CODY: I’m Cody.
BEN: I’m Ben.
CODY: And this is Queeks. We’re gonna talk about nerd stuff, and then we’re gonna talk about gay stuff, in that order.
CODY: Ben, how are you?
BEN: I’m good, you know? I’m alive. I’m awake.
CODY: Happy Pride!
BEN: Yes, it’s Pride Month!
CODY: This is the first time we’ve recorded in June.
BEN: The big month.
CODY: And I’ve celebrated by looking at Target ads.
BEN: For Pride-related —
CODY: I just keep seeing ads on Facebook that are Target ads, but they have rainbows in them.
BEN: Target ads is in ads for Target, for the store?
CODY: Ads for Target.
BEN: Okay. I wasn’t sure if you meant ads that are targeted at you.
CODY: I get plenty of those, too.
BEN: Whenever I get a gay targeted ad at me, I get a little offended, but also like, oh, this is really useful.
CODY: Like Calvin Klein ads?
BEN: I mean, that’s offensive because I don’t want to see those amazing bodies that I can’t be near.
CODY: I feel personally victimized by each one of those. Yes, and they show up way too often. And I do buy them, but not because of the ads. I’ve just always liked them.
CODY: But no, it happens a lot.
BEN: Yeah, I get that.
CODY: But I meant Target having Pride ads.
BEN: There was an ad for their Pride set-up that they had, like in one of their stores, that was like children’s clothes. And I love looking at comments on progressive posts from companies just to see the people get really angry at progressive policies. So it was a lot of people saying, like, ‘stop trying to indoctrinate our children.’ And I was like, I mean, but —
CODY: Same people yelling at libraries for having people in drag reading books?
CODY: How dare they.
BEN: I know. How dare they read to children for free and bring joy to millions. I don’t think there’s millions of people attending drag storytimes at the library.
CODY: I do. I’ve seen millions at one library for it.
BEN: One library? That’s more people than have ever been in a single library ever.
CODY: Yeah, that’s true. Let’s talk about something very representative of Pride Month —
CODY: — and of the gays in general, Godzilla.
BEN: Yes, Godzilla.
CODY: We saw Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which just came out recently. It is a sequel to the 2014 movie, which you also saw.
BEN: Yes. It was called Godzilla.
CODY: It was called Godzilla. This is the third movie that they’re doing. So Legendary Pictures has started doing their own what they’re calling the MonsterVerse.
BEN: Not to be confused with the Dark Universe that Universal attempted to launch, featuring the classic Universal movie monsters.
BEN: Which I originally called the monsterverse. And then they were like, nope.
CODY: Yeah, that really is what it should have been called.
BEN: The monsterverse?
BEN: Oh, for sure. Because they’re known as like, the monsters, whereas this could have been, like, the kaijuverse.
CODY: And it also could have worked if they’d done it competently.
BEN: Right, if they put any amount of effort into it.
CODY: I mean, I say that. I didn’t see any of it.
BEN: I did not see The Mummy. Well, they’ve only done one.
CODY: Right. Why would I watch that?
BEN: They planned a few others, and it did not pan out.
CODY: Why would I would have watched The Mummy?
BEN: I mean, with Tom Cruise?
BEN: After that one IMAX trailer that had the sound not in it.
CODY: That happened?
BEN: Do you not remember that?
BEN: That was a big thing. So when the trailer for The Mummy with Tom Cruise first came out, it was accidentally released by IMAX on their YouTube page without any of the sound in it, except for, like, filler sound. And so it was just, like, hilarious because it was just the same scream over and over again whenever anyone was screaming. It was so great.
BEN: And I think that kind of helped to sink the movie, on top of the fact that it was what it was.
CODY: Yeah, it didn’t seem good.
BEN: No, so we don’t need those monsters. But we have Godzilla.
CODY: Different monsters. Right now, three movies. It’s Godzilla, and then Kong: Skull Island, and then this one, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This one was not made by the same people who did the first one.
CODY: As in the director.
BEN: Oh, okay. It was Gareth Edwards, of Rogue One.
CODY: Right, made the first one, and he was going to do this one, but then dropped out for some reason or another. It was directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty, who also made Krampus, which I didn’t see, but seemed fun.
BEN: I got a lot of scenes Krampus vibes from Godzilla in this.
CODY: Yeah, well, Krampus made that appearance in the post-credit teaser.
BEN: Well, yeah. I mean, he’s part of the MonsterVerse, obviously. They teased Krampus.
