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Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
Godzilla vs. Kong is a 2021 American monster film directed by Adam Wingard. A sequel to Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), it is the fourth film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse. It is also the 36th film in the Godzilla franchise, the 12th film in the King Kong franchise, and the fourth Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir. In the film, Kong clashes with Godzilla as humans lure the ape into the Hollow Earth to retrieve a power source for a secret weapon to stop Godzilla’s mysterious rampages.
The project was announced in October 2015 when Legendary Pictures declared plans for a shared cinematic universe between Godzilla and King Kong. The film’s writers room was assembled in March 2017, and Wingard was announced as the director in May 2017. Principal photography began in November 2018 in Hawaii, Australia and Hong Kong, and wrapped in April 2019.
After being delayed from a November 2020 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Godzilla vs. Kong was theatrically released internationally on March 24, 2021, and in the United States on March 31, where it was also released on HBO Max simultaneously. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the visual effects and action sequences, but criticism towards the human characters. It broke several pandemic box office records, and grossed over $467.8 million worldwide, against a production budget between $155–200 million and a break-even point of $330 million, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2021. The film was also a streaming hit, becoming the most successful launch item in HBO Max’s history until it was overtaken by Mortal Kombat.
Five years after Godzilla defeated King Ghidorah,[c] Kong is monitored by Monarch within a giant dome on Skull Island. Kong is visited by Jia, the last Iwi native and adopted daughter of Kong expert Ilene Andrews, who is deaf and communicates with Kong via sign language.
Bernie Hayes, an employee of Apex Cybernetics and host of a Titan conspiracy theory podcast, extracts data suggesting sinister activities at an Apex’s Pensacola facility. However, Godzilla suddenly attacks the facility; during the rampage, Bernie stumbles on a massive device. Madison Russell, a fan of Bernie’s podcast, enlists her friend Josh to investigate Godzilla’s attacks.
Apex CEO Walter Simmons recruits Nathan Lind, former Monarch scientist, and Hollow Earth theorist, to guide a search for a power source into the Hollow Earth, the homeworld of the Titans. Nathan is initially hesitant as his brother died in an expedition to the Hollow Earth due to a strong reverse-gravitational effect. He agrees after Walter reveals that Apex has developed HEAVs, specialized crafts able to withstand the pressure exerted by the gravity field.
Nathan meets with Ilene and convinces her to let Kong guide them through the Hollow Earth via an outpost in Antarctica. Nathan, Ilene, and an Apex team led by Walter’s daughter Maia board a modified barge escorted by the U.S. Navy that carries a sedated and restrained Kong. Godzilla attacks the convoy and defeats Kong but retreats after the ships disable their power and trick him into thinking they are destroyed. To avoid alerting Godzilla, Kong is airlifted to the Hollow Earth entrance, and Jia convinces him to enter the tunnel while the team follows him in the HEAVs.
Madison and Josh find Bernie, who joins their investigation. They sneak into the wrecked Apex base, discover a secret facility underground, and are inadvertently locked into an underground hyperloop-type transport to Apex headquarters in Hong Kong, where they unwittingly stumble on a test of Mechagodzilla. It is telepathically controlled by Ren Serizawa, the son of the late Ishirō Serizawa, through the neural networks from the skull of a severed Ghidorah head, but is hobbled by its power supply’s limitations. Walter intends to harness the Hollow Earth’s energy to overcome Mechagodzilla’s limitations.
Inside the Hollow Earth, Kong and the team find an ecosystem similar to Skull Island. They discover his species’ ancestral throne room, where they find remains of an ancient war with Godzilla’s kind and a glowing axe made from another Godzilla’s dorsal plates. As they identify the power source, the Apex team sends its signature back to their Hong Kong base despite Ilene’s protests. Attracted by Mechagodzilla’s activation, Godzilla arrives in Hong Kong, and sensing Kong, he directly drills a shaft to the throne room with his atomic breath. Maia and the Apex team attempt to escape in the ensuing mayhem, but their HEAV is crushed by Kong. Kong, Ilene, Jia, and Nathan ascend to Hong Kong, where Kong engages Godzilla in a final battle. Kong initially gains the upper-hand; however, Godzilla emerges victorious after incapacitating Kong.
Madison, Josh, and Bernie are caught by security and taken to Walter. Despite Ren’s concerns over the power source’s volatility, Walter orders him to activate Mechagodzilla. Now possessed by Ghidorah’s consciousness, Mechagodzilla kills Walter, electrocutes Ren, and then attacks Hong Kong. Godzilla and Mechagodzilla battle, but Godzilla is overwhelmed. Nathan revives Kong by destroying the HEAV on his chest, and Jia convinces him to help Godzilla. As Mechagodzilla overpowers both Titans, Josh short-circuits Mechagodzilla’s controls with Bernie’s flask of liquor on its control panel, momentarily interrupting the mech. Godzilla charges Kong’s axe with his atomic breath, allowing Kong to destroy Mechagodzilla. Madison, Bernie, and Josh reunite with Mark Russell, while Godzilla and Kong acknowledge each other before the two go their separate ways.
