[Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Halloween Daily News with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions the author shares are his own.]
The big boys are back in this year’s epic new sequel Godzilla vs. Kong, a wild dream come true for those of us who grew up imagining these two legendary monsters in the ultimate heavyweight fight.
Icon versus Icon movies rarely live up to the hype (or potential), but this one delivers everything I was looking for going in, and the 4K release is packed with bonus features, including full length commentary track by director Adam Wingard (The Guest).
As Wingard states in his commentary, Godzilla is ostensibly this film’s “villain,” a force of nature that is presented here like the shark in Jaws, while Kong is more like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, a weathered and tired fighter with no one left to fight (or so he thinks).
Godzilla gets top billing, but it’s really Kong’s movie, as his journey to the center of the Earth is at the heart of the film, the actual plot of which is not very important. Wingard even says so in his commentary, admitting that how and why Kong is going to Hollow Earth is fairly irrelevant, a series of devices designed to bring the titans together for a couple battles.
But if you are interested in the story, it seems that the ancestors of these two beasts were far more tightly acquainted than anyone knew.
As always, Godzilla acts as the wrath of nature whenever mankind tries to get too godlike, and he keeps the balance of power in check, while Kong is very much an outward extension of how mankind sees itself, as he has no unique or special powers other than just being really big (bigger than ever in this film, in fact). Wingard also explains that he purposely had Kong’s human friends experiencing almost exactly what he is experiencing one shot after another, allowing viewers to sympathize with the King of Skull Island on yet another level, while Godzilla is an unstoppable and virtually unrelatable force of terror.
Godzilla’s introduction in the film is pure awesomeness, rising from the sea with eyes blazing in atomic blue, wreaking havoc and attacking people for seemingly no reason.
Kong also hits the human heartstrings a little more because he historically has a serious soft spot for the ladies.
As for the human characters, they are mostly forgettable and, again, irrelevant, with the notable exception of Jia, the young Skull Island native played by a super talented Kaylee Hottle, who is deaf (both in the film and real life) and shares a strong bond with Kong. There’s more emotion packed into some of her closeups than all of the prior MonsterVerse movies combined.
I’m a big Millie Bobbie Brown fan and have loved her work on each season of Stranger Things, but she’s vastly underused here reprising her role as Madison Russell from from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as is Julian Dennison, who plays Madison’s pal Josh. It’s also unfortunate that the neatly divided members of Team Kong never really get to interact with those of Team Godzilla. Maybe Josh and Madison will team up with Jia for the next MonsterVerse movie, because they are about the only human characters needed moving forward (except for maybe John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow from Kong: Skull Island. Bring him back, please!).
Wingard says during his commentary that it was important to him that there be a clear “winner,” and while one is clearly victorious in the fight, one gets “a Rocky victory.”
Mild spoiler: When Mechagodzilla is unveiled, Wingard presents it like some kind of satanic ritual, bringing to life the ultimate evil of mankind, designed specifically to be better than Godzilla in every way so it can destroy Godzilla. The true final battle that then ensues is an immensely satisfying climax to a fast paced monster mash that all ages can enjoy.
The bonus features included on the 4K and Blu-ray release are fittingly massive, with Wingard’s entertaining and informative commentary serving as the centerpiece. I especially loved hearing that the death of Shun Orguri’s Ren Serizawa (whose connection to Ken Wantanabe’s Dr. Serizawa from Godzilla and King of the Monsters is never explained) is an homage to John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China.
Additional bonus content on this release includes the featurettes “Godzilla Attacks,” a six-minute dive into the opening Apex sequence with the cast of Team Godzilla; “The Phenomenon of Gojira, King of the Monsters,” a 10-minute discussion of the theme of “nature’s wrath” throughout all the Godzilla movies; “Kong Leaves Home,” a seven-minute visit back to Skull Island and introduction to its last human native, Jia (Kaylee Hottle); “Kong Discovers Hollow Earth,” an eight-minute exploration of the inverted physics and secrets uncovered at the center of the Earth; “Behold Kong’s Temple,” a six-minute dissection of the place in Hollow Earth where Kong becomes King; and “The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World,” an eight-minute look back at Kong in film through the years.
Mild spoiler: There is also the six-minute featurette “The Rise of Mechagodzilla,” in which Wingard and his team discuss their upgrades to Godzilla’s number one nemesis.
And finally, there are three brief featurettes, one on each of the big fights that are what everyone watching this film is here for, including the five-minute “Round One: Battle at Sea,” the six-minute “Round Two: One Will Fall,” and the seven-minute “Titan Tag Team: The God and The King.”
This is the very definition of a “popcorn movie,” not made for awards season or for critics at all, but for the kid inside many of us who just wants to to see these two legends collide in a fury of destruction.
For grand spectacle and massively fun monster action, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
You can see the cover art for each format below.
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