Big Lizard vs. Big Monkey, who are you taking?

Originally published on Sumner Newscow on April 9, 2021

Happy Friday. It’s not often that I get excited for events happening in Wellington when I’m not there, but this is one exception. The Regent is playing Godzilla vs. Kong again this weekend, 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and an extra screening Sunday at 2 p.m.

Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe took off, there’s been a mad dash from other franchises to build up their own “universes” even if they have to rush. While the DC Comics equivalent has only managed to produce 1.5 good movies, the aptly named “MonsterVerse” where Kong and Godzilla live is thriving.

Maybe you aren’t up to date on what’s happening in the MonsterVerse and what brought these giants to battle. So let me bring you up to speed. Yes, this will contain spoilers, but only from the previous movies, and I promise you, the plots have nothing to do with what makes this movie great.

Big (silly) Premise

The premise that underscores each of these movies is a masterclass in nonsense writing. Godzilla, Kong, Mothra, and any other giant monster they cook up are called “Titans” and some are more sinister than others.

The biggest conceit these films rely on is the Hollow Earth conspiracy theory. Flat Earthers even make fun of the hollow Earth theory because it is laughably dumb, but it doesn’t matter because it’s 100 percent real in this world. The jest is that there are tunnels coming from the middle of the (hollow) Earth where these Titans romp and play by themselves, gravity be damned.

A few years ago, a couple of these Titans came to the surface because humanity was messing up the environment. Why did they care if their hollow Earth home was just fine? Shut up, you’re thinking too hard, these are movies with giant monster fights.

So now, Godzilla and Kong both think they’re the “king of monsters,” even though Godzilla is bigger, can swim, and can shoot lasers out of his mouth, they somehow still have a long standing rivalry.

The humans also run around pursuing some kind of “plot,” but I promise you, that never matters and you don’t need to pay attention to it to enjoy this monster movie.

Big Lizard

Let’s start with Godzilla, our protagonist, and the “King of Monsters” if you take the tagline from his last movie seriously. He’s the crown jewel of the MonsterVerse and spent his first two movies whooping the a*ses of any other Titan to cross his path.

He isn’t like the previous iterations of Godzillas that just pop by Tokyo every once in a while to rough up the place. In this world, he’s the protector of the world from all the “bad” Titans that think they’re strong enough to take on the champ.

The best thing about this version of Godzilla is that he has strong feelings and motivations. He is moody, he holds a grudge, and he is always down to fight, on sight, to prove he’s the best. He cares not for property damage (and seems to go out of his way to cause as much as possible) and really just wants to tussle with whomever he can find.

The good news for him is that there is also a…

Big Monkey

Kong Skull Island is easily the best movie in the MonsterVerse to date and follows the most charismatic Kaiju to ever grace the big screen. Kong lives on his own island in the Pacific where he’s worshiped by a thriving tribe of indigenous people (who are swept away without a word in this movie, which is unfortunate).

A quick aside: Kong is never referred to as “King Kong” in these films, but they go out of their way to make the most heavy-handed King references I’ve ever seen. At least thrice in Godzilla vs. Kong, one of our protagonists (there are at least four) says the phrase “Kong kneels to nobody.”

Kong loves his little island, but he’s trapped in a closed dome. He can’t get off the island, but they insist on keeping him in an enclosed stadium for reasons they never explain. My guess is because they’re shielding him from the monsoon-level rains that are happening whenever they do an establishing shot. Seriously, watch this movie and count how many times it is heavily raining for no other reason than to be dramatic.

So, why is King Kong even in this movie? Because they need him to lead them to the center of the hollow Earth. Why do they need him to do that? It is extremely unclear. But, once again, the plot of this movie does not matter and every scene there isn’t a big fight is just setting up for the next scene that there is.

Speaking of which…

Big Fight

This is what we signed up for. I love monster movies and these filmmakers know how to make one. In 2013’s Man of Steel, Superman destroyed Metropolis, killing tens of thousands, and every fan was rightfully upset. Superman doesn’t kill people, that’s like his whole thing so why would they make a movie like that?

Godzilla vs. Kong is not constrained by these limitations. Without spoiling what happens, Godzilla and Kong fight several times over the course of the movie and the death count must be in the millions. The creators of this movie are not concerned with the moral dilemmas going on in these giant monsters’ brains.

They made a movie called Godzilla vs. Kong and that’s what they gave us.

The fights manage to be interesting even though, logically, there is no reason Kong should even get close to our undisputed champion. Even though they are giant, vicious monsters, they portray a personal relationship and the finale of their last fight actually resolves their differences (but my lips are sealed on who makes it out on top).

Godzilla vs. Kong is one of the first action movies I’ve seen in a long time to actually understand the assignment. The Fast and the Furious franchise is too stupid and the characters are awful so even though they also put out dumb action movies, they aren’t enjoyable. This Kaiju movie on the other hand clearly knows what it’s doing and you should definitely take the time to watch it at your local theatre.

I’m team Kong by the way.

Meme of the week

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