Sometime later, Monarch has established an observation post in the Hollow Earth, where Kong now rules.
- Alexander Skarsgård as Dr. Nathan Lind:
A Monarch geologist and chief cartographer who works closely with Kong and charts the mission into the Hollow Earth. Skarsgård described his character as a reluctant hero who is “not an alpha, bad-ass” and “thrown into this very dangerous situation and is definitely not equipped for it.” Skarsgård called Nathan an homage to 1980s films like Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone, Lethal Weapon, and Die Hard. Skarsgård prepped for the film by researching the Hollow Earth, and learning sign language to communicate with Kaylee Hottle.
- Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell:
The daughter of Monarch scientists Mark and the late Emma Russell. Madison believes there is a reason for Godzilla’s erratic behavior, suspecting a conspiracy formulated by the Apex Cybernetics. She proceeds to investigate with Josh Valentine and Bernie Hayes. Brown described the film as a coming of age story for Madison, noting that the character has “grown-up” and become more “independent” since the events of the previous film, stating, “Her storyline has definitely evolved greatly in the way she deals with things, her attitude towards life, how much more stronger of a person.” Producer Alex Garcia described Madison as the “advocate for Godzilla in this film” who tries to “vindicate” Godzilla and his reasons.
- Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews:
A Monarch anthropological linguist, and Jia’s adoptive mother. Hall described her participation as “overwhelming” due to the film being her first project after her pregnancy, but found the experience “thrilling.” Hall described Ilene as “the Jane Goodall of Kong.”
- Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes:
An Apex Cybernetics technician turned conspiracy theorist and whistleblower aiding Madison and Josh to expose Apex. Henry described Bernie as a “crackpot” with a level of “heart” and “loyalty.” Henry noted that the tragic death of Bernie’s wife shaped him to become a conspiracy theorist with a podcast and further elaborated, “his goal is to use the tools at his disposal to bring the truth to the people. I always refer to Bernie as Anonymous. He can see the injustices, but no one really listens to him.” Due to Bernie’s protective nature of Madison and Josh, Henry jokingly likened Bernie to Brienne of Tarth.
- Shun Oguri as Ren Serizawa:
The son of the late Monarch scientist Ishirō Serizawa, and Apex’s chief technology officer, who is the telepathic pilot for Mechagodzilla. Oguri described Ren’s goal as trying to “protect the Earth,” however, the means to his goal differ from “everyone else, and his father.” Oguri noted that Ren “sort of” followed in his father’s footsteps but stated, “he doesn’t believe he was heard by his father.” Wingard stated that the character was underwritten due to a lack of time to explore the character and felt it was interesting to leave him a mystery.
- Eiza González as Maia Simmons:
A top-tier Apex Cybernetics executive, and Walter Simmons’ daughter. González described her role as a “very smart woman behind a company.” She also described the film as “slightly comedic.” González noted having enjoyed the fact that her character was a Latina woman with a high position within a company, and not forced into a stereotype.
- Julian Dennison as Josh Valentine:
A friend of Madison aiding her and Bernie to investigate the source of Godzilla’s erratic behavior. Dennison described his character as a “nerd” and Madison as his “only friend.” Dennison called Josh, Madison’s “tech wingman,” and the “realist in the duo,” stating, “he kind of brings it, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t do that because we’ll die.’ And she’s, ‘No, it will be fine.’ So, I think they play very well. And they’re a very good mix of just craziness.” Dennison screen-tested with Brown using scenes from Romeo and Juliet.
- Lance Reddick as Guillermin:
The director of Monarch. Reddick’s role was originally larger, Wingard stated, “There was a scene earlier in the film, a big board room scene where they’re setting up the mission. He had a larger role, but ultimately we didn’t need that scene.” He only appears in two brief scenes.
- Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell:
Madison’s father, Monarch’s deputy director of special projects, and an animal behavior and communication specialist.
- Demián Bichir as Walter Simmons:
Maia’s father, CEO, and founder of Apex Cybernetics, a tech organization invested in trying to solve the Earth’s “Titan problem,” secretly creating Mechagodzilla to exterminate them. Walter is a visionary entrepreneur and billionaire who wants to help humanity and make the world a safer place, but clashes with Monarch over their differing ideals on what is best for humanity. Producer Alex Garcia said Walter “has risen to a place… in the seats of power, and is wanting to help to stem and stop the madness and the destruction.” Garcia stated that Walter is not necessarily a villain or a Machiavellian character but is “a very complex character who believes he’s doing the right thing. And he may be, but that’s where the mystery at the core of the film comes into play.”
- Kaylee Hottle as Jia:
A young, deaf orphan Iwi native who forms a special bond with Kong, and is Ilene’s adopted daughter.
Additionally, Hakeem Kae-Kazim portrays Admiral Wilcox; Ronny Chieng portrays Jay Wayne; John Pirruccello portrays Horace; and Chris Chalk portrays Ben. Animation supervisor Eric Petey portrayed Kong through performance and facial capture. Zhang Ziyi and Jessica Henwick were cast but did not appear in the final cut of the film, with Ziyi intended to have been reprising her role from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
- Alexander Skarsgård as Dr. Nathan Lind:
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