Did you watch Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max or in a theater recently? If you did, there's a high chance you're in a great mood. Why? Because that movie kicked ass. It was everything I wanted a giant kaiju movie to be.
If you didn't watch it, go off and do that. Otherwise, spoilers will follow.
Let's beat our chests and talk some giant animal wars.
Godzilla vs. Kong Finally Embraced the Fun of Kicking Some Ass
The original Gareth Edwards' Godzilla was Jaws,and its sequel was more like Arrival. Both focused on humans understanding a beast and its place in our world. Was Godzilla a hero or a villain? We weren't sure, but we were trying to find out. While these movies delivered a lot of backstory and moral questions, they were very serious. There were thousands if not millions of human deaths in them.
The same goes for the nihilistic Vietnam War iteration of Kong: Skull Island. This movie had a dark sense of humor and pitted Kong against skull crawlers, with humans just looking onward as they try to leave the island. But what none of the movies really did was lean into the ridiculousness of the idea of these giant titans. This didn't make them bad, but I think the audience got a little tired of the awe of destruction.
Let's be honest, we all had a long year of quarantine and wanted to cut loose. That's what this movie was all about. From very early on, we see Kong scratching his ass and living in a terrarium. The sense of humor and just embracing the ludicrous was finally here.
The basic plot sends Godzilla out for revenge against an international corporation who is trying to build weapons to hold him off. I honestly thought that corporation had a point. (But that's a topic for a different time.) Meanwhile, two scientists and an adopted child are taking Kong to help them find a part of the Hollow Earth. Godzilla smells him and because they are ancient rivals, attacks.
From there on, we travel loosely through the plot as Godzilla and Kong battle it out. Oh, and did I mention that Kong knows sign language, like a big Coco? And he finds an ancient ax made of a Godzilla spike that he can use in warfare?
The movie takes a turn when scientists lose control of their Godzilla deterrent, MechaGodzilla, and both Kong and Zilla have to team up to take him out in the middle of Hong Kong. And it's as cool as you would imagine. The effects are daring. The city is evacuated so you aren't worried about children dying. You just get to enjoy the levity within the destruction.
We see Kong swim and use tools. We see Godzilla drill a hole into the center of the earth with his breath. We have a giant, brain-controlled robot that goes haywire and needs to be stopped. There's punching, headlocks, a near-drowning, and the mayhem we have always wanted. The scale here is unseen before. In previous Godzilla films, we kinda just saw him wandering. Even when Kong and Godzilla fought other creatures, it felt dire. Here it feels like they know the audience wanted to have some fun.
The characters in this movie are undercover podcasters, precocious kids, and dastardly businessmen. The super-serious scientists still talk to an ape with ASL and scream and shout as they hurtle into the center of the earth, expanding their knowledge of pseudoscience and delivering quippy lines.
This movie is successful because it finally gave us the perspective we wanted from such a ridiculous premise. Sure, the characters in the movie are taking their situation seriously, but the audience is allowed to enjoy this without thinking of casualties. Well, maybe we do when Zilla takes out those Navy ships, but since they were filled with evil scientists (probably), we are okay with it.
When people talk about books like Save the Cat, they talk about something called "The Promise of the Premise." It refers to why people put their butts in the seats to watch. In this movie, we desperately wanted to see these two fight.
In fact, for most of the runtime, we did. And at the end, we got a tease that any monster from Hollow Earth could pop up in the future. Like maybe a Destroy All Monsters homage...
The movie did almost $10 million at the box office on Wednesday, signaling a return in the post-COVID world. Hopefully, everyone going was vaccinated. Regardless, millions more tuned in through HBO Max, and the title went viral on social media.
It will be interesting to see if this new, fun tone makes a comeback because of this movie. We've been through a lot in the last year, and letting loose with a movie like this seemed to be just what was ordered.
Do you agree this movie's priority of fun is what made it so good? Let us know in the comments.