-outs in director Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong is enough to get a fan bouncing in their seat like a kid at the circus.

Joshua Rivera, “Godzilla vs. Kong brings the ruckus for an unbelievably good time”

Godzilla vs. Kong is a 113-minute argument for movies projected on giant screens in front of crowds of people. It’s a smooth-brained good time. Depending on local pandemic recovery progress and restrictions, it will either triumphantly welcome moviegoers back into theaters with tremendous spectacle, or make the wait hurt that much more, as they watch it on HBO Max instead. I watched it at home, on my 55-inch TV, absolutely furious that I couldn’t see it in a theater, or at the very least, project it on the side of my apartment building. But I couldn’t stay mad for long, because I was too busy cheering out loud at the spectacle in front of me.

Richard Roeper, “If you’re ready to revisit movie theaters, this is the sort of wonderfully escapist spectacle they were made for”

This is the first movie I’ve screened in a theater since last summer — under COVID-19 precautions and with just a handful of other folks spaced about the auditorium — and in a way it was the perfect B-movie vehicle for a return to the multiplex. Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters and streams on HBO Max on March 31, and though I completely understand and respect why many moviegoers aren’t quite ready to actually GO to the movies, if the conditions are right and you’re up for it, this is definitely the kind of wonderfully escapist spectacle fare that plays best in theaters with oversized screens and teeth-rattling sound systems.

Matt Zoller Seitz, “A crowd-pleasing, smash-‘em-up monster flick and a straight-up action picture par excellence”

It has rainstorms and explosions and into-the-wormhole light shows, giant mammals and reptiles and amphibians and insects and beasts that might be hybrids of one or more of the animal kingdoms, with some zombie, robot, or demon thrown in. It dares to dream big and be goofy and sincere as it does it. And yet, for an over-scaled and incident-packed tentpole flick, Godzilla vs. Kong stays light on its feet, like its co-leading man, a skyscraper-sized primate who bounds through jungles, tropical and concrete, like an astronaut skipping on the moon. It might be the best studio film so far this year. If it isn’t, it’s for damn sure the most fun.

James Whitbrook, “Godzilla vs. Kong can’t be saved, not even by good, dumb fun

And that, really, is Godzilla vs Kong’s fatal problem: there are four movies going on at once, and the one you want to see most is the one most drowned out by the others. When it isn’t, at least, it serves up some satisfyingly visceral action between its titular titans, but the hits come so few and far between to justify slogging through the rest of it.

Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31. Watch the most recent trailer below.

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