A Giant Disappointment

The point of a film review isn’t just to rehash the plot or critique the acting, but to examine its themes, the ideas it explores, the questions it asks. The recently released Godzilla vs. Kong asks a question I’ve never seen a movie ask before: “What would it look like if a really big monkey fought a giant lizard with fire breath?”

Answer: really freakin’ awesome.

Unfortunately, Godzilla vs. Kong is so preoccupied with this question it doesn’t really bother with anything else, leaving viewers with some impressive spectacle as the two behemoths fight tooth and nail and magic axe—yeah, you read that right—through the Pacific Ocean and Hong Kong, but little else. This is a movie that wants to show big ol’ monsters fighting each other, and it doesn’t care what it has to do to make that happen. It’s a mystery why director Adam Wingard brought together an impressive cast—Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Eiza González, Lance Reddick, and Kyle Chandler—but gives the actors so little to work with in terms of character development and dialogue. They barely matter to the story.

The storylines involving the human protagonists are tedious, with Skarsgård playing Dr. Nathan Lind, a geologist who is pulled into a mission with King Kong to find the monsters’ place of origin, a magic land in the center of the earth with a power source unlike anything that exists on the surface. Joining him are Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), the Jane Goodall of King Kong; Andrews’ adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a very young deaf girl who is inexplicably brought on the extremely dangerous mission; and Maia Simmons (González), a representative of Apex—the company bankrolling the mission—who is criminally underutilized, turned into a two-dimensional villain with very few lines.

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