CODY: He also made Trick ‘r Treat. I don’t know what that is.
BEN: I assume it’s Krampus, but Halloween.
CODY: The point is he’s a horror filmmaker.
BEN: Which is good because I think there certainly should be elements of horror in, like, big ole’ monster movies, rather than just the hilariousness of a giant monster.
CODY: Right. They should be horrifying, to some degree.
CODY: This also doesn’t really have too much of a cast carryover from the original, other than Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins.
BEN: The best advice.
CODY: And also David Strathairn as Admiral Stenz, that like Navy Guy or military man.
BEN: He was in the first Godzilla?
CODY: He was in charge of finding the MUTOs or whatever. I didn’t realize that at the time.
BEN: Oh, I didn’t remember that at all.
CODY: I couldn’t have told you his character’s name. He is sort of just the military opposition to the scientists who take a more measured approach.
CODY: So he was also in it.
CODY: But this one introduces new characters, like a family it focuses on, with Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown.
BEN: Millie Bobby Brown, who is great, from Stranger Things.
CODY: Right, she is great, and this was her blockbuster debut.
CODY: Because, you know Stranger Things.
BEN: But like big screen, hadn’t really been in a big role yet.
CODY: Right. There’s a bunch of other people in it, too. It’s a pretty wide cast.
BEN: It is, yeah.
CODY: And a pretty good cast, I think. Interesting to note before we actually talk about, like, the content of the movie itself, it has not been performing super well.
CODY: Yeah, no.
BEN: Not even overseas?
CODY: Well, better overseas. So weekend box office was $49 million domestic, which was at the top, but that’s still not great.
CODY: The original Godzilla, as in the 2014 one, not 1954, took in $93 million, so almost double.
BEN: Wow. In the opening weekend?
CODY: Part of that is fair because I think, you know, that’s the appeal of a new Godzilla movie with new, you know, modern day effects sort of carried that one. Also, the amount of Bryan Cranston in the trailers.
BEN: And the lack of Bryan Cranston in the movie.
CODY: Right, coasting off of Breaking Bad hype, and then him not being in the movie all that much.
BEN: I didn’t think about that, that they were coasting off Breaking Bad from him.
CODY: Oh it was.
BEN: And they were kind of coasting off of Stranger Things for Millie Bobby Brown in this.
CODY: I still hear people, in conversation, refer to that one as ‘the Bryan Cranston Godzilla,’ even though he’s really not in it much at all.
BEN: They pulled, like, a Psycho with him, and killed him pretty early in the movie.
CODY: Right, which is fair.
BEN: And that movie ended up mostly being, you know, the twins.
BEN: I can’t think of them as anything other than Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
CODY: Right. It was weird to say Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, who had just played twins in Age of Ultron —
BEN: In a different franchise.
CODY: — playing a married couple very soon after.
BEN: Same year? Year after, maybe?
CODY: I don’t remember what year Age of Ultron was, but yeah, no, that was a little odd. But then neither of them are in this one either, even though they both survived that one.
BEN: That was strange.
CODY: Well, I think it was necessary because it really wasn’t — the characters they did carry over were like, you know, lead scientists at Monarch and, you know, this top military guy. They were tied to the events specifically of that movie, but not really of the whole universe.
BEN: I mean, speaking of Monarch, Monarch is the intergovernmental organization that is kind of the main connecting thread between all of these monster movies in the MonsterVerse.
CODY: Yeah, that’s sort of the big thing that ties them together. And it is worth noting that even before this movie came out, there is a sequel coming out next year, next March, Godzilla vs. Kong, in which, I didn’t realize at the time, Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown are returning for that movie.
CODY: And also, I hope I’m close to pronouncing this correctly, Zhang Ziyi, who played Dr. Chen. I don’t know if she was a doctor, but she seemed like she had a doctorate.
BEN: I could see it.
CODY: I really liked her also.
CODY: I think we noted after the movie, she was a really fun character.
BEN: Yeah, she was.
CODY: The sequel is being written by Terry Rossio, who wrote Shrek and wrote Aladdin, the original, and also the first four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
BEN: Okay, so he is good at writing movies.
CODY: He is. And I think a lot of the story was developed by a writing room that they had for just developing this whole universe.
BEN: That makes sense, yeah.
CODY: But he’s writing the screenplay for it.
BEN: Nice. I wonder if that means that Mike Myers will provide the voice of Godzilla.
CODY: I think it should.
BEN: I think that would be great.
