Godzilla vs. Kong (HBO Max): Out of Our Control

By Jacob Sahms

The second sequel to 2014’s Godzilla (alongside Godzilla: King of Monsters), Godzilla vs. Kong pits two of the ‘Titans’ against each other, with humanity involved but out if its depths. At over two hours long, the film gives a human backdrop to the periodic Rampage-like battles between Titans, balancing eye-popping CGI effects with the human angst stuck between colossal monsters.

The thirty-fifth film in the Godzilla franchise, this one takes a little while to build up for the first confrontation. I found myself missing the ground level view of Kong: Skull Island but horror director Michael Dougherty finds his rhythm and sticks to it, with a cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir.

As the film opens, Kong is artificially contained on Skull Island, so that the world is safe and he can be studied. His one friend is a little deaf girl named Jia who has been adopted by the scientist, Dr. Ilene Andrews (Hall). Kong shows the majority of his human characteristics in interaction with Jia. At Apex, Godzilla’s powers are being studied and manipulated by Walter Simmons (Bichir), who wants to hunt and eradicate Titans. In both cases, humans are making the “Jurassic Park problem”: humanity always seems to believe it can control everything, even powers well outside its control.

While the monsters are big and fierce – it’s easier to love Kong more quickly as a fuzzy primate versus a cold lizard – some of the humans lack … humanity or empathy. Sure, the film was developed awhile ago, but what if we subbed out monsters and inserted COVID? Would we see that people are often their own worst enemies, that it’s not really the external threats that are to be feared but the ways that humanity makes selfish decisions without regarding the consequences or the way that others are hurt? Would we recognize that we’re too often driven by economics, that while someone else is maximizing on the occasion while someone else is suffering?

Godzilla vs. Kong is wildly entertaining, but it’s also something that serves as a metaphor for the way we treat each other, too.