Review: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ (2021)

‘Godzilla v. Kong’ has managed to revive my interest in how bad movies with big budgets get made – $155 million in this case. The film is suffused with bad dialogues and blah acting, but its principal transgression is its writing. As the movie progresses, there are so many stupid scenes that you realise the writing has been nothing but lazy, a script attempted just to set up a Godzilla v. Kong v. Mechagodzilla fight (fuck spoiler alerts).

You can probably tell I’m seething, and that’s because of the extent to which the slipshod writing has percolated into the film. Not one scene, not one detail has been spared, not even the bad science. To be clear: movies like this are full of make-believe stuff, not science, but ‘Godzilla v. Kong’ is lazy even about the make-believe stuff.

There’s a scene about 30% of the way in when Techbro 1 and his CTO 1 visit Smart Scientist 1 and power up a hologram that shows a representation of Hollow Earth in 3D. There’s a streak of light in the hologram that’s glowing extra-bright, and Techbro 1 calls it a “source of energy”, says it must be “harvested” and wants Smart Scientist 1 to lead an expedition to the source so CTO 1 can use it to power a weapon to beat Godzilla. WTF – that’s short for “where‘s the fuss?”

Fair enough, films of the Marvel cinematic and the DC extended universes have kept us entranced on a diet of stories in which science and mumbo-jumbo will achieve exactly the heroes’ intended outcomes, so much so that we’ve learnt to stop asking why. But at least they gave a damn about it, spent time on it, cared enough about it to say things about it that make them sound witless. But ‘Godzilla v. Kong’ tries to be avant garde about it, skips right ahead assuming we don’t care anyway and presents us with one measly hologram and two sentences that together only makes us sit up and go, “WTF” – the real WTF.

And this is also the film’s plan throughout for anything that threatens to get in the way of the titanic showdown in Hong Kong: an obscure geoscientist knows how to rig a vehicle powered by some gravity-related engine to blow, Godzilla and Kong disobey the square-cube law (and Mechagodzilla’s power source is deemed irrelevant), a high-schooler brings down a satellite uplink by spilling a drink on the dashboard, another high-schooler knows how to unlock doors in a high-security facility, temperature and pressure increases are explained away – but not out loud – by allusions to a reverse gravity field (i.e. “gravity itself flips, so no other laws of physics can or should apply”), Godzilla can blow his atomic breath through 2,900 km without attenuation in less than a minute (and in one breath), a subsurface energy source is somehow “mined” and “transmitted” to the surface in seconds, and something about this signal being “uploaded” into a machine makes it unstable in a “psionic” way at just the right moment. (Smart Scientist 1 says about 30 minutes earlier that this could happen; now how or why, just one statement. You see it coming.)

Such utter failure to give a damn is only humiliating for viewers. And I’m fairly certain the three-way fight happened in Hong Kong not for the city’s neon lights but its high population density, so production studious can implore us next to buy a monster film about making reparations.

About Me

I’m a science editor and writer in India, interested in high-energy and condensed-matter physics, research misconduct, pseudoscience, science’s relationship with society, epic fantasy, open source/access/knowledge systems, H.R. Giger’s art, Goundamani’s comedy, Factorio, and most things that require a lot of time to get the hang of.