#REVIEW: Godzilla Vs. Kong

Let’s be real, here: this movie is as review-proof as a movie can be. You already knew when you saw the words Godzilla Vs. Kong whether this was going to be a movie you were going to want to see, and no amount of bad reviews can talk someone who wants to see a movie called Godzilla Vs. Kong out of seeing a movie called Godzilla Vs. Kong.

The only meaningful criticisms that can be made of a giant monster punching other giant monster movie is to compare it to other giant monster punching other giant monster movies. You gotta compare it to its competition, y’know? So, for what it’s worth: I’ve seen Pacific Rim and Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island. although Godzilla: King of the Monsters or whatever it was called has thus far escaped my attention. I disliked Pacific Rim quite a bit and enjoyed Godzilla and Skull Island, although I don’t seem to have reviewed the latter. Godzilla vs. Kong is not as good as either of the two previous entries, unfortunately, although the jury’s still out on whether it’s better than Pacific Rim.

And the funny thing is that where GvK falls down is more or less exactly the same place where Pacific Rim falls down: that this movie has injected additional stupid where stupid was not necessary. Stupid is a choice, people! Every single second and every single object on-screen in a movie like this was on purpose; they did not have to do a single thing, so anytime something is blatantly stupid it’s either because they decided they wanted it that way or they didn’t notice, which is worse. Now, it’s possible that a big chunk of the stupid in GvK is King of the Monsters‘ fault, but all that does is push the dumb back a generation; it doesn’t excuse it. Whoever was responsible for the phrase gravitational inversion being in this movie should be flogged. I can ignore the fact that scientifically speaking both Godzilla and Kong are literally too big to exist on land because giant monsters are cool. They add something to the movie. You could snip the entire idiotic hollow Earth plot completely out of this movie and absolutely nothing of value would be lost except for runtime. It was only included to make the movie longer and stupider and, I suppose, to give Kong his magic axe.

King fucking Kong does not need a magic goddamned axe. You know what would be cooler than King Kong carrying a magic axe? King Kong snapping a skyscraper off at the base and whacking Godzilla in the face with it. Would it be scientifically accurate? Of course not. Would it be cool? Yes. And the axe is kind of cool but it is the only thing about the detour into the hollow Earth that eats up the entire first 2/3 of the movie that actually, like, matters. Other than that it’s all wasted time, and worse, wasted time that adds extra stupid and extra questions– like, for example, exactly how did you get the 60,000-ton gorilla onto that aircraft carrier? You sedated him, you say? With fucking what? And after he wakes up and has a deeply unfair battle with Godzilla where Godzilla is breaking other aircraft carriers like they’re made of popsicle sticks but somehow neglects to break Kong‘s aircraft carrier like it’s made of popsicle sticks, how did you manage to re-sedate him to get him into that net that you carry him — I am not joking– to Antarctica in?

The movie spends thirty minutes on gravitational inversion, a concept so stupid that I refuse to get into the details of its role in the movie because it hurts me, but does not explain how they got a 350-foot-tall unconscious gorilla into a net. Nor does it explain how they rendered said 350-foot-tall gorilla unconscious in the first place. Or the second.

And there is just not enough punching to make up for all of these decisions to add stupid into the movie. They could have written around all of this stuff. None of it had to be there. But dozens of people woke up every day while they were working on this and chose stupid over exciting, and I have to report it that way.

(You may be wondering who won. Don’t worry, this is not a spoiler review, but let me simply say that one entity definitely loses. Other aspects may be up for debate. That’s all I’m saying.)

Well, crap

The Snowpiercer post has gotten 200 referrals from Instagram in the last 40 minutes or so, and I can’t see exactly where they’re coming from. Typically when this happens it’s because someone’s calling me an idiot somewhere. If anybody’s come here from there and cares to leave a link in comments just so I can see where this is all coming from, that’d be cool. I don’t plan to engage with it, mind you.

#REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984

I LiveTweeted my way through this last night– I’m going to say a lot of the same things in the review so I’m not going to include them, but feel free to go look— and it takes a certain type of movie for me to do that for: the movie must be either entertaining and kind of dumb, or I have to hate it. And Wonder Woman 1984 has been receiving some seriously mixed reviews, so I had a little bit of worry going into this– the original Wonder Woman is still easily my favorite DC movie since Christopher Reeve was playing Superman, and I was worried they’d fucked it all up.

Spoiler alert: they did not, in fact, fuck it all up.

I mean, there’s some fuckery afoot, don’t get me wrong. But they did not fuck it all up.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here: while Wonder Woman 1984 never gets close to the heights of gloriously dumb that Aquaman reached, there is nonetheless quite a bit of glorious dumb in this movie, and really it has a lot more tonally in common with Aquaman than it does with the first Wonder Woman movie. That said, heart goes a long way with me, and this movie has heart to spare, and I am officially elevating Patty Jenkins to the best superhero-movie director working today, because once again she has demonstrated that she remembers her main character is a superhero and there are a number of places in this movie where crazy shit like saving people and– wait for it, this will startle you– stopping crime is Wonder Woman’s priority.

This is, in a lot of ways, a yeah, but type of movie, where everything that is wrong with it also leads to at least one thing that is good about it, and so ultimately your takeaway from it will depend on whether the bad things annoy you more than the good things made you happy. Some examples? Sure!

Steve Trevor did not belong in this movie! Yeah, but that scene with the flying, and the other scene with the flying, and the way he leaves the movie?

Pedro Pascal is about twelve times as much actor as this role needed, and spent most of the film blissfully gobbling up scenery! Yeah, but he sells the hell out of the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and when was the last time you saw a movie where the villain was defeated by reminding him that he loves his son?

