Big reptile, big monkey: A meditation on “Godzilla vs Kong”

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Ethan Axtell, Copy editor

“Godzilla vs Kong.” I keep wanting to write “King Kong vs Godzilla” since that was the title of the original 1962 showdown between these two nasty heavyweights. A film that I actually owned on VHS as a kid. Giving this film a letter grade would be a waste of time, but I will provide a few ways of thinking about the movie.

If you watch “Godzilla vs Kong” as a serious adult film connoisseur, you will probably determine that it is a bad film with a hilariously awful script and poor direction. That’s all true, but if you watch it as a work of children’s entertainment or nonsensical, lowbrow, escapist art then you will really enjoy it.

Jackie Rodriguez, a television and film major, appraised the film from a serious film critic perspective.

“I’ll admit the film had pretty cool visuals/fight scenes, but that didn’t make up for the boring – flat – storyline,” wrote Rodriguez.

Rodriguez added that among the worst of the flaws and weaknesses in the script and overall film, was the characterization of Kong in the beginning of the film, a scene which made her “uncomfortable.”

I was also not fond of that scene either. I particularly took issue with the music it featured, a larger problem that I will outline more explicitly later.

Television and film major Jericho Caleb Dancel offered a nuanced take on the film.
“As a Godzilla fan, the movie is great and delivers on giant monster action that is to be expected from a Godzilla film. But as a film critic, the movie has an interesting setup, but it fails to deliver a definitive or satisfying conclusion,” wrote Dancel.

Other students expressed that although they aren’t partial to this genre of film, they enjoyed this movie for what it is.

I loved Godzilla growing up. I watched movies from all three main eras of the franchise: Showa, Heisei, and Millennium. I bought the toys and video games.

When I watched Godzilla films as a kid, I didn’t care about dialogue. I didn’t care about the human characters. I didn’t even care if the situation made sense.

All I cared about was seeing Godzilla, seeing him torch something with his atomic breath, hearing his amazing unmistakable roar, and maybe most importantly, hearing his theme music.

Godzilla’s theme song is better than Rocky’s theme song. It’s better than Superman’s theme song. It’s better than The Godfather’s theme song. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t have that theme song, but I don’t think today’s generation of kids will be as attached to it as I was and am.

So, I truly believe kids today will really enjoy this film because you get giant ugly monsters attacking each other and city skylines getting obliterated. Especially when you’re a kid who likes kaiju movies, that’s really all you’re hoping for.

If you’re an adult who just wants something to take their mind off of all the serious and bleak things about real life, then I think you’ll really enjoy this film, too. You won’t be thinking about viruses, politics, or finances when you see a giant ax-wielding monkey attacking a radioactive dinosaur in a neon-lit city next to a tunnel that reaches the center of the Earth.

If you’re a longtime Godzilla fan, then you will catch a lot of references to the original 1962 “King Kong vs Godzilla” movie as well as other previous movies in the Godzilla franchise.

Overall, the special effects department should be applauded and also given a bonus or a raise for the sheer volume of work they jammed into this film. They were the clear and unanimous MVPs of this production.

I also liked the whole cast except the villains, who I found to be quite dull and idiotic. All the good guy characters were somewhat underwritten but definitely well-acted.

All the young actors were particularly commendable. I’m talking about Kaylee Hottle, Julian Dennison, and Millie Bobby Brown. As for the adults, Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard were both quite good, and the always magnificent Brian Tyree Henry didn’t disappoint either.

However, I really didn’t like the film’s soundtrack which is a boring original score mixed with random jukebox classics from like 3 million years ago, in reality probably just the 1960’s, that feels entirely out of place in the film. Hearing the Hollies randomly as Kong roams around his domain gave me cognitive dissonance and indigestion.

As a lifelong Godzilla fan, who has seen the full spectrum of Godzilla designs: from high-quality iconic looks to laughably cheap efforts; I was astonished by how ugly and fat Godzilla appeared in this film. I think it might be a reversed reference to the 1962 movie where King Kong was appallingly hideous, but whatever the reasoning, Godzilla looks like an obese albeit sinister chicken-alligator-hybrid in this movie.

Getting back to what is really most important about this movie: it has big monsters roaring, hitting, and burning each other. Those are the main ingredients we are all looking for and they are definitely well-represented in this motion picture.