Thursday, April 8, 2021

Godzilla Vs Kong Vs Expectations

That was a ridiculously long wait.  First due in the fall of 2019, then it was supposed to be a fantastic Fiftieth birthday present for me, untill the plague struck.

The latest outing in Legendary's Monsterverse came out and I was a bit first, briefly.

See, my expectations were set based on the glorious ability of Godzilla King of the Monsters to expertly recapture the feeling of Showa era Godzilla flicks, but on a higher budget.

The shifting of directors and criminal under-performance at the box office of that movie probably led to a change in philosophy.

I love King Kong movies, about the giant, feral primate with an emotional and protective core.

But I REAAAAAALY LOVE Godzilla movies, about the personification (or Kaijufication) of forces of nature in enormous, insane creatures with varied personalities.

After an early recalibration, all disappointment was gone.

The film was an excellent sequel to the awesome in its own right Kong of Skull island, carrying many of the same themes and ideas.  For this story, Kong is the protagonist. He's the character that takes the biggest personal journey in the movie. There were elements of the last Godzilla film, including the King of the Monsters himself, that were treated well and added into the mix more and more as the story unfolded for a series of giant exciting monster battles as it got exponentially more crazy awesome as it progressed.

Some reviewers are giving this film low marks based solely on the humans' story and human characters because....


They're morons.

Fitting for a tale based around combat of a giant radioactive dinosaur and Eighth Wonder of the World sized ape- the "land at the center of the earth" concept is a 1930's pulp inspired, science fiction idea that blends in great with the giant beasts.  Throw in the classic Godzilla idea of a corrupt corporation trying to take advantage of all the weirdness and it fits the genre well.

All the bad guys were greedy, rude, dishonest, and met very satisfying gigantic monster applied ends.

The good people were all fun to watch, and drew attention to the creatures instead of away from them. (I'm looking at you, again,  Godzilla 2014.)

There was a small, allied group for each monster. The Kong Gang featuring an exciting bunch with a cute little girl (Kayee Hottle) from Skull Island to provide the classic human connection to the giant ape.  Her adoptive mom, and Kong expert scientist (Iron Man 3's Rebecca Hall) and the requisite Hollow Earth enthusiast ( Alexander "Tarzan" Skarsgard) rounded out the trio.   They tooled around in a cool craft that resembled some of the Heisei "Super X" aircraft designs.

The Godzilla Gang brought back Millie Bobby Brown, who is always great, and teamed her up with the kid from Deadpool 2 (Julian Dennison), and an adult, off kilter, Titan conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry) that all brought a lot of humor to the action.

Speaking of returns, we got some nifty ones by creatures we've seen before on Skull Island, a new monstrous flying serpent (shades of Q), plus an awesome surprise or two.

And that's why we're all watching this, for the creatures.  
And man did it deliver!  
The movie was titled Godzilla Vs Kong  and that is one hundred percent what we got.  Each monster got several moments to shine solo, but it was the battles in multiple sites that far exceeded the price of admission.

Mortal Kombat style, they end up with a best of three series of conflicts that were all epic and awesome.  While there were a few fun nods to their 1962 original meeting, this time we got a definitive winner. I won't spoil it...
Except for those that know me really well by saying the correct one wins and was done in an accurate fashion.

However, the loser makes and excellent showing as well and gets his own, equally impressive victory as it plays out.

Much like the lunatic paleontologist on the space station pointed out last time they met, "Kong is a thinking animal."  It shows in much of his combat style, and interaction with humans.  The chest thumping, larger, (but just as complex as his introduction film in this universe) Kong displayed planning, tool use and unbridled jungle power and agility.

Going back to his roots from the time of their first fracas, Godzilla trashed the human made world in an epic manner for much of this film. Because Godzilla is awesome, we learn he had a good reason...besides the fact that humanity is pretty much beneath him on many levels.  He remained a force of nature with his own motivations, animalistic combat style, and wicked cool atomic breath.    

It's clear that the under performance of King of the Monsters  (which I still blame on the fact the preceding film was dull enough to have my whole family, and the Japanese family sitting near us complaining about it loudly as we left the theater) affected this movie.

Kyle Chandler (Ms. Brown's movie Dad) has a tiny part in Monarch settings that seem to be missing bits.  Also there's a "Serizawa" character with no reference to what his connection is to the one who sacrificed himself to save Godzilla.  Then there's all the others announced in the cast (including Zhang Ziyi reprising her "Mothra Twins" role) that never showed up in the final film.

However, the picture rivaled the awesomeness of the first Kong film and included many fantastic Godzilla parts, and I sincerely hope it gets a theatrical revival when we're all vaccinated enough to see it on a big screen together.  

Final thoughts:
The score was good, but nowhere near the dance in the theater, buy the CD immediately and play it in the car all the time awesomeness that was Bear McCreary's Toho tribute filled musical backing of King of the Monsters.  The Godzilla theme use was similar to the classic one but considerably off. Anabelle summed it up nicely, "It's too close. It should be the real one, or completely different."

Still, it was filled with fun, and I greatly appreciated the loopy moment, handled with great drama none the less, that called back to both the 1962 original AND the awesomely goofy King Kong Lives. 

Overall, its an awesome monster battle film, worthy of inclusion in the Godzilla Litany, which I will get to after watching it a few more two days in a row clearly wasn't enough to get all the nuances. (Or perhaps I was cheering too much to notice everything.)

I'm sure I'll have no problem watching it some more...

Right after I watch Godzilla King of the Monsters again...


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