CODY: I didn’t realize, while I was researching this, a lot of the monster work is still performance capture.
BEN: I thought that was the case because I was reading the credits for the 2014 Godzilla, and I saw that someone was credited as being Godzilla, and I was like, I don’t understand. And then I looked at the cast list for the MonsterVerse, and all of the monsters had actors listed next to them.
BEN: That’s crazy.
CODY: Yeah, because I mean, I like that it’s still tied to its roots.
BEN: Oh, yeah.
CODY: Man in suit.
BEN: Yes, but it’s not like men in suits stomping on miniatures.
BEN: It’s like, man in suit in front of green screen stomping.
CODY: Weirder suit in green room, just sort of prancing about.
BEN: Right, which is lovely to think about.
CODY: I think it’s even more fun.
BEN: Yes. It could be anywhere.
CODY: It’s pretty great. This movie also takes a lot from a lot of the other Godzilla movies, and then just the kaiju movies in general, Japanese monster movies. I was looking into how this fits into the greater Godzilla picture because it’s a big one.
BEN: It is. There’s how many movies?
CODY: This was the 35th Godzilla movie.
CODY: And that is not including the sort of Americanized re-cuts of the older ones.
BEN: I thought you were going to say not including the Matthew Broderick.
CODY: It does include that one, because those are original productions, but there were several, three or four maybe, that they just took and re-edited the Japanese versions and changed the script and added actors in some cases, like American actors. That was the big case with the original one. They added — the actor is escaping me at the moment — but they had to have a terrified white guy at the center so that they would care about it.
BEN: Well yeah, why else would you care about it?
CODY: That’s an interesting one. I’ve seen both versions of that.
BEN: What do you prefer?
CODY: Well, the original. They sort of take out a lot of the — I mean, the original Godzilla is pretty political in its theme because Godzilla originates from nuclear war.
BEN: Right, which Japan as a country is more familiar than pretty much anywhere else.
CODY: Right. That’s pretty much where that all comes from, and the American one pretty well sanitizes that.
CODY: So it’s interesting to compare them. I haven’t — It’s been a while since I’ve seen both those, but it’s an interesting watch. Not only is this the 35th movie, this is the fifth time, with the MonsterVerse, that Godzilla has had a re-boat. Reboot. Not a re-boat.
BEN: A re-boat!
CODY: A reboot of some kind.
BEN: He does often destroy boats, though, so.
CODY: That’s true. He’s a menace.
CODY: I have a literal overview here that I think is really interesting, just because this is a very wacky franchise and storied because of how many movies they’ve had and how long it’s been going.
BEN: There were different phases, right?
CODY: Right. So it’s divided into all these different phases. So all of the Japanese movies are produced by Toho.
BEN: Toho. They own the rights to a lot of the kaiju properties.
CODY: They do. And a lot of the ones that are featured in this movie, Ghidorah and Rodan and Mothra, they all started in their own movies, not in Godzilla movies, but then they ended up crossing over with each other.
BEN: So anyone who has complaints about shared universes nowadays —
CODY: Right, well, we can get into that, too, about how it’s sort of one of the predecessors of modern shared universes.
BEN: Oh, for sure.
CODY: That, with the Universal Monsters. So the early periods of Godzilla movies are named after the periods of imperial rule in Japan that they loosely fall under because they just happen to mostly align with them. Like, the first 15 movies are all the Shōwa period because of the emperor at the time And I think it was Emperor Hirohito, but it I don’t know what he was the Shōwa emperor. I don’t know what that means.
BEN: I don’t know.
CODY: I don’t know a lot about Japanese history or imperial rule.
BEN: Is that like the Show Me State? That’s a state motto joke. Couldn’t tell you what state. Missouri?
CODY: I have no idea.
BEN: I think Missouri is the Show Me State.
CODY: I don’t — I can’t say I know really any state mottos. So that was the first 15 movies, and then the next seven roughly fell under the next emperor. That first one, Return of Godzilla, is a direct sequel to the original 1954 movie, so it starts the timeline over.
BEN: I was going to say, does that, like, retcon out everything since?
CODY: So it cuts out 14 previous movies, and then starts it over.
BEN: There are 14 movies in the Show Me period.
CODY: And that goes from ‘84 through ‘95.
CODY: And then that was when the first American adaptation attempt was made.
BEN: What do you mean attempt?
CODY: Well, an attempt to be a successful franchise.
BEN: Okay, fair.
