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Godzilla and Kong, the two most powerful forces of nature, clash in a spectacular battle for the ages but a conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.
With the pandemic it has been a while since we did our last movie review so it was about time to get back to our old habits. And no better film to start with as in our Godzilla vs Kong review we will talk about the latest crossing between these Earth shuttering creatures and also talk about its recent 4K UHD release.
It seems that pitting together iconic figures has become a somewhat new trend in recent years but this seems to have began back in 2003 with the film Freddy vs Jason. Before that studios seemed reluctant to merge major franchises and with no obvious reason other than it had never been done before to such major degree and executives didn’t know how the audience would receive such a mix. But with the release of Freddy vs Jason it was like a switch flipped and now merging worlds, storylines and characters is not so absurd as once seemed.
And this is something evident as after 2003 we got Aliens vs Predator, Batman vs Superman and now the latest match up Godzilla vs Kong. Obviously these are not the only films that brought together figures and characters from different films but these are the most obvious ones due to their grand stature and big blockbuster nature. But although creating these vs films seems to be a normal practice nowadays there is one thing they have in common. None have managed to become the definite box office success as some of the individual films had managed to achieve before them.
Now, obviously there are several explanations for this to happen and also not all films we mentioned failed to achieve such a high status for the same reasons but we are here to talk specifically for Godzilla vs Kong. The film made $444 million which is not bad but considering the magnitude of both franchises this amount should be considered mediocre at least and certainly has not pleased the studios behind it. And the success of Godzilla vs Kong also reflects how the rest of these vs films have done. Mediocre at best, certainly not bad but also not as good as everyone was hoping for. And the big question is why?
Watching Godzilla vs Kong it is the author’s opinion that the film fell in all the same pitfalls Godzilla: King of the Monsters did but to a somewhat lesser degree. This is the problem with most studios. When Gareth Edwards Godzilla came out in 2014 it was a phenomenal release and although it was also not an impressive financial success you have to remember that it was a reboot after the lackluster 1998 Godzilla and many still had a bitter taste of that. So what Edwards did was wipe our memory clean and give us a fresh beginning that could lay the foundation for what would follow.
With Godzilla: King of the Monsters Warner Bros just wanted to make everything bigger, like the magnitude of such a film was not enough. It brought too many elements into the mix making the film very swallow, put the human element in the back seat and just let the monsters solve their differences over our ruined world as a background. This made the film feel like a glorified video game where it’s all mindless action, little story progression and even less character development.
With these weaknesses so obvious from such a recent film there was hope that Godzilla vs Kong would improve and bring back the magic that we saw in Edwards Godzilla. Unfortunately it seems that studios never learn and the film seems to repeat the same mistakes but in a slightly less degree. When you have such huge iconic figures more doesn’t necessarily mean better. This is something that for some reason studios fail again and again to understand. Putting more monsters, more characters and more action will not compensate for a weak storyline.
In this paragraph I am going to mention some major spoilers so in case you haven’t seen it yet then I suggest you to move on to the next paragraph. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!! Now, they already jam packed a film with two figures that need their time to develop even if we are already familiar with them. But as this was not enough we get an entire story plot regarding Hollow Earth and they tried to explain everything in the running time of a single film. And to make things even more chaotic they brought a bad guy that was obvious to happen even if you knew nothing before our first viewing. After all you could not have either Kong or Godzilla loose or be the bad guy and I think this was pretty obvious from when the film was first announced. So let’s bring another monster into the mix to make everything feel even more bloated.
There is a strong feeling in the film, exactly as it was in Godzilla: King of Monsters, that the human element takes a back seat. And this is entirely wrong. In Edwards film people were at the forefront with Godzilla being this unreal and untouchable figure. People were able to sympathize and relate with the human characters and understand what they go through when destruction is brought from these Titans. But in Godzilla vs Kong you cannot relate with a monster the size of a skyscraper and while we have seen in movies where the filmmakers have tried to bring this emotional element forward it was almost non existent here.
The relation of the little girl with Kong was meant to be just that. To bridge the human element with this untouchable monster but their whole relation felt very shallow and underdeveloped. We have no clue how this bond was created and it was easier to present us the result rather than putting on screen the hardship of making it happen. And all this is natural as they cannot show everything in the running time of a single film. What we see in Godzilla vs Kong could easily expand over the running time of a trilogy. It would allow the story to breath, expand, give us clues of how things happened between the little girl and Kong and also would allow it to develop all its story lines much better than what we finally got.
The film, although its remarkable weaknesses, is not all doom and gloom as it has its moments. It’s certainly not as mediocre as Godzilla: King of the Monsters was as the human characters were slightly better this time around and you could sense some level of attention and development towards them although it was cut short due to the film being mostly focused on the two main attractions. We have a few returning characters and along with a few new ones we would say that in terms of what was there it was good, just majorly underdeveloped.
