On my journey through the Godzilla and Kong movies to get to the debut of Godzilla vs Kong, I have come to love the series for all that is good and bad about it. The positives and negatives seem to come in equal proportion, and the victories and mistakes are as large as the main characters. Therefore, I was sad to see the credits roll on Godzilla vs Kong. And while I cannot say it was a great movie, maybe not even all that good, it was fulfilling in its ability to, one more time, provide giant monsters roaring and mashing and destroying cities.
The last installment in this series was not the worst (Godzilla: King of the Monsters was guaranteed that spot), and it was far from the best, but it provided what fans asked for- Kong, Godzilla, massive fights, and Mecha-Godzilla. And maybe this specific desired recipe made the movie feel all too contrived.
Godzilla vs Kong was at its best when the monsters were mashing. It is hard not to be entertained by a giant gorilla and lizard, say, leaping from aircraft carrier to aircraft carrier in a battle to the death. But these bouts were often unsatisfying because there wasn’t any story to move the scene along in a way that made sense. For example, the fight with the aircraft carriers ended when all the boats turned off their engines with an almost dead Kong onboard, leading the bloodthirsty Godzilla, who came to kill Kong, to swim away.
What the hell??
We just established these two behemoths were fighting to the death, to become alpha in the world of titans. But… maybe… if we stop some puny boat engines Godzilla will take a timeout while Kong is on the ropes? It is this type of human narcissism, the need to have the humans play a meaningful role- outside of their own safety and survival- in affecting the outcomes of the battle of the titans that leads to weird moments like this (and it happened in King of the Monsters as well).
However, because of the story, the monsters needed to have a preliminary fight, so they had one, and then limped apart. The fight was fun and memorable, but… contrived, with no organic storytelling by which the fight came together and separated. The same goes for all the technology in this movie and the last. The human race went on a technology splurge in the wake of Godzilla’s first attack, and it makes sense, but it was overdone. The movie felt like a mix between Tron, Ready Player One, and a Marvel film. But they wanted to establish a base to create Mecha-Godzilla, which was cool, and the battle with Mecha-Godzilla was pretty awesome, but the road to get there was bumpy, because it was forced.
And none of the fighting really mattered. The first Godzilla was awesome because it made me cringe every time an apartment building tumbled as I thought of the potential death toll or the task to rebuild the damage. And we were never sure how much of the world these monsters would destroy, we just knew that something needed to be done to stop them. Humanities fate was on the line. In Godzilla vs Kong everything felt isolated. A city was being destroyed sure, but it barely looked real, as if we were watching an animated film, and there was no story of humanity trying to preserve their creation to lend weight to what was happening. No unbeckoned-for concern about the clean-up effort or the refugee camps that would need to be established. No fear for the loss of human life, no real significance to these behemoths waging war on each other. But the fight was cool, so it kind of didn’t matter.
In another way, Kong: Skull Island made viewers care about the individuals that might die as a result of Kong’s war. The movie told a great human story, and with great acting, viewers were concerned about the well-being of Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston and John C. Reilly, and therefore, on edge as Kong did battle. In G vs Kany one of the main characters could have died, and it may have been a relief. The beginning of G vs K did a good job of making Kong the sympathetic hero, but that only makes the fight as good as any that might happen between two people or animals of normal size. The magnitude of Kong and Godzilla demands an equal-sized impact for their battling. Instead, this could have been a street brawl between Kyle Chandler’s character, and the villain to the same effect (not a bad idea… at least it would have given Kyle Chandler something to do).
And this isn’t even to mention Kong journeying to the center of the earth which is actually hollow, and getting a giant glowing axe, and Godzilla drilling a hole to the center of the earth with his dragon breathe, or any number of detours or re-routes that the story added to try and get these monsters together to fight.
So I guess what I am saying is, for a movie where the best parts were when two giant titans were duking it out in the streets of Hong Kong, they sure took one hell of a trip to get there.
Godzilla vs Kong was fine, it gave us what we wanted. But sometimes simpler is better. I can’t help but salivate over the potential movie this could have been. Where Kong comes to America (no crazy storyline necessary, human greed or climate change destroying Skull Island would do) and Godzilla comes to ‘balance’ the world once again. Give me a few human characters in high power position using a ‘contingency plan’ they have been creating since 2014, and now all the pieces are in place. Tell the story from the humans look up at their awesome size and power and voila. We didn’t need all the…contrivances.
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