de facto film reviews 3 stars

In a time where mega-blockbusters have been sidelined due to the pandemic, Godzilla vs Kong feels like a welcome return to the kind of film destined to be experienced on a massive screen with a giant tub of popcorn. Gone are the overly complicated human plot threads and bait-and-switch action sequences, instead we’re treated to a traditional style of kaiju flick that absolutely delivers on the brawling spectacle you would hope for.

The plot? Who cares. Godzilla has mysteriously gone rogue, forcing our band of human characters to look to Kong to restore order. Running at just 113 minutes, director Adam Wingard (The Guest, You’re Next) keeps the film moving at a brisk pace that never allows itself to get bogged down in monotonous plot details, but instead a straightforward, streamlined story with very little fat.

The characters are nothing particularly new or interesting, but Wingard wisely relies on the charm of his cast to make up for some gaps in characterization with heavyweights such as Rebecca Hall, Demian Bichir, Brian Tyree Henry and Alexander Skarsgard giving the film some welcoming gravitas. The sole character to actually create a sense of empathy is Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, a young deaf girl who is able to communicate with Kong through sign language. This character surprisingly gives the film a much-needed beating heart at its center.

Lets be honest, you don’t care about the humans and apart from Jia, neither does the film. When its time for the monsters to duke it out, Wingard knows exactly how to deliver. The kaiju battles are simply some of the best ever put to screen. Wingard frames the action with assurance and an originality that adds an energetic flair to the already electric set pieces. The cinematography by Ben Seresin is an added bonus, with a rich color palette and a clarity to the set pieces that never turns numbing or creates an eye sore.

Wingard implements more sci-fi fantasy elements than in the series’ previous three films, throwing back to some of the wackier Showa-era Godzilla films, but fits nicely within the established tone. The “Hollow Earth” sequences are surprisingly ambitious, taking particular inspiration from James Cameron’s Avatar, to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ridley Scott’s Alien. Coming from the indie genre scene, Adam Wingard allows his personality and sharp bite to shine through, showing that the filmmaker really can work well within tentpole blockbusters (Netflix’s Death Note not withstanding).

Arguably just as satisfying as any “vs” film before it, Godzilla vs Kong delivers the ginormous, insane kaiju action fans want and deserve and stands as a highpoint for MonsterVerse franchise. It may end up as the cinematic equivalent of a Taco Bell meal, but in a time where audiences are starved of such meals, this one hit just the right spot.