Godzilla Vs. Kong Is The Epic Clash We’ve Been Waiting For!

Ever since Godzilla and King Kong have made their way into recent films with modern fx technology we’ve been wating for the inevitable clash between these two legendary titans. Fans had their dreams answered with the new take of Godzilla vs. Kong, and boy does this film deliver!

First of all, let’s be clear. Godzilla vs. Kong is not Citizen Kane or even Blade Runner. It does not feature any deep, meaningful storylines or characters, it just gives viewers a classic slugfest between the two iconic film legends. What characters there are only exist to provide brief explanations, theories and to move the plot along. It is clear that Legendary Entertainment has figured out that from Godzilla, its first entry in their Monsterverse cinematic universe, that audiences have little patience for human drama in these films and only show up to see detailed and powerful battles between giant monsters as they destroy their landscapes. The fourth Monsterverse film wisely, depending on your point of view, puts aside human drama and intricate plots and just sprinkle these elements to service the film and give the giant monster legends a reason to fight.

The film begins with Godzilla unexpectedly showing up off the coast of Florida and decimating the location of Apex Cybernetics. While the world believes the mighty Alpha Titan has gone rogue, there is more to his attack. At the same time, the other Alpha Titan, Kong is introduced as being held inside a massive dome on Skull Island that recreates his primordial kingdom. Apparently at some point before this film, he was captured and placed there to protect him from Godzilla, who would otherwise seek out Kong and battle him since he is a competing Alpha Titan. But Kong wants out of his gilded cage and is somehow able to communicate with Jia (Kaylee Hottle) the young, deaf daughter of Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), one of the many scientists studying the giant gorilla. Ilene meets another scientist, Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), who wants to use Kong to lead his team into the Earth’s core. Lind believes in the Hollow Earth theory, which he thinks is the home of the gigantic titans and the source of a new kind of energy.

At the same time, Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown reprising her role from Godzilla: King of the Monsters), her nerdy friend Josh Valentine (Julien Dennison), and Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), a conspiracy podcaster find out that Apex is also interested in exploring the inner Earth and obtaining the energy source. How does this relate to Godzilla and King Kong and other kaijus that pop up? Watch the movie to find out.

Actually, the threadbare plot is nonsense and is not fully explained, but who cares? It’s just a means to get the two giant kaijus to duke it out. Director Adam Wingard delivers the goods when it comes to epic clashes. Godzilla vs. Kong lovingly revels in beautifully choreographed shots of massive battles between the titans and other creatures. Modern cities are just a playground for these giants to stomp around in and destroy during their battles as humans can only do their best to get out of the way.

Keep in mind, that despite the film’s thin plot and underdeveloped characters, the actors give it their all and keep things moving at a fast pace to the point that we don’t mind the human interludes in between monster scenes since every human interaction directly deals with either Kong or Godzilla. This actually helps inect some personality into the monsters, especially Kong. In reality, this is more of a Kong film with Godzilla as a feature character who pops up to challenge the giant ape throughout the film. The result is that Kong has more character than expected and is placed in unique situations that is outside of what is often given to the screen legend. Not only does this reveal that Kong is far more intelligent than we thought, but he’s humanized to the point that even if you are on Team Godzilla you can’t help but root for him during critical moments in the explosive battles. Honestly, it was hard to pick a side, Team Kong or Team Godzilla, as we have reasons to root for both monsters who get their standout moments and demonstrate why they are the kings of their domains.

Needless to say the film’s stunning visuals alone are worth taking a chance to see in theaters. Of course, only go to a theater if you are fully vaccinated since you can’t tell beforehand if you’ll be stuck in the theater with selfish maskholes! Otherwise, be sure to stream this in the best home theater environment possible because Godzilla vs. Kong is a pure delight for kaiju and action fans.

Godzilla vs. Kong is the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of Monsterverse films and is, at the moment, the final film in the Monsterverse. Hopefully, being that the film has captured the imagination of so many and is being well received despite its faults, maybe we can revisit the Monsterverse since there is more to explore, especially with King Kong.

José Soto

Of Love And Monsters

Love and Monsters was released last month through video on demand and had a limited theatrical release. Like practically every film since this spring, it too could not get a widespread theatrical release because of the coronavirus. It’s a shame since this extraordinary film deserves much more attention, though positive word of mouth might elevate it to cult status sometime down the road.

love and monsters dog

In a nutshell, Love and Monsters stars Dylan O’Brien as Joel Dawson, an insecure twentysomething doing his best to survive during a giant monster apocalypse, all in the name of love.

