Even after Wonder Woman 1984 arrived in December, audiences are still hungry for massive blockbuster action. Thankfully, Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max will be giving it to us throughout the year, both in theaters and on the WarnerMedia streaming service. One of the first huge blockbusters out of the gate under this new deal will be Godzilla vs. Kong, recently bumped up from a May release to earlier in March. If the first Godzilla vs Kong trailer is any indicator, this is going to be an absolute blast.
Godzilla vs Kong
Godzilla seems to have turned on humanity, but nobody knows why. That’s where King Kong comes into play. Captured on Skull Island, the full-grown ape now matches the size of Godzilla, and humanity needs him to stop the lizard’s path of destruction, making for an epic, destructive battle. This first trailer gives us a glimpse at two of the fights between the titular titans, one that happens in the middle of the ocean on an aircraft carrier like some kind of arcade game. The other unfolds in a neon cityscape, which we’re assuming is Tokyo, and it gives us one of the most badass moments in the entire trailer.
On the human side of the story, Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) reprises her role from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Along with Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2) and Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk), she believes that there’s some mysterious reason that Godzilla has turned against humanity, and she’s dedicated to figuring it out. Then there’s Rebecca Hall, who appears to be an expert on King Kong. She also shares a bit of a bond with the giant ape, because they’ve both taken to protecting a young orphan girl, one who seems to be the key to getting Kong to fight Godzilla on behalf of the humans.
This looks like a huge 1990s blockbuster in the best way possible. I’m getting Independence Day vibes mixed with Pacific Rim. The music in the trailer alone got me pumped as hell. It doesn’t match the throwback vibe of the movie, but it underscores the battle between these two titans so perfectly. Hopefully there’s a decent story here to go along with all the blockbuster spectacle.
Godzilla vs. Kong is directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch) with a script from Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein. The rest of the cast includes Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), Shun Oguri (Gintama), Eiza González (Baby Driver), Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist), Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Demian Bichir (The Nun).
Legends collide in Godzilla vs. Kong as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.
Later this month, the earth is going to quake as cinema’s two biggest (and oldest) titans starting punching each other’s lights out in Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong. Like other “vs” movies of this stature, this represents not one epic cinematic event but two. Though these particular versions of these characters are relatively new, both have decades (almost a century in Kong’s case) of iconography behind them that can be intimidating to viewers who don’t know their history, but don’t want to feel lost as they pummel each other.
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is King Kong’s story is fairly simple and won’t take long to get through. The bad news is Godzilla. Not only has he appeared in dozens of films – with multiple narrative reboots – over the last half-century, but he is also the one most likely to stop your city and raise your insurance premiums. He’s just bad news incarnate.
But we’ll get to all that. Let’s start simple with Kong…
The Eighth Wonder of the World
King Kong is a giant ape who lives on a remote island shaped like a skull filled with tons of other horrific monsters. The famous story of Kong – originated in 1933’s King Kong and retold several times since – involves a down on his luck filmmaker who charters a boat to a mysterious island filled with amazing undiscovered wild creatures to shoot the movie that will make his career. Under the guise of straight-up dishonesty, he cobbles together a crew and a desperate actress and gets them all to this place filled with horrors where most of them die.
The island also has a native population who worship Kong and sacrifice ladies to him. They want to sacrifice the actress, but the crew is like “screw that.” These folks abduct her and offer her up to Kong anyway. The mighty Kong arrives and steals the actress. The crew is like “screw that” and they go to rescue her. Despite being woefully unequipped to traverse the dangers of Skull Island, some of them manage. Then the filmmaker drugs Kong and takes him back to New York to be a sideshow. He wakes up, says “screw this,” grabs the girl again, climbs atop the Empire State Building and gets shot to death.
Kong is special for a lot of reasons. Even way back in 1933 (which, as you can probably already tell from this synopsis, was far from a woke era), they knew to make him a figure of pathos rather than abject terror. Kong is scary, to be sure. But he falls in love with the actress, and rather than murder her, strives to protect her from the dangers of Skull Island. Kong didn’t stomp into New York City looking to make trouble. A super jerk enslaved and exploited him. Furthermore, Kong earns the title of “King” by being the most feared figure on an island teeming with monsters that would otherwise star in their own horror films. So in addition to emotional resonance, Kong wins the audience’s respect for being a top-tier badass. We feel for Kong and see his eventual death as tragic.
Kong’s cinematic journey is short. You basically have the prime story told three times – two of which have wacky sequels – a couple Japanese swings at it from Toho, and the new Legendary film. If you’re going to get primed for Godzilla vs. Kong, the essential watchlist writes itself.
Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters and on HBO Max (for 31 days) starting on March 26, 2021.
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