“Long Live the Kings: Godzilla vs. Kong”
It’s no secret that the Unimonster is a hardcore Kaijû fan. From the time I was five or six, and saw my first Godzilla movie on a Saturday matinee, I was addicted to the city-stomping exploits of Japan’s giant monsters. At that age, I didn’t care if it was Toho’s Godzilla, Daiei’s Gamera, or the lower-budget Kaijû such as Nikkatsu’s Gappa, as long as there were cities being smashed, monsters fighting other monsters, and hordes of Japanese running screaming through the streets of Tokyo, or Yokohama, or Osaka. As I became an older and more discriminating Kaijû-fan, I found that it was the monsters of Toho that gave me the greatest entertainment and satisfaction.
Even now, nearly fifty years later, I still thrill to the sound of Godzilla’s roar, the sight of him rising above a city skyline. Needless to say, the recent series of Kaijû films, co-produced by Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., and Toho, have warmed the cockles of the Unimonster’s dark little heart, so I was eagerly awaiting the debut of the latest entry into this series, Godzilla vs. Kong. Anticipated by fans of Legendary’s Monsterverse franchise at least since 2017’s Kong: Skull Island introduced the giant ape to the series, not only did the movie have to justify the massive hype it received prior to its release, it also had to overcome serious questions about how Kong, who measured 104 feet tall in former film, would battle Godzilla, who was 393 feet tall, with a 200 foot long tail.
Those of us who were Kaijû fans in the ‘60s and ‘70s remember the first meeting of these two titans, in 1963’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, in which Toho declared King Kong the victor. Would this battle have a similar result, or would Godzilla reclaim his title as “King of the Monsters?” Would we fans of the original Toho monsters fully embrace these newer versions of our beloved Kaijû? And could the filmmakers present a believable—and entertaining—fight between our two favorite monsters?
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, and Julian Dennison, and directed by Adam Wingard, the movie takes up a few years following the events in Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Kong, a young Titan in the previous film, has grown to maturity in an enclosure on Skull Island. The enclosure, which uses sophisticated graphics and weather control to duplicate the environment Kong is used to, has sadly become necessary due to the fact that Skull Island is now an ecological disaster zone. It also serves a more important function, that of concealing Kong from Godzilla. Ilene Andrews (Hall) is in charge of Kong’s care, as well as that of Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a young Iwi girl, orphaned in the disaster which befell her island, and who shares a special bond with the gigantic ape. A friend of Ilene’s, a geologist named Nathan Lind (Skarsgård), comes to her with a wild proposal to use Kong to find a way into the “Hollow Earth,” a hidden realm deep beneath the Earth’s mantle which, Lind believes, was where the Titans originated.
Ilene opposes this at first; worried that moving Kong would attract Godzilla. Nathan argues that Kong may be humanity’s only hope against Godzilla, the once-benevolent Titan who seems to have turned against mankind, following an apparently unprovoked attack on a facility belonging to Apex Corporation in Pensacola, Florida. With little choice, Kong is loaded on board a ship, and proceeds towards Antarctica under heavy naval escort. Needless to say, what they had been dreading soon comes to pass, and the two royal Titans are slugging it out on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
I must admit to a little trepidation when the plans for a new series of Godzilla movies were announced more than a decade ago. Memories of the abysmal 1998 film, and of its star, “Gino” (Godzilla in name only), colored my anticipation of a fresh Kaijû franchise. And quite frankly, until the climax of the first in the series, I was unconvinced that my apprehension was misplaced. But when Godzilla pulled the MUTO’s jaws open, and, with his trademark roar, destroyed it with a single blast of his atomic breath—well, I was sold. And each entry in the series has been better than the one before.
I won’t tell you which Titan won; in fact, I’m not sure that I could. As far as I’m concerned, the fans are the real winners. The Unimonster gives it 10/10!
Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2021
Dick Dyszel - Voice Actor