Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA/Australia/Canada/India, 2021. Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros.. Story by Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, Screenplay by Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein. Cinematography by Ben Seresin. Produced by Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Eric McLeod, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull. Music by Junkie XL. Production Design by Tom Hammock, Owen Paterson. Costume Design by Ann Foley. Film Editing by Josh Schaeffer.
The magnificent lizard returns for his third adventure, having finished the last film something of a hero for having gotten humanity out of great trouble with a giant multi-headed monster. Godzilla risks his reputation when he surfaces in Florida and takes out an entire coastline. The area he attacks includes a robotics corporation being accused of shady activities by a conspiracy theorist podcaster (Brian Tyree Henry), and the previous film’s star Millie Bobby Brown grabs a friend and goes to find him, hoping to investigate the reason why her beloved Godzilla attacked the humans he had worked so hard to protect the last time around. This frustrates her concerned father (Kyle Chandler), who gets a few juicy moments in front of giant screen tracking the lizard’s whereabouts. On the other side of the globe, King Kong lives in an enclosed, protected environment being watched over by scientist Rebecca Hall, whose adopted, deaf daughter is the last surviving native of Skull Island and communicates with the big ape via sign language. Still in another corner of civilization, Alexander Skarsgard plays a scientist who is approached by tech CEO Damien Bichir to head up an expedition to the centre of our planet, where “Hollow Earth” contains its own Jules Verne-style environment, a place that Skarsgard’s brother died trying to locate. Skarsgard takes the job, enlisting Hall to bring Kong along and lead them to success (sure, okay), and in the process maybe the great ape might find the origins of his own kind in a place that has sunlight despite being at the centre of a terrestrial planet. How this highly practical plan is put together is sketchily laid out by the film’s writers, who twist themselves into pretzels spewing scientific jargon trying to justify a plot that is merely there to bring two large creatures together in combat (honestly, if you’re the person who shows up to a movie about King Kong versus Godzilla and howls about it not making sense, you get all the loneliness in this life that you deserve). The endless stream of nonsense dialogue is placed into the mouths of actors who are begging for the torture to end (Hall can barely avoid rolling her eyes any time she has to say anything), but the dull and uncommitted performances are actually one of the pleasures of this shameless indulgence, emphasizing the need to not take it seriously and simply enjoy it for its lighter and more escapist moments. Brown is the only cast member who didn’t get the memo about keeping it light, desperately giving us Actors Studio realness in every shot (and as a result, coming across the worst of the bunch). The film pays off in its juicy climax, a showdown between the titular characters in a gorgeously neon-lit Hong Kong that, while alarmingly bad for the city and, likely, devastating for the entire world’s economy, is well worth waiting for.