CODY: It did perform well at the box office, but I think it was pretty quickly realized that it was not going to last.
BEN: Well, it performed well on home media because I bought it on VHS.
CODY: Well, and funnily enough, they did — so they had planned two sequels to that.
BEN: Ooh, yikes.
CODY: This is the 1998 Godzilla made by TriStar.
BEN: Starring Matthew Broderick as Godzilla.
CODY: And funnily enough, not starring Godzilla technically because in the aftermath of that movie, Toho has registered that character, the monster from that Godzilla, as an entirely different character called Zilla.
CODY: Right, because he’s really not the same at all.
BEN: No, he’s not.
CODY: He doesn’t look the same, doesn’t have the same abilities or origin, even. I think there’s something different about it.
BEN: He is also a she.
CODY: Right. It’s all — it’s a mess. So instead of doing —
BEN: What, do you think women can’t lead their own movies?
CODY: Uh, not in this case, no.
BEN: Alright, well.
CODY: Just not that woman.
CODY: So instead of the two sequels, they put that money instead into doing the animated show, which I forgot existed.
CODY: Right. There was a Fox Kids animated series, Godzilla.
BEN: Well, I remember the Godzilla, I think there was an anime movie, Godzilla 2000 or something?
CODY: This is not the one with an animated one, but that’ll come up a little later, which might be one of the ones who are thinking of.
BEN: That could be.
CODY: This was called the Millennium Period, and it’s six different movies that all —
BEN: Was that the name of the emperor, Emperor Millennium?
CODY: Yes, Emperor Millennium. This one isn’t tied to imperial rule.
BEN: Oh, that’s disappointing.
CODY: Because these are all six movies that are all their own timelines. They’re all direct sequels to the original that have nothing to do with each other.
CODY: And then after that, we get the MonsterVerse currently.
CODY: And then the current Japanese side is they’re doing, they made one sort of modern reimagining of the original Godzilla, Shin Godzilla, or Godzilla: Resurgence, which I really want to see, and I’ve heard very good things about it.
BEN: What’s the reimagined part of it?
CODY: So it’s modern day, and it’s instead of —
BEN: So everyone’s texting the whole time.
CODY: Right, exactly. There’s a big social media component.
BEN: Does it turn out that Godzilla is just a giant iPhone?
CODY: It should.
BEN: Because that’s what it really is.
CODY: When you think about it, no.
CODY: This is, instead of him being borne of the nuclear sort of — you know, the bombings. Instead he comes from the Fukushima disaster from the 2011 tsunami.
CODY: So it’s a whole different set of —
BEN: Odd. So does that change the messaging from the dangers of nuclear war to the dangers of nuclear power?
CODY: I’m not sure. I don’t think that’s it, but it definitely does change the angle of it.
BEN: Well, it’s not antiwar exactly.
CODY: And supposedly it’s very good. I remember at the time it was very well received, but it also doesn’t have any direct sequels. Everything after that that’s come out of Toho has been three animated movies.
CODY: And they have also said, directly mentioned, they were inspired by the Marvel Universe. They are starting their own shared universe, which is, ‘starting’ is one word to use —
CODY: — because they’ve been doing this for half a century.
BEN: Much longer than Marvel has.
CODY: They are starting a new one, I suppose, called World of Godzilla, that’s starting with a movie in 2021.
CODY: So that’s a thing.
CODY: So this movie shares the stage with a lot. There’s a lot going on in the Godzilla franchise.
BEN: Yes, including a pretty good video game in the last chunk of time. I think it was called Destroy All Monsters, that I was very tempted to buy, but I don’t remember what system it was on. I don’t think I had it.
CODY: I believe I played that one a little bit, but not enough to really say anything substantial about it.
BEN: I love any monster fighting game. Like Pacific Rim, if it had a competent game made from it, I would have bought it in a heartbeat.
CODY: It seems like it would be a good thing, just a fighting game, but with monsters instead of other things.
BEN: It’s a fighting game, but with monsters. You could even just re-skin another fighting game essentially, and like half the work’s done for you.
CODY: True, and the other half is just monster sounds.
BEN: Just monster sounds, yeah, which any child and/or rooster can do.
CODY: Right. And we’re ending this episode with you doing your best Godzilla roar.
BEN: I will, yeah.
CODY: So let’s talk about how this is, not in relation to all of those other 34 movies, because one, we haven’t seen all of them. Two, if we had, no thank you.
BEN: This would be a very different podcast if we had.
