GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a senior at Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page. 

The contemporary Godzilla “MonsterVerse” films, if nothing else, constitute a novel Westernization of a famous (and still ongoing!) Japanese franchise. 2014’s Godzilla drew upon the parabolic terror of the original Gojira; Kong: Skull Island gleefully evoked circa-1970s low-budget creature feature sensibilities; and Godzilla: King of the Monsters felt thematically akin to the visceral, action-packed Heisei-era Godzilla films prevalent in the ’90s.

Godzilla vs. Kong — which marks the first time that the titular titans have mingled onscreen in 60 years — is the latest MonsterVerse entry. Mildly burdened by one-dimensional human characters and a superficial script, Godzilla vs. Kong is nonetheless a thrilling kaiju slugfest that should easily rejuvenate cinema-starved audiences.

Loosely continuing plotlines from Skull Island and King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong sets its ultimate smackdown against the backdrop of an ominous corporate conspiracy. Unseen forces appear to be manipulating Godzilla and Kong into battle, and unless scattered factions of human characters can uncover the mystery, something truly terrible may be unleashed.

Director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch) proves an immensely talented blockbuster filmmaker. Wingard, even more so than his MonsterVerse predecessors, grasps the rawly visual appeal of a film like Godzilla vs. Kong; nearly every frame is a lavish optical feast. Most impressively of all, Wingard stages several of the major fight sequences in broad daylight — a welcome departure from the nondescript CGI dust storms commonplace in big-budget action flick finales.

Furthermore, Godzilla and Kong themselves are imbued with personality. A common mistake among monster features is to treat their creatures as characterless, dully savage beasts. Godzilla vs. Kong does just the opposite: both Big G and the Eighth Wonder of the World emerge as genuine, sympathetic characters, and arguably the true protagonists of the film.

Not all of Godzilla vs. Kong’s characters are 600-ft. kaiju, however. Few Godzilla films have managed to match monster action with effective human drama, and Godzilla vs. Kong’s screenplay — in addition to inheriting a handful of MonsterVerse mainstays — introduces swaths of superfluous human characters.

Unsurprisingly, the story is also mostly bland. While thankfully refraining from any sort of tiresome pretense, Godzilla vs. Kong paints a painfully predictable and perfunctory narrative. Max Borenstein and Eric Pearson’s script is not as egregious as say, Transformers or even some Marvel tentpoles, but it is uninspired nevertheless.

Regardless of its shortcomings, it is hard to imagine any fan of the genre being disappointed with Godzilla vs. Kong. Wingard has essentially crafted a $160 million tribute to classic Godzilla flicks — it couldn’t be more guileless if it were a child playing with their plastic dinosaur toys.

Godzilla vs. Kong is out in theaters and on HBO Max

Ratings Key:
★ – Bad (e.g., Transformers, Pixels, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Justice League)
★★ – Mediocre (e.g., Incredibles 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Super 8, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)
★★★ – Good (e.g., Pretty in Pink, Batman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)
★★★★ – Great (e.g., Jurassic Park, The Empire Strikes Back, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Social Network)
★★★★★ – Amazing (e.g., Dr. Strangelove, The Terminator, Do the Right Thing, Toy Story, Parasite)