It’s surprising that in a film climate where extended universes fail from the starting gate, that the Kong/Godzilla modern film universe has been a quiet success. The crown jewel so far is “Godzilla vs. Kong,” a pretty great monster clash that pits monkey against lizard, and delivers some great rumbles between the pair. Director Adam Wingard is more than up to the challenge of giving fans the long awaited movie clash, and as expected, “Godzilla vs. Kong” met every expectation that I had.
Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, after they learn the potential origin of where the titans are born; along for the ride is young Jia, an orphaned girl who has a unique and powerful bond with the mighty beast. However, they soon find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla as he cuts a swath of destruction across the globe looking for Kong. The initial confrontation between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the planet. Their confrontation is further agitated by a new weapon waiting in the wings to destroy Godzilla once and for all.
The modern “giant monster” movie universe is not entirely the sprawling movie library filled with spin offs, but it’s fulfilled a lot of promises with some very good reboots, sequels, and the inevitable clashing of giants– Or Titans, as they’re referred to, in this series. I wasn’t too sure I’d be invested in the entire idea of Titans and the realms from where they emerge and whatnot, but it’s a great concept filled with potential. There’s so much ambiguity within the realm that Kong and Godzilla originated from, as the writers give us a ton of explanation while also keeping us in the dark.
The most interesting interlude is when Kong is exploring his homeland, and you can’t help but feel like there are other monsters creeping up soon. Perhaps even that lovable giant, Gamera. For the most part, the cast is great including Mille Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgaard, and Rebecca Hall, respectively. Kaylee Hottle steals the show as Jia, though, acting well off of Kong, and providing an emotional anchor for the audience. If “Godzilla vs. Kong” has a flaw, is that it’s overstuffed in the narrative. There are a ton of characters, and about five separate sub-plots, all of which never quite fit together, even in the finale.
A lot of that is forgivable, as “Godzilla vs. Kong” aims to explore the monsters rather than simply making them hit each other for two hours. There’s actual characterization, and a great sense of adventure tucked in to every seam. I also loved the original monsters introduced that pose large threats to Kong and Godzilla, allowing for a wider scope to the world of the Titans that they’ve been building up to. And considering that they’ve opened the door to Mechagodzilla, I hope we keep seeing more of this universe very soon.
This two-disc release comes with a Digital Copy redemption slip. There’s an Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard, who serves up a pretty engaging feature-length track for the fans. There’s The God, a series of like-minded featurettes about the iconic Kaiju. Godzilla Attacks is a short featurette that includes brief words from key members of the cast and crew, including director Adam Wingard, producer Alex Garcia, and actor Kyle Chandler, who speak about Godzilla’s role in the film and his place is history from classic fare to the Legendary Pictures films.
The Phenomenon of Gojira, King of the Monsters, features Actor Sally Hawkins, filmmaker Gareth Edwards, writer Zach Shields, director Adam Wingard, and others expanding on Godzilla’s history, mythical qualities, and other films in the series, including their favorite iterations growing up. The King is another short-form featurettes, this time focusing on the furrier of the two Titans. Kong Leaves Home includes several key members of the cast and crew, including a few earlier participants, speaking about this older version of the celebrated character and his unusual relationship with young Jia.
Kong Discovers Hollow Earth is a more focused look at Godzilla vs. Kong’s approach to Hollow Earth (including its use in other fantasy films and stories) and the creation of that locale, including its visual effects and how the concept of reverse gravity changed the film’s initial script. Behold Kong’s Temple includes Director Adam Wingard and others expounding on the Kong’s Temple sequence, including its construction on a soundstage, visual effects, and elements of Kong’s origin story. The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World is a look a the legacy of King Kong, featuring key members of the cast and crew — including those from other Legendary films — who speak about the character’s appearance in earlier installments including the 1933 original.
The Rise of Mecha-Godzilla is a piece covering the climactic appearance of Mecha-Godzilla, including his history and the challenges of making him more sleek and modern while staying true to the character. The Battles is a trio of featurettes, each one covering one of the film’s trio of Titan battles, with more words from the cast and crew as well as a quick look at visual effects in various stages of completion including concept art, pre-vis sequences, and finishing touches.