CODY: That’s too much of a task. But to the other two movies in this MonsterVerse that they’re doing, so Godzilla and Skull Island, where do you think it sits among those?
BEN: I think my overall impression of it was that it was super enjoyable. Like, any movie where I get to watch monsters fighting each other is awesome, and the fact that there were more monsters in this one than there were in the 2014 Godzilla made it enjoyable in that sense. But I also think that the human drama was more compelling in the first Godzilla in 2014. So I feel like they kind of evened out in that sense, but then at the same time, I also really loved the additional world building that came from this Godzilla. So they talked about a little bit more about the hollow earth theory that was first referenced in Kong: Skull Island. They talked about the like, ancient civilizations that worship them as gods. All of that world building stuff I love. Like, I could watch an entire movie that was, like, 50% just world building exposition and 50% monster fights.
CODY: Yeah, no, I think there’s a lot of good stuff in there.
BEN: Yeah, and then Kong: Skull Island, I thought it was fun. It was enjoyable. Again, I think that the human drama didn’t feel super compelling to me. I think the motivation of the military guy who just wants to destroy the monster and the scientists trying to stop him and eventually teaming up with the monster to stop him is for sure, like, I know that’s a common trope, but like, I feel like it’s already been done to death, so I kind of wish there had been more of a twist on that.
CODY: Yeah, I think, for this movie coming after the first Godzilla, which I really enjoy — I really like the 2014 Godzilla — a very common criticism I hear about it is that it doesn’t show enough of Godzilla, and that you’re just watching these people the whole time and you don’t get to see the monster, and then when you do, you see part of him. I think this movie proves why you have to do that.
CODY: Because there’s no teasing of the monsters at all. You see Godzilla very early in his entirety.
BEN: He swims right up.
CODY: In his full glory, fighting against another giant monster, and it’s cool. And then about halfway through the movie, for me, you get really bored with the action, even though it’s technically impressive. It’s just, we’ve been watching this already for 45 minutes, and there’s still a lot of movie to go.
BEN: Yeah. They didn’t ramp up to the action. They jumped right in, and then didn’t really escalate the stakes.
CODY: The pacing of this movie was definitely my biggest problem with it. It was all over the place because in some sense, it is sort of nice to get a lot of action right off the bat so that you’re excited, but then it, you know, it sort of just jumps around and bounces up and down —
BEN: Godzilla does, that is. There’s a dance sequence.
CODY: Right. He does a lot of jumping and dancing. He has a pogo stick.
BEN: Yes, he does.
CODY: And it’s a lot of fun, but I don’t — that was one thing that I really loved about the 2014 Godzilla —
BEN: The dance sequence?
CODY: Yes. Not just waiting until towards the end of the movie to show him —
BEN: In his full glory.
CODY: Right, but also the fact that they were showing pieces of him. I think the best seen from that movie is the skydiving.
BEN: Oh my god, yes.
CODY: When they’re jumping out of the plane, just to see how —
BEN: It’s horrifying.
CODY: It is, and it really it makes the scale come across easier, that you’re seeing these people, you know, dropping out of the sky in a super wide shot, and you’re only seeing just, like, a piece of skin of Godzilla.
BEN: Right. It’s terrifying, and that’s one thing, I’m not sure you really ever get a good sense of scale in this movie. And I mean, obviously they’re huge, but to get that sort of, you know, that realization that oh, they’re really, really big, and this is, the humans are way out of their depth. Most of that is from, I feel, like, buildings and things in this. You don’t really get a whole lot of, you know, the humans directly up against them, or if they are, it’s sort of, you know — towards the end, there’s Millie Bobby Brown’s character like running away from lightning, so it’s like, the monster’s way in the background, and it’s a threat, but you’re not getting a sense of just how outmatched they are, which I think is a big part of monster movies.
BEN: Yeah, agreed. I mean, I think you get an okay sense of how big King Ghidorah is when he’s first introduced as bursting out of the ice in Antarctica, which was awesome to watch. I hadn’t seen him in any of the movies before, other than, like, you know, funny clips of just like a three-headed puppet being wacky, so that was really cool to me. And I was kind of worried that it was gonna play as almost funny because, like, a three-headed monster isn’t — I mean, none of it’s grounded in reality, but like they’re taking the kind of reboot, gritty, you know, post-2010 approach to movies that has been happening a lot lately, and so the fact that he still came off as intimidating, I think, was impressive.
CODY: And I feel like they didn’t sacrifice much of his design because he doesn’t look like a super grit-ified dragon.
