Go big or go home. It’s the trite philosophy slapped across the bumper of all sequels. That’s the way it always has been, and there’s no hope in altering the tradition. Why should Rocky battle one opponent when he can take on Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the same film? The Joker was a bad dude, but the combination of The Penguin and Catwoman is even worse. If Batman gets through them, let’s toss Bane, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze in his general direction. The ante must always be upped, or else there’ is no point.
In 2014, Gareth Edwards got grim and serious when he adapted (once again) Godzilla for a global audience. He treated the King of the Kaijus as a natural disaster erupted from the Earth, spilling across our cities with a devastating ambivalence for the ants beneath his feet. The film was a massive tease, dropping glimpses of the great beast, but denying us his total glory until the climactic San Francisco rumble with the malevolent M.U.T.O.S.
The film received a mixed-to-negative reaction from audiences and critics (although, I would happily like to declare myself as one of that film’s staunch defenders). After already experiencing 29 interpretations of the atomic breathed dino-beast, taking a step back to the societal concerns of Ishirô Honda‘s original seemed self-important. Sixty-four years after creation, crowds don’t want a brief peek of the mighty. They want the O.G., but they also demand his Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, Penguin, and Bane. Bring on the complete Godzilla Rogues’ Gallery dangit.
Warner Bros., as they are want to do when their franchises come under fire, immediately went into a whirlwind of reevaluation. Since they also controlled the rights to the Eighth Wonder of the World, a plan was put into motion to deliver the Godzilla vs. King Kong film that Honda fumbled in 1964. We can rebuild him; we have the technology.
Three years after Edwards’ mutated dinosaur stomped around the globe, Jordan Vogt-Roberts went back in time with a batch of startling talented actors and got goofy in the Kong: Skull Island sandbox. The film may be steeped in Apocalypse Now imagery, but the horrors of an unjustified war are merely the backdrop for jaw-dropping displays of Kaiju calamity. Warner Bros. embraced their delusions of a monster-verse as joyous as any super-heroics in the MCU.
King Kong was fun again. Now, it’s Godzilla’s turn, again.
After catching a few glimpses of the monster-mash in the first trailer, this second look at Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a ridiculous cacophony of Kaiju blather. Don’t get me wrong; I love it. Seeing the wake of destruction leveled upon a city simply by the blast of Rodan’s wings propels great squeals of giddiness to my lips. I’ll always be in the bag for men in suits, but witnessing gargantuan piles of Hollywood money thrown at Toho concepts is pure delight.
I’m happy to see the mythology of the Monarch research organization continue in the roles Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins. They’re still bringing every ounce of gravitas to the absurd popcorn entertainment, and I thank them for it. I’m sure Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler will provide the usual familial emotional weight required of the average blockbuster. Even if most of us fill the seats for the monsters, humans are generally necessary to pad out the runtime.
My big takeaway from this latest trailer is that director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krumpus) is going full Destroy All Monsters with his film. He saw the fun that Vogt-Roberts had with ginormous spiders and slithering octopus tentacles on Kong: Skull Island and thought to himself, “I can do one better.” With Godzilla mainstays like Mothra, Rodan, and the dreaded King Ghidorah at his disposal, Dougherty can give us a royal rumble that previously could only be achieved in a 7-year-old’s bedroom.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is truly an apocalyptic vision. Washington DC is in flames (you know, more than usual) and the earth is literally crumbling as it spews from its belly one prehistoric creature after another. How can mankind possibly recover after the level of destruction experienced in these two minutes and 24 seconds?
Will there be anything left for King Kong to bash against? Seriously, honest question: what threat does the Eighth Wonder of the World pose to Godzilla after he obliterates Rodan and King Ghidorah? Dougherty is blowing his load on this one. Can’t say I blame him. If I were handed the keys to the kingdom, I would go full-tilt boogie too.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters has no pretension. Dougherty and Warner Bros. want to gift us an epic version of the Kaiju romp Toho has specialized in for decades. This trailer may appear to leave no room on the map for King Kong to shamble, but that’s because I’m looking at it with Gareth Edwards’ eyes. Pluck ’em out. You’re in Skull Island territory, folks. If you could buy into a mysteriously hidden hunk of rock packed with enormous, ravenous creatures, then you can believe that there will be plenty of Earth to annihilate in 2020’s battle royale. There may not be any Empire State Building to scale, however.