Last Friday evening the lobby of the local movie multi-plex was as busy as I’ve seen it in over a year. As winter fades and people get their inoculations, the world seems about ready to come alive again. Thankfully.
Many of the movie-goers were downtown to see the new film “Godzilla vs. Kong,” a Hollywood movie that’s really more a conglomeration of familiar adventure film moves than it is a story. The look of things, here, is decidedly more important than is the plot or its meaning.
Consider for a second these prizes, Cappy: the giant monsters destroy many tall buildings in an east Asian city, though this time it is Hong Kong, and King Kong is as much to blame as is Godzilla.
Other giant monster movies are referred to. Remember Monster Zero? That “Titan,” a three-headed brontosaurus, if memory serves, had his own 1955 Japanese film. In Godzilla vs. Kong, Monster Zero’s epic skull cradles the virtual-reality gaming control center from which the film’s east Asian character runs a gigantic mechanical robot.
The film’s little deaf girl, Kong’s only friend, just has to remind old giant monster film-fans of the flying, singing twins who have been hanging around Mothra at least since 1961.
The film features a squad made up of two teens (he’s a tubby computer-geek) and a conspiracy nut podcaster. So here we get two adventure-movie cliches at once. Maybe three.
At least three of the fairly numerous central characters have dead relations who figure in their motivations. Not that their motivations explain most of their actions.
So “GvsK” is a compendium of familiar adventure movie features. And to the extent that the audience follows the action, it is because we all know a little about what always happens in familiar giant monster movies. The film doesn’t tell a story. It lets viewers make one up out of old conventions.
To do so they must somehow make use of the groupings of characters that the movie moves from Skull Island to a expansive seaside Florida lab to Hong Kong to the mountainous jungle in the hollow of the center of the Earth and so on.
The different units of characters include our Asian game player and a renegade megalomaniac working for the one of the film’s two vast corporations; the teens and the self-appointed journalist; a crypto-scientist (Alexander Skarsgård), a corporate looker-on who is one of the film’s long-haired brunettes, Jia, and Kong’s keeper (Rebecca Hall); and two executives of one of the corporations, one of them a father to one of the teens.
And, of course, there is the monster squad—G and K are eventually joined by “Mechanogodzilla,” a humongous robot. The movie cuts between scenes featuring each of these groups of characters.
It cuts pretty quick. Director Adam Wingard (who directed the third “Blair Witch” movie) seems to have decided to open up both barrels of the carburetor to see how fast the movie can fly. He leaves it to us to make sense of all the wild and colorful stuff he throws up on the screen.
Rate, special effects, and dramatic adventure-movie music make watching “GvsK” into a sort of experience. Eventually everything turns out exactly as you would have guessed.
I saw the movie at a 7 p.m. Friday showing in the huge IMAX theater, which was more than half full. Applause broke out as the closing credits rolled.
Somehow I didn’t think the crowd was so much clapping for the film as they were for the end of the virus scare. Now we can get back to distracting ourselves from work and worries by going to join large crowds in seeing mindless entertainments like the Godzilla movies. Thankfully.