As told in the film’s opening segments, years ago, a giant asteroid threatening Earth was destroyed with missiles, but the fallout mutated Earth’s cold-blooded creatures into gigantic monstrosities that essentially destroyed civilization. Now what is left of humanity ekes out meager existences in underground shelters and bunkers, and do their best to avoid the bloodthirsty critters that have claimed the surface world.

Joel pines for his lost love, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who was forced to separate from him years ago. Recently, he tracked her down at a colony over 80 miles away from his own and he decides to risk it all to reunite with her. The only problem is that Joel lacks basic survival skills and somehow has to find a way to make it through the deadly surface landscape without being eaten.

Along his voyage, he comes across a handful of memorable characters. These include a loveable dog called Boy, which quickly bonds with Joel, a broken robot Mav1s (Melanie Zanetti), and a scruffy but friendly survivor Clyde (Michael Rooker) and his spunky companion, a young girl named Minnow (Arianna Greenblatt). They help Joel out and teach him how to survive in the rugged landscape by using his wits and valuable survival skills.

Naturally, Joel and Boy face many dangers, some of which are genuinely creepy and tense, but he discovers his own potential as he grows during his journey. Sure, it seems implausible that Joel could have survived for years in the giant monster apocalypse without having basic survival skills, but his emotional journey was quite satisfying to watch.

Love and Monsters is such a pleasant surprise. It is not a dire, dark film, but it is still boasts its fair share of thrills. By the way, the creature designs are very imaginative and unique. The best way to describe the many monsters Joel and the others encounter is to think of those creepy pit creatures from Peter Jackson’s version of King Kong.

Yes, thanks to its lighter tone, Love and Monsters can be compared to Zombieland, though it is not as funny. Still, it does have a lot of heart, has charming characters and it is easy to tell everyone involved from the actors to the production crew to the writers (Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson) and director (Michael Matthews) gave it their all. The result is a satisfying giant monster film with a ton of heart.

In fact, the film strikes and inspirational tone with its message that although a situation may be dire, it is possible to overcome it and thrive. In some strange way, Love and Monster is somewhat relevant to our current situation by demonstrating the pluck nature of humanity will overcome obstacles, which in the film’s case are giant monsters.

José Soto

Contagion: A Harbinger For Our Time

 

Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion has sadly become one of those quasi-science fiction films that became a reality. Of course, this relates to the coronavirus pandemic that has upended our global society.

The parallels between the film and what is going on right now are downright eerie and disturbing. However, there are distinct differences between Contagion and reality, especially later on in the film.

Infections

Contagion illustrated how the MEV-1 virus easily spread from China throughout the world as Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) on a business trip in Hong Kong became patient zero, interacted with many people and infected them. Steven Soderbergh inspired direction discreetly showed how easy it was for the virus to spread as many shots lingered on surfaces touched by infected victims, which were then touched by others.

One way the film differed from reality is how quickly victims exhibited symptoms and the mortality rate. People infected with the fictional virus displayed harsh symptoms apparently overnight, though most likely this can be attributed to film editing. The timeframe shown in the beginning of Contagion has Beth Emhoff already sick when she arrived in the U.S. Careful observations showed that she had been ill for a few days, but we’re shocked when she dies horribly mere minutes into the film. These quick time jumps were shown of how other characters became ill and died. With the coronavirus the incubation period ranges from days to weeks and explains why the disease is more insidious and deadlier than the MEV-1 because many people are already infected but won’t show symptoms for some time. Meanwhile, they’re unwittingly spreading the virus. On the other hand, the MEV-1 virus had a mortality rate of 25 to 30 percent, which was dramatically worse than COVID-19. Imagine how much worse things would be if COVID-19 had that kind of mortality rate.

Deployments

A similarity between Contagion and real life is with the deployment of military and medical services to combat the virus and maintain order. The film turned out to be accurate in its depiction for how the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mobilized to study and combat MEV-1. We are seeing this played out in real time as scientists and doctors race not only to find a vaccine but at least some kind of treatment. Unlike the film and fortunately for us, the intense medical efforts have opened up promising treatments and even vaccine tests. In Contagion, these breakthroughs did not happen until long months had passed. But before anyone reading this starts celebrating, bear in mind that trials and tests need to be completed and we are looking at a vaccine being ready anywhere from a year to eighteen months at the earliest. So for now prevention is the best defense; that includes being as clean as possible and social distancing (which was mentioned in Contagion as means of slowing the spread of the virus).

Even more distressful is the way Contagion portrays the chaos and breakdowns as the fictional MEV-1 virus ravages the world. Thankfully, we have not seen the mass riots, looting and lawlessness that take place later in the film. But we must heed these important warnings of what we face if the COVID-19 virus is not contained and continues spreading. Already healthcare systems are on the verge of collapse in a several places like Italy or are severely strained in many others.

