You need to watch the best sci-fi monster movie of 2021 before it leaves HBO Max next week
“Let them fight.”
Not all monster movies are created equal. Some are cerebral explorations of what it means to be a monster in the first place. Take 2020’s Invisible Man, which used the classic horror sci-fi film to tell an extremely modern story. That’s great and all, but sometimes, you just want to watch two huge monsters punch each other.
Lucky for you, 2021 already delivered one of the best giant monster (aka, kaiju) movies in recent memory. Godzilla vs. Kong is streaming now on HBO Max, but it leaves the service on April 30 (so does Invisible Man, by the way). Here’s why you need to watch Godzilla and King Kong duke it out — while you still can.
Godzilla vs. Kong is not a smart movie. (If that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll point you again to Invisible Man.) But director Adam Wingard knows to give his audience exactly what they want: a big ole’ monster fight. Godzilla and King Kong duke it out multiple times in this movie, and each battle is more impressive than the last.
The problem with Godzilla vs. Kong is pretty much everything that doesn’t directly involve Godzilla fighting King Kong. The cast is stacked with talent (Alexander Skarsgård, Brian Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Dennison), but the humans in this movie are only good for two things: delivering expository dialogue and running away from giant monsters.
If you’re only here for the kaiju fights, we’ve got a quick breakdown of what’s actually worth watching (spoilers ahead):
- At 10 minutes and 30 seconds in Godzilla attacks a sketchy tech company facility.
- At roughly 39 minutes into the movie, Godzilla and Kong fight for the first time
- At 57 minutes in, we get an extended sequence set in Hollow Earth, which includes a fight between Kong and some unfortunate flying monsters. During that time, we also meet Mechagodzilla and watch him tear some poor kaiju apart.
- But if you want to skip to the main event, the final fight between Godzilla and Kong starts at roughly 1-hour-and-22-minutes and lasts for the rest of the film.
Speaking of Mechagodzilla, the robotic kaiju is another highlight in Godzilla vs. Kong. When Inverse spoke to Wingard ahead of the movie’s release, the director said his design choices were inspired by arguably the most famous fighting robots around: Transformers.
“I always loved the simplicity of the Transformers designs,” Wingard said. “So I tried to create a look to the character that was punchy, and just had a bit more of a simplistic simplicity to him, an immediacy to his shape and outline.”
Wingard added that before he ever saw a Godzilla movie, he was captivated by the concept of Mechagodzilla.
“I just love the character,” he said. “I remember as a kid, my first instance of experiencing Mechagodzilla was never in an actual movie. He was just somehow a character that I was aware of, and I was obsessed with him, you know?”
One other thing that makes Godzilla vs. Kong better than your typical franchise crossover slugfest? Unlike every other DC and Marvel movie, this film actually feels like a definitive ending. There’s no shoehorned-in epilogue that teases future team-ups and battles. Instead, Godzilla vs. Kong just ends.
That’s partially because, unlike Marvel (or even DC), the “Monsterverse” hasn’t exactly been a huge financial success. These movies have their fans, but they’re not raking in cash like the Avengers. So now that we finally got to see Godzilla and King Kong go at it, the studio seems fine with putting a cap on the story — at least for now.
Max Borenstein, who worked as a screenwriter on every movie in the Monsterverse, told Inverse in March that regardless of what comes next, he sees this movie’s definitive ending as a good thing since it gives potential future moviemakers a clean slate to create whatever they want.
“Let's allow some time to actually creatively develop what's going to be next,” Borenstein said. “If anything's going to be next.”
Believe it or not, Godzilla Vs. Kong may have pulled off the impossible. A major franchise movie that doesn’t set up a sequel. That alone, makes it worth a watch — even if you decide to skip to the good stuff.
Godzilla vs. Kong is streaming on HBO Max through April 30.