BEN: No, he’s still a scaly, three-headed dragon.
CODY: And it’s a very eastern dragon, too, with the sort of characteristics of the face of a Chinese dragon.
CODY: That’s sort of wacky, but it also works, I think.
CODY: Because it’s still — the effects for the movie, even though it gets to be a little much sometimes because of the way it’s written, I thought all of the action in the movie was technically great.
BEN: Yes, it was.
CODY: Because like, that’s, even the — I think where I started to really tire of it is when Rodan fights Ghidorah across the water, when he’s coming across. That was when I started to feel really sort of bogged down by it. But I think if you went back and watched that in isolation on its own, I think it would really hold up really well as looking good.
BEN: But after a movie of a lot of really crazy monster fights, it was kind of, like, alright. Loved Mothra, though.
CODY: So I was wondering how hard it would be for them to incorporate all of these, the big four Titans in this, Godzilla, Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. I thought they all got really good screen time.
CODY: And satisfying, but maybe not too much. I mean, Mothra is cool. There’s only so much you can do with Mothra in a serious movie because it’s a giant singing moth.
BEN: Yes, and glowing.
BEN: Who’s summoned historically in the older movies by two swinging fairy — swinging? — two singing fairy children.
CODY: Which is sort of referenced in this movie as well, because Dr. Chen, who may or may not be a doctor, has a twin sister who also works for Monarch.
BEN: She does! Oh wow.
CODY: Which they show in, like, the picture.
BEN: Well, yeah, in the pictures, when they showed the two, they were showing Dr. Chen, maybe not a doctor, they were showing Chen’s family, and she was saying that she’s, like, one of many in her family to work for Monarch, which is this monster studying organization, and they show a picture of her with another little girl who looks just like her, and I was like, oh my god, it’s the twins! They’re gonna sing! And they didn’t sing, and I was a little bummed because I was hoping for some.
CODY: She was credited, though, in the credits as playing both of them.
CODY: As both twins, so maybe the time will come.
BEN: The can pretty easily pull a Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap in the next one to have them summon Mothra, especially because Mothra — I mean, I was gonna say spoiler alert, but we’ve already discussed the entire film — does not super survive.
BEN: She kind of turns into fairy dust at one point.
CODY: I did read something about there being maybe a headline on a TV in the background about some possible discovery of another Mothra egg after that.
BEN: I was hoping it would be like the mothman in the US.
BEN: Someone was like, ah, it’s Mothra! And it’s just some tiny ass mothman.
CODY: Just a regular moth.
BEN: It’s just it’s just a big moth.
CODY: Yeah, just a slightly larger than usual moth.
BEN: Is this a titan?
CODY: Yeah, that’s the thing, especially with Mothra. Really, you can handwave away any sort of explanation for bringing it back.
BEN: It’s a magic, glowing moth.
CODY: Right, which you can really do with any of them.
CODY: So this idea of this current MonsterVerse as a shared universe of movies, how do we think that’s working or can work? Because I think it’s definitely the easiest approach that you can take to it, which is why it was so successful so long ago with Universal and with these kaiju movies, because the only — you know, with Marvel or DC or something like that, you have to, there’s a lot of rules, really, that you have to understand going into any given movie in the franchise.
BEN: Or relationships, even.
CODY: What’s possible in this world, or what are the stakes? You know, what are the laws here? Is there magic? Different things like that. All you really need to know for any of these is there are monsters.
BEN: Yes, and the rules can change movie to movie.
CODY: Right. Really the only steadfast rule is there are monsters.
CODY: And that’s pretty much it. And they are incorporating other elements in there, but it’s, um — you know, even though I had seen it, I didn’t really pick up on the Monarch thread until watching them back to back, just because I’d sort of forgotten, but because you don’t need to.
BEN: No, that’s totally true. And I don’t even think Monarch was named in the 2014 Godzilla when I rewatched it. I don’t remember the name coming up or even necessarily seeing the logo. It was a big part of Kong: Skull Island, though, which we watched after.
CODY: I think that’s what Sally Hawkins’ character was working for, was Monarch.
BEN: It was. I don’t know if she said it in the first one. I don’t know if she named it.
CODY: Okay. It just wasn’t as prescribed. I think that there’s a lot of room there for them to grow.
BEN: No pun intended because they’re giant monsters.
CODY: Right. So we have Godzilla vs. Kong next year, which is really teased very heavily in this movie. They kept referencing Skull Island and Kong.
