½*/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras C+
starring Godzilla, King Kong, Alexander Skarsgård, Demián Bichir
screenplay by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein
directed by Adam Wingard
by Walter Chaw Godzilla is a reaction to America's attack on two civilian targets with nuclear weapons in the same way the current American superhero cycle is a reaction to 9/11. King Kong is an offshoot of Edgar Wallace's sledgehammer racist "Sanders of the River" tales, which he parlayed into early drafts of the screenplay that eventually became 1933's King Kong. Though it's possible to make a Godzilla or a King Kong movie without these ghosts of American war crimes, colonialism, and racism haunting it, Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong (hereafter GvK) ain't it. Not when these two giant metaphors for the poison of American exceptionalism destroy Hong Kong, a Chinese city the British only recently returned to the Chinese, before banding together to fight a Mexican-American's Japanese-piloted robot dinosaur. The film is a mess, an ideological jumble and a disaster of narrative that reduces its able cast to half exposition dump, half glazed reaction shots. It doesn't have anything to say and even in the worst of its predecessors, this was never the case. GvK isn't interested in ecology, in arms proliferation, in sociopolitical struggles--and failing all the big things it's not about, it's also free of parental issues, a romantic subplot, a compelling villain, or, indeed, a compelling hero. It's a giant nothing-burger. And that's without mentioning this new craze of writing a perfect minority child to teach the growed-ups how to get in touch with their better natures.