Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Every review keeps bringing up the same issue with this film: the human interaction scenes are boring.

Guess what? We watched about eighty kaiju movies in the last few weeks and can honestly tell you that every single one of those movies can claim just about the same thing, so the venerable Toho got smart and added aliens and ape humans from the future to those scenes, as well as miniature singing women who worship Mothra so that even the non-giant monster moments of their films are real strange.

To those of you not able to name the four different eras of Godzilla films — Showa, Heisei, Millennium and Reiwa — let me tell you, the human moments in this are in no way as bad as All Monsters Attack.

That said, you can literally remove Godzilla and every single human from this movie and you still pretty much could have the same story. This isn’t Godzilla vs. Kong as much as it’s another movie that we could call Kong: Inside the Hollow Earth. Actually, those moments, where Kong and a crew of good and bad scientists goes inside a gravity well to wind up in a Skartaris or Shangri-La or Savage Land inside our planet are some of the best parts of the movie, topped only by Godzilla somehow being able to blast nuclear fire from Hong Kong to the middle of Earth’s core without destroying the entire planet.

So, if we remove those moments of humanity, we really should also just forget the lame conspiracy theory plot with Milly Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople that exists merely to give us exposition, show off some conspiracy theory under the world trains and explain who the big bad really is.

Yes, unlike every human bad guy who has ever gone up against a giant monster, it turns out that owning a big company like Apex Cybernetics and using scientific expeditions to make money never really pays off.

Director Adam Wingard made You’re Next and The Guest. If I hadn’t looked up that he directed this, I would have never known. It’s a writer’s room-made film, with the last creative team making rewrites so that everyone is in character. And it’s another part of the shared universe post-Marvel Cinematic Universe aesthetic, where every movie leads to the next, unlike the Toho films where fans were the ones to create a patchwork No-Prize narrative that barely connects them.

That said, you can just enjoy the huge set pieces here, like Kong and Godzilla battling on the deck of an aircraft carrier and the final battle in Hong Kong. It looks like paintings come to life, the kind of battle between giant monsters that I could only dream of as a child satisfied with foam suits and zipped-in actors.

Ishirô Honda, who directed the original King Kong vs. Godzilla and made a movie that satirized Japanese TV along the way, once said “The reason I showed the monster battle through the prism of a ratings war was to depict the reality of the times. When you think of King Kong just plain fighting Godzilla, it is stupid. But how you stage it, the times in which it takes place, that is the thought process of the filmmaker.”

So is this film dumb? Well, it was sold at some Carl’s Jr. restaurants with Godzilla hamburgers and Kong chicken sandwiches, the exact kind of commercialism that the Toho movie made fun of with Kong yaki noodles. But it is a big tentpole Hollywood movie in the weird second year of there not being a lot of places ready to show it.

But hey, it does have monsters named Titanus Warbats and Kong gets a radioactive axe, so I can’t be all huffy and say that I didn’t enjoy it. I still have an entire shelf full of much better kaiju films — ask me, I’ll recommend like twenty to you — to enjoy whenever I want, but today’s children need a movie like this to get them excited the same way I was back in 1976, going crazy for Kong in theaters and Godzilla on UHF monster host shows.

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