The number of films coming out that I’m actually considering paying money to see might be counted on one hand. These are mostly because they are continuations of stories I’m already invested in somehow, or because they seem to be the very odd exceptions to the usual rules of trash Hollywood that somehow slipped through the cracks.
Godzilla vs. Kong is one of those, entirely because I’m a massive Godzilla fan.
I’ll be honest: I don’t think it’ll be good (and it’s liable to be the last new film I ever bother to see as a new film), but I do hope that it will at least provide some satisfying kaiju moments. That’s really how I think of these things at this point: a two-and-a-half-hour fan-art slideshow.
In any case, the trailer finally dropped, confirming that this film is in fact still coming out despite the lackluster box office of every previous film in the Legendary ‘Monsterverse’ series (for the record: I liked Godzilla quite a lot, thought King of the Monsters was extremely stupid in unnecessary ways, but at least paid most of the monsters their due, and found Skull Island alternately delightful and annoying).
First thought: must every trailer for every action movie open with an explosion and that ominous hum?
So, Kong’s on a barge in chains. That’s a good note to start on: very fitting for Kong.
Kong is friends with a little girl. Eh, that seems off to me. Kong’s story is ‘beauty and the beast,’ not ‘innocence and the beast’. That’s a very different tone and I don’t care for the change. Even Skull Island got that right with Bored Larson (the ‘innocence’ connection more fits with Gamera than Kong).
The story seems to be the Godzilla has suddenly started attacking people for an unknown reason, casting him as the heavy in this film. I will say, I’m glad that they’re pulling back from the overtly heroic role they had him playing in the previous two films. Godzilla in my mind needs to have that air of danger and wildness to him: he’s noble and can be heroic, but he should never seem safe. The essence of his character is to be the embodiment of things that man cannot control: the unexpected consequences that can’t be shoved back into the box. He is a reminder that mankind is not an absolute ruler of the world, but subject to higher laws that we cannot evade or overrule. So I’m all on board with him actually attacking people this time around. The dialogue implies there’s some larger threat at work that will serve as a common enemy to both Kong and Godzilla, which I’m also onboard with (I remember reading a fan-fiction version of Kong vs. Godzilla many years ago where Gigan was the villain. It’s probably too much to hope for that here, but it’s not impossible I suppose. Though I can’t help thinking Kong wouldn’t last long against him).
As for what actually goes on in the trailer, well, Kong seems to be getting the better of things much more than I like to see (is it me, or do filmmakers have trouble showing balanced fights these days?). The action is way over the top to the point of being ridiculous (Godzilla and Kong both actually stand on a ship and fight? Yeah, that’s not happening). I like Kong making crude weapons for himself, but that shot at the end of Kong leaping at Godzilla and ‘catching’ his ray on the ax…well, one, the ax should melt, and two, all Godzilla has to do is adjust his aim a little bit, so…yikes. Not a good sign.
I really don’t like the music either. Rap (or whatever this is) doesn’t fit kaiju at all in my mind. It’s too American and it’s too undignified. The kaiju are warriors, not thugs (well, a character like Gigan might work with rap), especially Godzilla and Kong. Plus, come on: every action trailer has this kind of music in it. Kong and Godzilla want lush, heavy orchestral scores, or maybe metal guitar riffs, not generic gangster tunes.
My biggest worry going in, however, is that I strongly suspect they’re going to give the fight to Kong on the grounds that he’s the underdog. The issue I have with this is very much the same as in Batman v Superman (well, one of many, many issues I have with that film): strong as the meta-fictional rivalry is, the logic of the characters themselves dictates that the fight can only end one way. But instead of following that out, we give it to the ‘favored’ character, thereby cheapening them both and blatantly showing the writer’s hand.
Yes, Kong won in the original King Kong vs. Godzilla. But the thing with that is that Godzilla was still a pretty new character at that point and a solid villain, while Kong was a well-established and fairly beloved figure. The Godzilla ‘rules’ hadn’t been quite worked out yet, and even then it was a close fight that ended on an ambiguous note. That’s not the case anymore: Godzilla is at least as well-established as Kong, and his ‘rules’ have become pretty well set. It’s similar to the difference between Fleischer Superman and modern Superman. And those rules dictate that he should win any fight with Kong hands down.
(Another reason I like Freddy vs. Jason: the writers followed through on this and gave the fight – as far as it went – to the logical winner, even though he was the less prestigious character).
But that still remains to be seen. All signs seem to point to the filmmakers giving it to Kong, but maybe they’ll surprise me.
In any case, I’ll be seeing it, but I’m not recommending it to anyone not already interested. It looks like a big, stupid blockbuster employing characters I love, and my hope is that they at least pay them their due respects.