With the Godzilla Vs Kong embargo now lifted; critics were quick to share their thoughts on the monster mash movie. The first real cinematic event movie for some time, the action-packed flick pits the two legendary titans against each other in a battle for the ages, and while the general consensus seems to be that the human characters and narrative are lackluster, those who simply wish to see a giant ape fight a giant lizard are in luck.
The Hollywood Reporter were very much in the camp that found the plot threads to be left wanting but did describe the titular throwdown as "visceral."
"The cast of Godzilla vs. Kong shows commendable inclusivity for a major studio movie. But pity the talented actors who had to spend the majority of their time standing around gawping at green screens, either in stunned silence or mouthing countless variations on "Oh, my God" shock and awe. Despite an undernourished thread connecting key characters by their experience of loss, seldom have the human figures and their interplay been as peripheral to the headline action in a popcorn blockbuster. The good news is that even if the convoluted kaiju mythology tends to trip over itself in a plot that only barely makes sense, the Monsterverse face-off delivers plenty of visceral excitement."
Similarly, Forbes also found fault with the narrative, but did find charm in Godzilla vs. Kong's simplicity and no-nonsense approach.
"There's little narrative or artistic reason for Godzilla Vs. Kong to exist, save for that it was already in the pipeline when Kong of the Monsters bombed and that the MonsterVerse was launched on an explicit promise of eventually watching King Kong go 12 rounds with Godzilla. There's still something almost quaint and old-fashioned in how this chapter makes no real effort to set up sequels or spin-offs. It's an excessively simple movie, especially in its rousing second half, and it works as a Saturday matinee treat, a relic of a time before films like this were A+ mega-budget tentpoles. My kids are big fans of the previous MonsterVerse movies, and they enjoyed this one too. Godzilla Vs. Kong isn't as poetic as Godzilla or as character-rich as Skull Island, but it gets the job done as straight-up IMAX-friendly rock-n-roll."
Entertainment Weekly praised the computer-generated detail of the famous beasts, as well as the character Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, who communicates with Kong using sign language. However, they too found fault with the rest of the human characters, while once again commending the action.
"If you want a great monster movie that's actually also about people - how they think and talk and feel when they're more than just screaming kaiju chum in the water - try 2017's Colossal, currently streaming on Hulu. If not, maybe Godzilla vs. Kong's brawling lizard-brain shock and awe is exactly the void you came for."
Slash Film applauded the movie's "ability to realize how stupid this all is," with this MonsterVerse outing jettisoning the "seriousness in Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and leaning more heavily into the absurdity of two giant monsters bashing each other's heads in in the name of entertainment.
"Godzilla vs. Kong is a film without pretensions. It knows exactly what it wants to do, and what it wants to do is have monsters smash buildings while they're throwing punches at each other. It's finally what this franchise has been building towards: a movie about monsters, not humans."
These sentiments were echoed by IndieWire, who praised director Adam Wingard for making Godzilla vs. Kong his own.
"Legendary Entertainment's MonsterVerse isn't messing around: Seven years and four films in, the franchise is already delivering the sort of massive battle royale that might take other series decades to create. Adam Wingard's "Godzilla vs. Kong" takes two of cinema's most beloved overgrown villains (with hearts of gold, kinda) and pits them against each other in a bombastic franchise entry unafraid to crib liberally from the best bits of each film that came before, while also establishing its own distinct vibe."
The critic at Roger Ebert found a lot to like about Godzilla vs. Kong, admiring the movie's ability to balance all sorts of sub-genres and yet remain uncrowded. Calling Godzilla vs. Kong "a crowd-pleasing, smash-'em-up monster flick and a straight-up action picture par excellence", they also describe Godzilla vs. Kong as a "fairy tale and a science-fiction exploration film, a Western, a pro wrestling extravaganza, a conspiracy thriller, a Frankenstein movie, a heartwarming drama about animals and their human pals," even likening one sequence to director Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" by way of "Yellow Submarine."
"It dares to dream big and be goofy and sincere as it does it. And yet, for an over-scaled and incident-packed tentpole flick, "Godzilla vs. Kong" stays light on its feet, like its co-leading man, a skyscraper-sized primate who bounds through jungles, tropical and concrete, like an astronaut skipping on the moon. It might be the best studio film so far this year. If it isn't, it's for damn sure the most fun."
Finally, Digital Spy sums things up by telling all Godzilla vs. Kong fans what they want to hear.
"If you're tuning into Godzilla vs Kong to see the two massive titans beat the living hell out of each other (and why wouldn't you?), the answer is an absolute yes. The movie isn't without its issues, but in terms of delivering on the carnage promised, you'd be hard-pressed to find a fan that won't be satisfied."
The fourth film in Legendary's MonsterVerse, Godzilla vs. Kong picks up five years after the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and pits the two fearsome monsters against each other in an epic battle to end all battles, while humanity looks to wipe out both creatures and take back the planet once and for all. Directed by Adam Wingard and starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir. Godzilla vs. Kong is out now in theaters and on HBO Max courtesy of Legendary Pictures.