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Inheritors

In the Planet Of The Apes film series, humanity’s simian relatives have inherited the Earth in the far future. It’s a fascinating premise, that humankind currently the dominant life form will one day be supplanted. This goes back as early as with H.G. Wells’ classic The Time Machine, where that book’s narrator time travels to the distant future to find that humans no longer exist.

However with The Time Machine and the Apes films, the future rulers of the Earth are related to us. In the case of Wells’ story, humanity evolved into two distinct species the predatory Morlocks and the cattle-minded Eloi. But is this what will happen? Who is to say that our evolutionary branch will continue to dominate the world? For all we know, the eventual rulers will be based upon other animal species currently sharing the world with us. Or they could be something else. Let’s look at some candidates in a post-human world.

Rodents

There’s a good case to be made that some kind of rodent will dominate the world. They are a hardy species able to survive in just about in every environment. Rats are notoriously difficult to eradicate since they are very intelligent and durable. It’s easy to imagine a world where rodents become the dominant species. In Dougal Dixon’s book After Man: A Zoology Of The Future, a future Earth is presented where  rodent dog-like species called the falanx and bear-like bardelots are the top predators. Rodents have also filled other ecological niches in this future world. So it’s easy to imagine how a sentient rodent species could arise from this environment further along into the future.

Insects

This is harder to imagine but not impossible. What impedes insects from becoming dominant life forms is the environment. Earth’s gravity and atmosphere prevent insects from ever growing very large. Over 400 million years ago in the Devonian Era insects grew into monsters because of Earth’s higher oxygen content and temperatures. If such conditions were to be repeated and if there aren’t any competitors then it’s conceivable that insects could rule the land again and from there possibly lead to sentient insects. The potential for insect intelligence already exists with social insects like bees, wasps and ants. The latter are excellent candidates with their complex social hierarchies. Compared to bees and wasps, ants are very common and one species, the driver ant in EastAfrica, is a true terror capable of killing small animals. Phase IV was a movie released in 1974 that was about a newly evolved species of ants that developed a hive intelligence and began supplanting humanity. It may be far-fetched given humanity’s resilience and other competitors but given the right conditions then the opportunity is there for the insects.

Artificial Intelligence

Pretty cut and dried, the Singularity arrives in a few decades or so, Skynet comes online, etc. Humanity is enslaved or exterminated by sentient computers and robots. There is no Neo or John Connor to the rescue. Who knows what the computers do after we’re gone? Maybe they find Earth too confining or completely strip its resources and leave for the stars. Afterwards the microbes that survive will eventually yield to complex life millions of years later. It’s anyone’s guess as to what the new top life forms will be.

Marine Mammals

Dolphins and whales come to mind but despite arguments about the level of their intelligence one important factor impeding their capability for social and technological advancement is their inability to manipulate their environment. They lack appendages that allow them to handle objects. Perhaps if some cetacean evolves to return to land they can develop ambidextrous hands. But that could happen instead to the pinnipeds, namely seals. As with the insects, much depends on environmental factors. A flooded Earth will do.

Reptiles

There could be a second age of reptiles that leads to new kinds of dinosaurs. It’s happened before so it can happen again. Only this time the reptiles or neo dinosaurs evolve into a sentient species. There are several sci-fi stories that present advanced dinosaurs with technology. Harry Harrison’s alternate history book trilogy West of Eden is a good example. In Stephen Baxter’s Evolution, readers are introduced to sapient dinosaurs. Star Trek: Voyager had an episode in the third season called “Distant Origin” that featured a reptilian alien race that turned out to be dinosaurs that left Earth millions of years ago. Of course no such beings have been found in the fossil records…yet. Then again dinosaurs ruled the Earth for millions of years and they included bipedal forms with complex claws but never developed sentience as far as we know.

The Rest

Other candidates include birds. They had their chance when the dinosaurs died out but mammals beat them to the punch. As with cetaceans their lack of manipulating limbs could’ve hindered them.  Perhaps an evolutionary throwback that reintroduces hand-like claws might do the trick. Pigs are reputedly very intelligent as are elephants. But with elephants they are on the verge of extinction, seeing them taking over is difficult. Pigs are versatile creatures  but lack manipulating organs unless their flexible snouts evolve into trunks giving them a chance. The list goes on, many animal species can be candidates for evolving into a sentient, sapient race. Frankly, there are many variables that can’t be completely accounted for so we’ll just stick with our imagination for now.

Lewis T. Grove