Godzilla versus Kong: “Sound & fury”
Japanese cinema has been the breeding ground for kaiju/monsters, from Gojira/Godzilla, King Ghidorah and Mothra to Rodan and Gamera. The original Japanese monster flicks have spawned numerous sequels, reboots, re-imaginings and clashes between the giants of the monster world. The latest Hollywood manifestation pits Godzilla against King Kong.
This is not the first time Kong has squared off against Godzilla. They challenged one another in the 1962 film, King Kong v Godzilla. The creature effects in 2021’s re-match are decidedly superior to the somewhat dodgy effects from 1962.
That was the standard of the time. And there is something oddly appealing about cheesy special effects. Regardless of which giant monster you cheer for, Godzilla versus Kong reignites a film-based mythology and creature origin story.
The mythology surrounds the existence of a primordial world located at the earth’s core.
Forget magma at the earth’s core, we’re talking giant lizards, prehistoric flying reptiles and, of course, the mighty Kong.
In Godzilla versus Kong, we find Kong trapped on Skull Island, in part to protect him from other apex monster predators such as Godzilla. Godzilla and Kong's species are ancient enemies. In this primordial world, Godzilla is an alpha predator. We are told that Kong bows to no one. This sets up a clash of these monstrous titans.
When all is said and done, does it need a plausible storyline? Does it need a storyline at all, except as a catapult to launch the destruction?
And mayhem is the order of the day. Sound and fury dominate the stage.
Official Trailer Godzilla versus Kong 2021
The one human that Kong has an empathetic connection with is young, orphaned Jia, who communicates by gently touching fingers with Kong’s enormous fist. Like ET in ET, The Extraterrestrial, Kong wants to go home. The issue is that home is located at the earth’s core. No one knows how to get there. But, of course, a secret laboratory run by a mega-corporation has developed transport vehicles that can access the earth’s core using gravity inversion via a tunnel in the Arctic
Improbable? Ridiculous? It’s a monster flick. What do you expect?
The usual evil suspects complete the setup for unleashing mayhem. There’s an evil corporation, Apex Cybernetics, led by an unscrupulous chief executive, that seeks to harness Godzilla’s inbuilt nuclear reactor that charges his stream of radioactive breath for sinister purposes.
To cut a long monster story short, Godzilla tracks Kong and the inevitable death by annihilation happens. By annihilation, I mean the utter and total destruction of a major city, Hong Kong, as Godzilla, Kong and cybernetic MechaGodzilla fight for dominance of their, and our, worlds. Skyscrapers are torn to shreds as the gigantic brutes pummel each other.
The original Japanese Gojira/Godzilla featured a man in a rubber Godzilla suit trampling a miniature model of Tokyo and introduced us to Godzilla’s metallic screech. The movie was a direct expression of the Japanese reaction to and angst about the use of atomic weapons and their threat to the planet and all life on Earth following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during
World War 2.
Godzilla versus Kong could be seen as a metaphor for the current fight against the worldwide viral pestilence with which we are all dealing. Tokyo must be exhaling a massive sigh of relief that, for a change, the filmmakers have chosen to obliterate Hong Kong rather than demolish Tokyo...again.
Popular B-grade movies can be effective in reflecting overwhelming social dilemmas. Perhaps that’s overthinking and overreacting to a movie that is mostly sound and fury.
There’s no need to overthink Godzilla versus Kong. Popular imaginings of alpha predators and gigantic creatures are designed as an auditory and visual film assault that provides a diversion for a couple of hours. Contemporary computer-generated images deliver fury in a super-enhanced, larger-than-life fashion. Although it must be said that the hand animated, movement-by-movement technique employed to animate the original version of King Kong (1933) is still impressive.
In a similar way that we enjoy many foods in a varied diet, rather than eating the same food for breakfast, lunch and midnight snacks, there is room in the film universe for all types of movies. Admit it, we all enjoy a bit of unhealthy food now and then.
Godzilla versus Kong delivers on all counts.
READ & DISCOVER: Japan’s Giant Monsters: The Originals
Tokyo was not damaged during the making of this movie. BUT…Hong Kong was smashed, irradiated, destroyed, wiped out, annihilated, exterminated, demolished, eliminated, eradicated, decimated and zapped. Virtually, of course.
Fear not and/or cringe, depending on your view of B-grade monster flicks, Godzilla, King Kong, Tokyo, Hong Kong and, possibly, New York or San Francisco, will undoubtedly re-appear in the next instalment of the monster movie universe to be once again pounded, buffeted, thrashed, hit, assaulted, attacked, thumped, whacked, walloped, bashed, clobbered, bopped and biffed. All virtually, of course.
WATCH FILM CLIP: Gojira/Godzilla (1954)
Blue Oyster Cult’s song, Godzilla, features the hard-to-beat, B-grade lyric, “Oh, no, there goes To-ky-o”. These lyrics could easily be the storyline for the current film, Godzilla versus Kong, or any Godzilla movie.
WATCH & LISTEN: Blue Oyster Cult’s song, Godzilla, with accompanying Godzilla footage from across the many Godzilla films that is synced with the lyrics. This footage is priceless, including a small Godzilla model moved by someone's hand.
READ: Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth
MOVIE: Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959)
An eccentric German scientist descends to the Earth's core through volcanic tubes and encounters hazards, such as cave-ins, sub-polar tornadoes, an underground ocean, and living prehistoric creatures, before being spewed back to the surface by an active volcano in southern Italy. Totally believable.
The Core (2003)
An unknown force has caused the earth's inner core to stop rotating. With the planet's magnetic field rapidly deteriorating, the Earth's atmosphere breaks down with catastrophic consequences. To resolve the crisis, scientists travel into the earth's core to detonate a device that will reactivate the core.
LEARN ABOUT STOP MOTION
Before the advent of computer-generated animation, animation was done painstakingly by hand, movement by movement--small incremental movements--until the scene was finished. It could take months to film a segment that lasted for a couple of minutes on screen.
WATCH: Original trailer for King Kong (1933)
The original King Kong featured a stop motion animated Kong.
LINK TO Aardman Animations: Official site of Aardman Animations
LINK TO WATCH: Wallace & Gromit
Aardman Animations studio maintains the tradition of claymation using hand-by-hand animation in the Wallace and Gromit films, Chicken Run and Curse of the Wererabbit. Aardman Animations also created the animation in Peter Gabriel’s groundbreaking video clip for his song, Sledgehammer.
Photo Still from Sledgehammer
LINK TO WATCH: Peter Gabriel’s animated video clip, Sledgehammer
RAY HARRYHAUSEN'S JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
Ray Harryhausen was a master animator. His films would mix stop motion sequences with live action before the days of CGI and green screen. Ray Harryhausen explains his process of stop motion during the making of Jason and Argonauts, including what happened when he received a phone call in the middle of animating the skeleton warriors fight sequence.
LINK TO WATCH: Top Ten Harryhausen Creations
WATCH: Jason battles the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.
Adam Elliot's Harvie Krumpet (2003)
LINK TO WATCH: Harvie Krumpet (22minutes)
Harvie Krumpet was filmed over 15 months. Each individual frame was animated, meaning that an average of 3–5 seconds of film was produced in a full day of filming.
Harvie's face used more than 30 separate mouth shapes. Elliot intentionally left fingerprints in the plasticine when manipulating the models to remind the audience that "what they're seeing is tangible, tactile and it's not generated through a computer".