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Return of the Drive in Saturday Tuesday Movie Review: Godzilla X Kong!

With the return of the drive-in season comes the return of this feature and a hiatus for the “Hooked to the Silver Screen” series (I’ll do a recap one of these weeks where I don’t see a drive-in movie). “Drive in Saturday,” is, of course a Bowie song, but often these movies reviews have no other connection to Bowie.

Going to drive-in movies is one of my favorite things to do. I’m not entirely sure why, but it usually has something to do with ice cream and the typically silly nature of the movies at drive-ins. This week was no exception— Godzilla X Kong was an entirely silly movie.

Having recently re-watching the three versions of King Kong, I’m reminded that the giant ape can make for a genuinely good movie. So can Godzilla. The original 1954 Godzilla is actually a profound movie, especially the Japanese version. Also, though I haven’t seen it yet, last year’s Godzilla Minus One was the first Godzilla movie to win an academy award for anything at all— fittingly, special effects. Godzilla X Kong isn’t any of that. It’s basically a Saturday morning cartoon using CGI— lots and lots of CGI instead of conventional animation.

This (unlike Godzilla Minus One) is the latest in the MonsterVerse franchise, which thus far has been pretty entertaining. In addition to the copious use of CGI, the series has been characterized by cheap appeals to nostalgia and a give-the-audience-what-it-wants orientation. Well, good. Thus far that’s worked for me. Did it work this time?

Well…I enjoyed going to the drive-in. This is a drive-in style movie to be sure. But it’s the most childish of these inherently childish movies. Complete with a baby Kong, teenage girl, never-ending parade of monsters, this one seems more targeted to 14 year olds than those of us who are 50+ reconnecting to our inter eight-year olds. Also, many of the giant monster scenes don’t take place in cities, among buildings, but rather in the subsurface “Hollow Earth” which doesn’t create a sense of scale. There’s a colony of Kong-like giant apes that, without having a building to stand next to just look like apes. And there’s a scene when Kong and Godzilla come to the rescue, running together like Batman and Robin— they look more like superheroes than giant monsters. And, given the extent to which the monsters communicate with one another, use weapons and generally are purpose-oriented this really is more like a superhero movie than anything else. Or maybe like the old Batman TV show with a much, much bigger budget and less of a sense of camp.

That said, I was pretty happy with this as a way to kickoff the season.

Bowie connection?
There is a very, very remote Bowie connection in that “Ziggy Stardust” appears on the soundtrack of Kong on Skull Island (2017), an earlier movie in the series.

Rating
Two out of four Bowies.
‍‍ 🧑‍🎤👩🏿‍🎤

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