The Summer of 2014’s blockbuster season opened with a bang in the form of Legendary studio’s re-imagining of the King of all monsters, “Godzilla”. The film soared to new and exciting heights for the big budget monster mash with word of mouth and generally favorable reviews helping to boost its solid earnings. As a self proclaimed lover of the giant monster sub genre of B movies I understand the love of a cheesy monster romp and I adore some of the old Gojira classics, even some Gamera flicks have won my heart in years past. However, I did not particularly love this new iteration of the famed atomic fire breathing baddie/hero/savior/destroyer.
My issues lie in the fact that the movie is incredibly slow for a towering slamfest between monolithic legends, er or at least one legend. I can handle slow movies, (there’s a special place in my heart for “The Good The Bad and The Ugly”) that’s not my personal issue, it’s that if the human melodrama had been compelling in any sense of the word then I would have been fine. The subpar, disinterested, and wooden acting from Aaron Taylor-Johnson was borderline unbearable though. He is the most useless character I have seen in a movie in a long time. He frequently mentions his character’s purpose of disarming, or arming I forget, EODs (bombs) but never once utilizes this skill and somehow gets close to some of the monsters for money shots, but that is the breadth of his character’s usefulness, getting a good shot down. It’s a real shame they wasted Bryan Cranston here as well because while he was onscreen, he was brilliant. Quite a shame. There were several outstanding moments of action that were phenomenal, but an entire movie can’t ride on “That one awesome scene”. And I will give credit where credit is due in that the visual homages to Toho’s Godzilla flicks over the decades of their work was right on the money, specifically in the colorization.
I bring all of this up because recently it was rumored, then confirmed, that Legendary studios will be utilizing their new King Kong feature as an eventual set up for another clash between cinema’s greatest monsters of all time. This is worth getting excited about if you love the genre and the B movie mayhem that flows through the vein of these movies. I certainly do! But my concern here is that if we’re going to have this film exist, then we must at least try and make it compelling when the titular beasts are not onscreen, right? If we’re taking a moment to harken back to the last Kong movie as well and compare it to this latest Godzilla flick, well, I’d have to give it to Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” as the better movie overall. It’s, simply put, a more entertaining film. and structurally I believe it is superior, especially when concerning pacing.
My point being that if this new “Godzilla VS King Kong” movie is to be any good then we have to reassess what makes a monster movie good. There will be several movies before the big showdown between the two heavyweights however so there is plenty of time to prep and train. Godzilla will be getting a sequel in which he will be taking on both the continually underestimated Mothra and the immense brutality of the space dragon known as King Ghidorah as well, that should be a blast. Kong will also be making his debut (again) in a period piece that takes place before the events of last year’s Godzilla flick, along the lines of how Captain America’s origin tale fit within the Marvel Studios universe at the time. At one point both Michael keaton and J.K. Simmons were attached to roles within this film and I am deeply saddened that they will reportedly not be in the flick if reports and rumors are to be believed. This movie can be both bombastic AND compelling if the people involved are willing to learn from their (granted they are “perceived”) mistakes and transcend the expectations of the genre to create something grand. or just fun, as long as it’s good ole escapist fun I will be sated and drunk with happiness.
In today’s world of filmmaking the threat of spectacle may be overwhelming to some, but I say there is room for all types of movies to coexist and this is one I’d gladly see right alongside Spielberg’s upcoming cold war drama “Bridge of Spies”, different stories come with different rules and expectations. Such is the rich world of cinema we find ourselves in today, we can go out and see Danny Boyle’s cold and calculating “Steve Jobs” biopic, or the next offering from Marvel Studio’s pantheon of morality tales. it’s all up to choice at this point, and the future is what we make of it. Hopefully that is a future in which I will not be groaning in the theater at the sight of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s unmotivated face again but one where I am awash in the glory of giant fisticuffs soaring through skyscrapers with at least an ounce of acting charm thrown in for good measure.