BEN: Constantly, and showing full clips from Kong.
CODY: We’ve got Titans everywhere. Don’t forget about Kong.
CODY: To the point where you might have thought, and I thought, like, is he gonna maybe make a little cameo at the end?
BEN: I would have thought so because the Titans from all over the world came to the coronation of Godzilla.
CODY: Well, and I think that will probably be maybe one of the inciting incidents, that he bows to no one, or something along those lines. Who knows?
BEN: Right. He is the king.
CODY: But there is also a lot of other things teased in here that I think is sort of more interesting. One, there is a reference to the Loch Ness Monster.
BEN: Is there?
CODY: But I think that’s more of a sort of a jokey thing. I don’t think they would do an entire movie about it.
BEN: I would be fine if the MonsterVerse also just became, like, a cryptid-verse.
CODY: Well, see, a lot of the other monsters are just things that may be based on a legend or myth, but they’re mentioned in there. And I think that could be even more of an opportunity for them than these because, you know, there’s been a ton of Godzilla movies and a ton of King Kong movies.
CODY: But we got references to, like, Abaddon and Leviathan and Quetzalcoatl.
BEN: Leviathan as in the —
CODY: Big sea monster.
BEN: Got it. And then Quetzalcoatl, the —
CODY: The Mesoamerican myth.
BEN: Yes, god. Bird god.
CODY: Bird snake thing.
BEN: Bird lizard snake, which is awesome.
CODY: Mm-hmm. And then, like, the bunyip, the Australian legend, which is like an alligator thing or something.
BEN: Was it big? Well, everything in Australia is big.
CODY: A ton of things like that where you really could just go around the world, taking these legends and make monster movies about them.
BEN: And I would watch them all.
CODY: And I think those would maybe, they wouldn’t — I think part of the reason why this movie maybe isn’t connecting with audiences as much or getting as much of an audience is because they saw the last Godzilla, and that was a new Godzilla, new effects, brand new thing, and this is sort of maybe more of the same. You know, we’ve seen Godzilla, and it is, even though I think it’s an enjoyable movie, you’re not getting a whole lot new from that because it’s still sort of the same Godzilla.
BEN: He did become a fire Godzilla version at the end. I know there’s, like, kind of different powers that he has in the different iterations, so before he was kind of like a bright, hot white flame, nuclear powered Godzilla. And then in this one, as he was dying, he ended up getting charged up by a nuke, which was either going to make him explode or just turn him into fire, and instead he turned into fire, which was awesome.
CODY: Yeah, it was cool. So in terms of your rankings numerically of the new MonsterVerse, how would you place this new one?
BEN: I would say this would be in second place, with the 2014 Godzilla in first and then Kong in third. Primarily, if I had to figure out why, it would probably be because it was weird watching a Kong movie after having watched these two Godzilla movies where Godzilla was, like, still kind of grounded in reality, in that there was still a dude in a suit, and Kong was not at all. Like, I think they might have still had mo-cap.
CODY: They did.
BEN: But there was definitely not a time when there was a man in a suit, from what I could tell.
CODY: Yeah no, I don’t believe so.
BEN: Which makes a bit more sense. I think it’s harder to make a realistic giant ape suit than a lizard suit. But, you know, technology just hasn’t gotten there yet.
CODY: I see.
BEN: What about you? What are your power rankings?
CODY: I would also put the 2014 Godzilla at the top just because I am still a fighting champion of that, the way they treated the monster.
CODY: But I would put Kong above King of the Monsters.
CODY: Just because it was fun.
BEN: It was fun.
CODY: You know, Godzilla was pretty serious, and the new one was pretty serious as well, and because of the pacing issues, just got to be a little much. Kong doesn’t really take itself too seriously and sort of plays around a lot. So I think that made me enjoy it maybe just a tad more. And I like the, you know, the setting was really fun, doing this post-Vietnam thing, and I thought it did a pretty good job differentiating itself from other Kong movies, if not other monster movies. It definitely is comfortable being a pretty tropey monster movie, but as a King Kong movie, you’re not getting as much of the, you know, the typical capturing King Kong, and —
BEN: Bringing him to New York.
CODY: Beauty killing the beast, you know.
BEN: ‘Twas beauty killed the beast.
CODY: Yeah, so I really liked that.
BEN: I assume It’ll happen in Godzilla vs. Kong.
CODY: Right. Also, it had John Goodman in it.
