Opinion | Newest monster movie lacks story, emotion
April 7, 2021
The following includes spoilers for “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
“Godzilla vs. Kong” was released on March 31. The new epic monster movie portrays a war between the two most arousing icons and currently receives a rating of 6.9 on IMDb.
There is no denying the investment in imagination is marvelous — especially the unlimited site selection of action scenes. Abandoning the common Skull-Island-style forbidden zones, the film places the two mighty creatures on the sea and under the ground.
The significant special effects can be seen in how CGI establishes the unknown underground space. Gravity inversion brings the same mirror world as “Inception.” Thanks to Warner Bro’s visual technology, the dynamic aesthetics of the aircrafts’ flight paths and the assorted ecological designs in the earth’s core are presented perfectly.
The final climactic scene is set in neon-glittering Hong Kong. It is astonishing to watch how Godzilla and Kong smash this metropolis into pieces on the big screen.
However, the plot of this movie is criticized as illogical. The messy, brutal combat accounts for almost two-thirds of the film’s length and works to pump the audience’s adrenalin. It tells a scratchy story that is forced by the producers only to make it at least look like cinema instead of a fighting game.
The film’s core conflict — what motivates Godzilla and Kong to battle against each other — is directly and crudely summed up in one word: feud.
The incentive and function of the several major human characters are left unexplained. Their facial expressions are always confused at any crucial moment of the two-hour story like they are constantly cheated by the scriptwriter. These scientists seem to have no idea of what is going on even when the audience ultimately comprehends.
Watching the two fearsome monsters fight like it is the end of the world should be entertaining, but the view of the process is actually exhausting. The dense bombardment of visual effects keeps the audience’s nerves tense with rest. Watching “Godzilla vs. Kong” feels like completing a cranial marathon, because it wholly ignores the importance of appropriate rhythms and civil scenes.
Director Martin Scorsese developed similar criticism against Marvel’s superhero movies in a column he wrote for the New York Times. To him, these franchise movies are closer to theme parks than they are to films, as “they would be nothing more than a succession of dynamic and elegant compositions and cuts without the painful emotions at the center of the story.”
In this perspective, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is undoubtedly a typical amusement park movie. The whole film is nothing other than pure physical stimulation. The production team does not have any intention to create a sound monster universe or endow the fictional monsters with humanity.
Even if Kong has learned human sign language, Kong is used by the human characters for three tasks: let it fight with Godzilla, take humans to the earth’s core and stop fighting.
This autonomous individual with free will and tremendous power is disappointingly depicted as a furious, allegiant pet. Kong should be seen as an equal ally of humans, while the movie puts Kong in a passive relationship of domestication due to human’s fears of an unknown, robust creature.
In response to Scorsese’s negative comment, Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige said to the Hollywood Reporter that the masses love superhero films because Marvelworks are “a communal experience in a movie theater full of people.”
Even among these seemingly magnificent movies made by the Hollywood machine, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is still unqualified to be considered a cinematic narrative.
It has been one year since “Avengers: Endgame” came out. Recalling the experience of the 181-minute watching process, what impressed the audience were the deaths of Iron Man and Black Widow along with the solemn, stirring memorials at the end of the film. Empathy and sympathy are the critical components of what Feige called “a communal experience” — a concept which is totally absent in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
The two iconic monsters in motion picture history become toys in this new movie. No one cares about who wins, who loses, who lives and who dies. Both the lizard and the monkey are merely simulated mechanical toys that light up their eyes and roar at you when you pass by and never look back twice.
Yuzhu is a freshman in Media.