Such a blockbuster would not be shy of visual effects and when the big guys appear on screen the film really shine. Everything looks nice although a few scenes do so very CGI-ish. The battle between Godzilla and Kong on the aircraft carrier is one of the main highlights of the film and these moments the film deserve its popcorn. The closing battle is a good one also although once again is mostly focused on the creatures themselves and thus gives the film a less epic feel and more of a video game one. It was exactly how we felt about Pacific Rim: Uprising. Too much focus on utter chaos than trying to create a moving story that includes visually impressive scenes.
This is very evident also when you compare Kong from Kong: Skull Island to the Kong we got here. In the previous film Kong felt like this massive creature with unimaginable proportions. The Kong we have here feels less impressive and less godly. This shows how important it is to show these creatures as they should be in order to give them the necessary weight and magnitude they deserve. And Godzilla vs Kong fails to deliver the same feeling to its viewers as it presents the creatures less menacing than before.
Story wise we will not get into much detail not to spoil it for anyone not having seen it but the film is really all over the place. The tried to include far too many elements and all of them are half explained or under-developed. This shows how important story remains even with such action heavy hitters. Edwards Godzilla had a very narrow storyline making things easier to explain during its running time. The more you add to the story the less developed it will be and in the end you have a mix of different ideas without much cohesion or connection. That’s why we said above that the material used in the film could very easily span the running time of a trilogy.
In the end Godzilla vs Kong is not a bad movie. It has its moments and certainly it will provide you with a couple of hours of crazy, out of this world action and the usual destruction you would expect. It’s just that we have already seen these creatures bringing down the house more than once already and every time it becomes less impressive. Studios have to stop relying on the wow factor and create better stories to tell as their worlds are so expansive the sky is the limit. But it shows they are unable provide a good structured story that is narrow enough to allow the development of all its characters and also move the action forward and instead still rely on wowing us, something that is not working so good anymore.
Godzilla vs Kong is really a missed opportunity. It could easily mark the beginning of a series of films that could span more sequels than Transformers ever did. But it’s not all disaster as even like this the film managed to make enough money to make the studios get some money back which could leave a glimpse of hope for a sequel. But if there will be one it has to be more focused, more constrained if it ever wants to have a chance for people to embrace this new universe moving forward. Otherwise it will be part of an ever expanding list of mediocre VS films that feel like studios don’t know what to do with.
Godzilla vs Kong bites into the 4K UHD format with a totally Earth shuttering 2160p resolution, HEVC / H.265 transfer from Warner Borthers. It comes with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio while the disc features both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ in order not to leave anyone disappointed. The wall shaking Dolby Atmos mix will certainly up the immersion even more and many of your neighbors will hate you even more.
It is rather common to see such big budget, visual effect rich blockbusters having a 2K DI and being upscaled into 4K for the UHD version so seeing Godzilla vs Kong being a true 4K release being sourced from the original 4K digital intermediate is surely a welcome one. With so much CGI on screen there are obviously a few ones that fall short of the quality needed but in general the format manages to render the film with exceptional clarity and each frame is full of details making it a visual feast for the eyes.
A wide color palette is being used and this was bound to happen due to the vastly different landscapes we have during the running time and what we got is certainly impressive. From the snow white landscape of the Hollow Earth entrance, the burning reds when Kong is transported with the boat, to the neon blues of the city during the night battle of Godzilla and Kong this disc has it all and the HDR grading surely has helped to produce so much more vibrancy to what is on screen. So either you have a Dolby Vision or a HDR10+ enabled TV you will certainly get an amazing visual experience that goes above and beyond the very good but otherwise limited 1080p transfer.
If the picture quality will impress you from the first frame then the sound will surely keep you at the edge of your seat from the first explosion. The Dolby Atmos track included in the UHD disc is every bit as good as you would expect from a destruction film of this magnitude. Only watch the battle of Godzilla and Kong in the city and you will understand how good work is done here. Positional audio is very much all over the place as sounds come from the front, center, back and above with pinpoint accuracy. Jets flew above our heads, cannon fire were shot from all directions and rain pouring down in the night created a totally worthy audio experience that even hardcore viewers will appreciate.
Even with all this action dialogue was still well defined and nicely confined in the center while we could not close our review without making a special mention to the bass. If you are a bass freak then make sure you are careful with this one as it can surely bring your subwoofer to its limits. There is so much low end action packed in this one that can bring down your house, and your neighbors for that matter.
Overall the film may not have been the astounding success Warner was hoping it to be but this 4K UHD certainly is. It may not make the film better but surely presents the film as good as possible bringing all its strengths forward. Amazing attention to detail, great color variation and with the help of the HDR grading makes some landscapes look like a canvas. The Dolby Atmos track is reference material and is good material for testing the structural integrity of your house. If you like these kind of popcorn films then make yourself a favor and go buy the disc. It definitely deserves it.
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