BEN: Who’s great, and unfortunately died in the movie. He’s alive in real life.
CODY: Yeah, don’t get me worked up.
BEN: I’m not putting that bad juju on him. He’s too important.
CODY: You should not be. But yeah, I still think that King of the Monsters is still a solid movie.
BEN: It was a lot of fun to watch.
CODY: It was, and I would watch it again.
BEN: Yeah, I would.
CODY: I don’t think that I would say that I wouldn’t do that. So about the human stories —
BEN: Yeah, I know that’s not really the focus.
CODY: Maybe should have talked about this before the numerical ranking because that feels like there’s a finality to that, but because it gets brought up so often. You know, some people say, why do we have to watch these humans in the movie? We don’t need a human story. There are people who are adamant about that, you can make a successful traditional monster movie without really focusing on any human story at all. I disagree with that pretty forcefully. I don’t think that you can really accurately portray any sort of scale or threat or stakes without getting something to latch onto. I don’t think there’s enough there for a monster movie to work without having some sort of smaller story to ground it.
BEN: Well, I mean, the monsters are certainly humanized. Like, I mean, they are capable of communicating. I mean, that’s one of the big plots of King of the Monsters, is that they kind of can all communicate amongst one another with this echolocation-esque type thing, and then the humans then can use that to try to control them. But, you know, life finds a way. So the fact that the monsters are all intelligent, for the most part. They’re capable of communicating with each other. They’re capable of understanding human motivation and knowing, like, this human’s good, this human is bad. I think there certainly can be conflict with the monsters beyond just they’re trying to kill us, but rather, like, are they here to help us or are they not? Rather than just purely they’re a force of nature with no mind, which I think was kind of where the original Toho movies were, was more just like these are forces of nature that we can’t possibly comprehend, whereas now I think they focus more on they’re more than just mindless monsters. They know to some degree what they’re doing. They act with motivation. They plan things out. Even so, I don’t think that a somewhat-humanly-behaving Godzilla with a somewhat-humanly-behaving Mothra movie would really work. Like, that relationship wouldn’t be super engaging to watch. Like, we can’t really relate to a moth and a lizard the way we can to a white man screaming in the OG American adaptation. So if they made a white man version of Mothra, just slap some wings on a guy, I would watch it.
CODY: I think, ignoring that entirely —
CODY: — King of the Monsters does make a pretty decent point about the way humans factor into the monsters’ views because it’s sort of revealed at the end, this sonic communication device that Vera Farmiga’s character has developed, they can’t figure out what it is, the other signal that she’s using in it to develop these ways to communicate with the Titans. And it’s sort of revealed at the end that it uses human signals because they are another apex predator. You know, top of the food chain.
BEN: Titans in their own way.
CODY: I think that fits. I don’t think a monster movie means much if you’re not getting not just the way that it affects humans, but how — I mean, one of the reasons Godzilla stuck so well initially is because it was sort of our fault.
CODY: We helped create it, and it was nature biting back. I think you need that. At least with a kaiju movie, that’s a really integral part of it. It’s how humans factor into how and why it’s happening. And they get into that, too, in this movie, that it’s all — they say it’s a force of nature, but it’s for balance. You know, humans are destroying the planet, so this is the way that the planet fights back, that sort of thing.
BEN: The planet has a fever to wipe out the virus, the virus being humans destroying the planet.
CODY: If you’re just having monsters, not even just fighting — because people who say, you know, I go to a monster movie to see them fighting the whole time — no, you don’t, and you would hate that.
BEN: Yes, if it was us that for, like, an hour and 40.
CODY: And then you would look at me with those doe eyes, not knowing what was wrong with it. That’s what is wrong. You can’t just have them fighting the whole time. But I just, I don’t think, even if you had a Godzilla movie where you, you know, in between his fights he goes and hangs out in his underground home and does…what?
BEN: Watches TV?
CODY: Like, who cares?
CODY: I don’t buy into any of those arguments. So if you see any of those out there, if you happen to look at reviews of this movie, and for sure, you will see those opinions out there, take it with a grain of salt because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
BEN: That’s fair.
CODY: It’s just ridiculous.
CODY: You gotta have the humans.
BEN: You gotta have heart.
CODY: I think we can make a really good transition from Godzilla into RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is what we’re talking about after this break.
BEN: Well, I mean, yeah, the transition makes itself. Dragzilla, Queen of the Monsters.
CODY: Good one.
BEN: Thank you.
CODY: We’ll be back in just a sec.