Thursday, April 1, 2021

Monkey's Business: GODZILLA VS. KONG

So what if Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong is easily the least of these new Hollywood Godzilla flicks? Sometimes you just want what this thing delivers. It has giant monsters who fight each other three times throughout a relatively trim runtime that collapses into the credits before the two hour mark. It has a team of scientists (and a little deaf orphan) who think Kong can lead them to the Hollow Earth, and corporate stooges who think he’ll lead them to an ancient power source, too. They have to fly around in little spaceship tanks that zip along on neon blue jet trails to survive the pressure of the Earth’s Core. The vehicles make cool little bass-pumping Jetsons noises. There’s a rampaging Godzilla who doesn’t mean it—we know pretty quickly that the lizard’s being provoked by a glowing orb in the secret laboratories of a no-good tech company. A goofy podcaster teams up with a character from Godzilla: King of the Monsters to track down the truth. So we have two sets of characters, each following one half of the title bill around as they do their thing. It’s just a matter of time before the big critters come to blows by land and by sea. And, sure, Kong’s the underdog, but given how much more plot time is given over to him and his supporters, it’s pretty clear the movie’s out to make it an even match.

It’s all about the shallow spectacle. Gone is the majesty and awe of the perfectly proportioned 2014 Godzilla, with its trembling mortals staring up at the monsters spelling certain doom. Gone is the ecological pessimism of its 2019 sequel, a foolish-humanity-eclipsed-by-raw-power-of-nature parable wrapped up in terrifically overheated family drama. This thing’s just an empty go-go-go rock-‘em-sock-‘em effects picture with ramped up cartoony bouts of kaiju combat and long stretches of exposition and pokey CG light shows between. But at least it still has a host of fine character actors (this time Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgård, Brian Tyree Henry and Demián Bechir join the mix) who don’t mind playing second fiddle to two famous monsters of filmland. They stare off at the digital chaos and say things like “Kong bows to no one” or “Those are Skullcrawlers” or “That podcast is filling your head with garbage!” It’s bright and colorful and dumb. And then a building will fall over or lasers will slice out of a shiny glass pyramid or a column of radioactive fire will drill a hole to the center of the earth. Then the roaring and fighting, and running and screaming. Wingard (hit and miss, but his The Guest is a rare Carpenter homage that hits and Death Note is a decent anime riff) is adept at recreating the genre pleasures we need to make it a passable lazy afternoon pleasure.

No comments:

Post a Comment