We would like to thank Insight Edition for this opportunity to review this book.
Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall: The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale goes behind the scenes of the biggest battle in movie history, with this deluxe book that explores the art and making of Godzilla vs. Kong, and there is a key phrase in that sentence, art and making of. While the title suggest art there is more to this book but will it be enough to satisfy fans. First some of the basics, the book is split into seven sections, with some of those having sub sections, so we will take a look at each section to give some of our opinions of each.
The Ultimate Matchup, this section give the overview of the film mostly being from Adam Wingard's and Legendary's production team, like Jay Ashenfelter, and others, perspective; it also goes over some of what came before Godzilla 2014, Kong Skull Island, and the Monsterverse in general. It also goes into the early shooting of the film, locations and more, this section does not include much art but that comes later, sort of a slow burn if you will.
Monarch And Apex, this section as its title suggest is about the two key organizations in the film, it also goes in to some depth into the characters split up between Team Godzilla, Team Kong, and Monarch, the good guys section you can say, than Apex Cybernetics and those on that side. Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) has the largest section with all the others having smaller sections dedicated to them, I do wish they went more into the backstories of some like Jia (Kaylee Hottle), this section again like the previous one has very little art (but does have character pictures).
The Champ: Godzilla, this section as it is pretty clear pertains to Godzilla, it goes into some of his backstory as well as the Gulf Coast attack, there isn't a ton of information but one must remember not much has actually changed with him. We do start getting more art but it is mostly typical Godzilla being Godzilla shots, also the "Champ" designation is more based on the last film since we haven't got to the fight yet.
The Challenger: Kong, this section is where the book starts to hit its stride, it goes into Kong's development from the events of Skull Island till current day, and how much Kong is very human in his personality and nature. It also looks at Kong's design, updating and aging him, by Scanline, Weta, MPC to give him his final look in the film. Kong learning to sign was not an easy task and they used a sign language translator to help. Then there was Skull Island while we know what was seen in the film the art seems to hint at more including the Iwi with their stone wall, and how they captured Kong. Also part of this section is the Battle at Sea, it gives a lot of insight to this sequence which had to not only deal with Godzilla and Kong's first real battle but having a good portion taking place underwater. Scanline VFX did most of the work for this, they did the water sequences in The Meg, and Aquaman both which had great underwater scenes.
The Hollow Earth, this is the section that I was personally looking forward to because of the amazing visuals in the film, and I got some other interesting tidbits I didn't expect. They use ideas like Jules Vernes Journey to the Center of the Earth as inspiration. The entry point is in fact Outpost 32, Ghidorah's location from King Of The Monsters, which leads one to believe he was trying to get into the Hollow Earth. This section goes into the design if the HEAV's which at some point appear to have vehicles in them. It continues to the Geography Of Hollow Earth and it weird gravity and formations, it also starts hinting that there was sequences where the human characters were exploring Hollow Earth and the discovery of a crashed Osprey which was where Nathan Lind's brother had died. It goes into Kong's temple including the variety of designs that they came up with, and Kong's Axe or scepter if you will. It then goes into the creatures of Hollow Earth, the Warbats, Hellhawk, Shimidah (an unseen titan), Rock Critter (crab), and well Doug for lack of an official name, who is suggested to be an off shoot of Godzilla (long lost cousin maybe). This section makes up a lot from the art standpoint of the previous sections.
The Upstart: Mechagodzilla, this is another section highly looked forward to, it gives some of the backstory behind his creation, as well as his design evolution. Some designs were very slick with other very industrial, there is also a centerfold showing different angles of one design. Mechagodzilla's design went through more tweaks than any of the other Titans in the film. This section also goes into Apex Hong Kong and the Psionic Control Room (Ghidorah's skull/brain).
The Main Event, as you might expect this is the showdown we were waiting for, this section has a balance of art and text giving some information on the scene but personally I was hoping for more. Some art shots are very typical Godzilla and Kong mid fight, Kong or Godzilla in dramatic shots but feels it is missing something. There is a bit on Hong Kong but again was hoping for more like Hong Kong lit up like in the film. There is then the final battle where Godzilla and Kong team up to take down Mechagodzilla most of these shots are dark and don't give much detail, and there isn't a ton of text to balance it out. The final page has a brief recap and a pic of Godzilla and Kong face to face.
Overall the book is not bad but it has some areas where it could have been better. One issue starts right at the beginning with the title with only "Art", and not "Making Of" in it, fans may be disappointed if the expectation is for more art in it. There are certain parts that are pretty darn good, the Hollow Earth section is by far the best part, but is that enough for the price of admission so to speak, it depends. I believe part of the problem with these books is source material and it is possible Insight Editions did the best they could with that. I would say if you are art book collector and are into this genre get the book, otherwise it truly comes down to how you feel are the few good/great sections enough.