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Monster movies…redux April 10, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Amazed I am, amazed, to learn how successful Godzilla Vs Kong has been. Streaming has not dimmed its appeal, marking a significant uptick from the last film, getting at least $285m worldwide – and to date the third highest grossing film of this year.

Still, that may be no great surprise. Given the pandemic watching monsters (ahem, I mean of course ‘Titans’) slugging it out in Florida and Hong Kong and various points in-between is probably a blessed relief.

I was entertained, that’s for sure, though the bits in between the fights were cursory to the point of insulting. There were two major plot elements I will not mention here, but it’s not exactly news to say that characterisation of the human participants was minimal. And yet for all that, I’ve loved this franchise – entitled the Monsterverse, and the wildly inconsistent offerings we’ve been given from the off. The first Godzilla film, courtesy of director Gareth Edwards, was almost (almost) cerebral in its approach. Kong: Skull Island was pulpy but so committed to its material that the Vietnam War/Monster crossover (and its far from implicit critique of imperialism) was hugely entertaining. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was… different. Long, very very long. Ponderous, with too much emphasis on CGI. Not a great film and yet some great moments throughout.

Which brings us to the battle of the Titans. Now I’m all for a speedy film, and this certainly zipped along but I could have done with say ten extra minutes here and there to introduce characters and basic plot points. For example, again, no spoiler – there’s Monarch, the Titan control organisation (though control might be stretching it, given the ability of most of the Titan’s to breach any and every containment). But there’s also a newly involved corporation, called Apex. There’s no clear explanation as to the relationship between the two, though relationship there must be given the plot of the film. You’d think there’d be two minutes of explanation. But no… on the film goes.

There’s blink and you’ll miss them appearances of actors – Kyle Chandler (beloved of Friday Night Lights) is particularly ill served; the fantastic Lance Riddick of Lost and Fringe fame is given, count ’em, two lines of dialogue and no introduction even though (looking it up after) he is the CEO of Monarch, and even Rebecca Hall and Millie Bobby Brown must be wondering how they earned their pay checks given their total screen time probably amounts to fifteen minutes or so each, and even there I’m being generous.

Then again in a film where people screaming in the face of flailing arms, tails and other parts of skyscraper sized monsters is a feature not a glitch, perhaps acting is in any real sense redundant.

On the other hand, in a world where superhero films of remarkable similarity have debased the term ‘spectacle’ this was indeed a spectacle and spectacular. Thrill to the protagonists fighting on an aircraft carrier, marvel at how tall Kong has grown, be baffled by subsequent plot points. Or to put it another way the film makes not a bit of sense, even accounting for its initial premise.

There’s hints that there may be further additions to the Monsterverse – particular given the film has done so well. I kind of hope so. It’d be good to see what they do given a little less pressure to wrap up this particular part of the story, and one imagines there’s no end of potential narrative paths ahead. But for my money the first two are the best in the series – and Kong: Skull Island a nose ahead at that, being a genuinely entertaining film that does no more than it sets out to accomplish but does it supremely well. And in this world today, that’s no small thing.

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