Hey, did you hear that this movie was set in 1984? Because it’s totally set in 1984! Yeah, but … okay, they leaned into that one a little harder than they really needed to.

I don’t understand why movie people can write a film set in the 1930s or for that matter the freaking 840s without pounding you over the head that their movie is a period piece, but every movie set in a decade I remember has to constantly beat you over the head with time period references.

There’s a couple of exceptions, of course: Kristen Wiig didn’t really have a lot to do, and should have had her own movie. There are bits and pieces of her performance that I really liked, but her character bounces off of Steve Trevor in a really weird way (it is obvious, to the point where it could not have been an accident, that Barbara Minerva and Diana Prince have a hell of a lot of chemistry together, in a way that Diana and Trevor really don’t) and I felt like she deserved a stronger arc than she got, particularly at the end of the movie. And a lot of people really seem to have enjoyed the bit at the beginning of the film set on Themiscyra; I am not among them. They should have used that time to give us more of an indication of what Diana has actually been doing with herself other than spending 70 years pining over the first dude she’d ever met, who she knew for a week.

(I knew intellectually that there was no way they’d do this, but there was a bit in the film where I felt like Steve Trevor was about to remind Diana that they’d only known each other for a week, and whoa, lady, let’s pump the brakes here on the eternal love thing just a lil’ bit.)

(Trevor’s entire thing in this movie, from start to finish, is kind of a problem, but it’s a problem that’s mostly outside the movie, if that makes any sense.)

So, yeah: I have some gripes. I loved Wonder Woman, and I wanted to love this movie, and I didn’t. But it’s not a bad movie; it’s a solid B or B+ type of film, for me, mostly on the strength of Gadot’s performance and Jenkins’ story decisions. The DC Murderverse films’ biggest flaw is that they forget who their characters are, and they have a thing called the Justice League that has no concern with “justice” as a concept whatsoever and that the characters they’ve written would never have named their organization in the first place. Wonder Woman 1984 remains defiantly outside the Murderverse, out there with Shazam! and Aquaman and making fun of the Supr Srs murples and throwing popcorn at them. Go ahead and pay the $14.95 to join HBO Max for a month; you’d have paid more than that to see this in theaters anyway and it’s well worth that amount of money and an evening of your time.

Quick #Review: VENOM (2018)

The boy has been campaigning to be allowed to watch Venom for a few days, so Bek and I previewed it last night to make sure it wasn’t going to destroy his tiny little brain or anything like that. The answer: no, it will not, although he might end up kind of bored with it, because the movie shows a surprising amount of patience with setting up its characters before Venom itself actually shows up on screen.

I don’t think this movie really need a full-blown review, but you should slot it pretty firmly with the second tier of non-Marvel superhero movies. It’s nowhere near as bad as some of the early attempts– say, the Elektras and the Daredevils— and probably on par with, say, the Birds of Prey movies, where you have a pretty good idea going in what you’re in for and if you’re okay with being in for that you’re going to have a decent time for the $9 it currently costs to buy this movie from Amazon Prime. The most jarring thing for me is that Venom himself has kind of a cheesy sense of humor, which I wasn’t really expecting, but expect that the alien symbiotic might come awfully close to making a couple of Dad jokes at various points during the film. There are definitely some story weaknesses, don’t get me wrong, and Riz Ahmed’s villain-whose-name-I-don’t-remember is damn near cartoonishly evil, but you could do worse than two hours of making fun of Tom Hardy’s accent and Michelle Williams’ wig.

Three and a half stars, watch during a long weekend.

In which Sturr Wurrs

I did manage to pick up the new TV yesterday– while it was clear at 1:00 that I was going to be there at least an hour if I intended to have anyone bring me my purchase, when I went back at 7 I had a blueshirt knocking politely on my car window before I’d even managed to open the email with the magic yellow “I’m here” button on it, and dude had my TV in my car and me on my way within three minutes of pulling into the spot, which was pretty sweet.

And then I got home and needed to watch a movie to see some 4K goodness, and thought hell, I haven’t seen Rise of Skywalker since it was in theaters. You may remember my review, which was 10,000 words long. I am happy to announce that this is the first Star Wars movie in a long time that I felt was better on a second view, because a few of the things that didn’t make sense to me on the first viewing were cleared up on the second, and oh also I missed the most powerful moment in the entire damn movie.

I somehow missed it when Ben Solo tries to say “I love you” to his father during their scene together on not-Endor, and he’s not able to say it, and Han’s response is “I know.”

And in a trilogy that is absolutely infested with callbacks to the original trilogy, that is how the fuck you do a callback, and it knocked me flat on my ass rewatching it, because how the hell did I miss that? Did I die during the movie or something? What the shit happened?

Also, I am more convinced than ever that the reason Leia waits until Ben’s death to disappear is that it is actually her life force keeping him alive after the lightsaber battle on not-Endor, and when he finally dies, having spent what energy they both have left to bring Rey back, she finally goes as well, and Rey has both of them living on in her, and that’s fucking beautiful too.

So, yeah. The most annoying thing about the movie remains its utter lack of concern about distance and time, particularly for anyone who is offscreen, but that’s really only one thing, and you can either roll with it or you can’t, and I’ve decided to roll with it. Lando and Jannah’s scene on Base Planet is still creepy, too.

We also watched the latest episode of The Mandalorian yesterday, a show that probably deserves another entire full piece devoted to it, and while I’m not going to really jump into it because spoilers, and you deserve to see this episode without interference, I will say this: I am not angry about anything that happens in this episode, and in fact I’m quite a bit more excited about future developments on the show than I was before watching it.

I even rewatched the first half of Solo today. Apparently it’s Star Wars season around here right now.