Friday, Oct 22, 2021 | Last Update : 07:24 PM IST
Godzilla Vs. Kong; Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza Gonzalez, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, Hakeem Kae-Kazim; Direction: Adam Wingard; Rating: * * * (three stars)
BY VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY
Sequels are made because there is big money to be made. When you run out of sequel ideas, there is always the brainwave of clubbing associated franchises of the same studio, because there is bigger money to be made. If Batman can take on Superman, if Alien can fight Predator and rake it in, Godzilla Vs. Kong was waiting to happen.
The film literally goes for a monster kill in search of its pot of gold. The challenge here was obvious. You have fans of Godzilla, you have fans of Kong. The big deal always was to keep both the armies happy.
Calling the shots on the extravagantly expensive monster mayhem is Adam Wingard, who rose up the Hollywood ladder directing low-budget Hollywood horror. Wingard's grindhouse background perhaps made him apt for the creature feature tone of Godzilla Vs. Kong textually. The filmmaker goes about juxtaposing standard big-studio pomp -- in terms of CGI excesses and monster violence -- with its core narrative idea to set up the visual entertainment quotient.
Creature feature as a genre doesn't appeal to all unlike, say, superhero flicks, but it does have a huge and loyally audience base, particularly in the Asian market. On cue, the film's extended climax is set in Hong Kong. Plenty of Asian characters flit in and out of the frames. With a pathbreaking storyline not being priority, the film's focus was clearly on reaching out to diverse markets that will let it thrive in an era that welcomes inclusivity.
There are films where you can figure out the entire story watching the trailer. Godzilla Vs. Kong is a film that tells you its entire 'script' with one look at the poster. There is Godzilla, there is Kong. We have seen the two prehistoric monsters in individual franchises before, and we know their individual stories. The script of this film is about setting up an excuse to let the two mighty beasts fight it out, even as swanky Hong Kong crumbles all around them like an expensive toy city.
A lot of what goes on in the early hour is a build-up to the final fight. To give it an iota of logic, Wingard and company try setting up the story against a sci-fi backdrop.
Of course, when Kong the super ape and Godzilla the super lizard find themselves pitted against each other, neither can really be the bad guy. Screenwriters Terry Rossio and Michael Dougherty find the perfect 'villain' in the desperation to establish humans as the supreme species on the planet, even at the cost of destroying the two monsters for no reason.
The film rides a lot of sound and fury as mindboggling SFX brings alive the action overkill. It gets monotonous after a while once the monster action starts, although it is technically a brilliant film that should satiate lovers of the genre.
In a film called Godzilla Vs. Kong, you naturally don't have much to do unless you are either Godzilla or Kong. Most of the human cast is as much a spectator as the ticket-paying audience, once Kong and/or Godzilla hold centrestage (which is almost all the time).
For all its big bang execution, the film starts to fade from your mind even as you leave the theatre. After 113 minutes of an explosive experience, the lack of resonance is a downer of sorts.