Monster Movie March: Godzilla and King Kong in the “MonsterVerse”

Looking for a way to beat the boredom of staying indoors during COVID-19? How about turning on some classic monster movies. Our Communiqué resident movie reviewer Noah Napolitano recently watched two of them and weighed in on how they measured up.

Noah Napolitano

Godzilla (2014)

We now start the REAL road to Godzilla vs Kong. This movie is basically the “Iron Man” (2008) of this shared cinematic universe which is called the “MonsterVerse”.

This movie was the second American made Godzilla movie after the Roland Emmerich movie from 1998 with Matthew Broderick, which isn’t very good. This movie was also the first Godzilla movie made in about 10 years, as the last Toho made Godzilla movie was in 2004. I have seen this movie before, and it holds a special place in my heart as the first Godzilla movie I ever saw. It is the movie that made me love the Godzilla series. 

This movie has some pretty good human characters played by pretty big actors like Brian Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson. Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson also played Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. So never watch this movie after watching “Age of Ultron” because they go from being brother and sister, to husband and wife, and it makes me kinda uncomfortable. A complaint I have about this movie though, is that Cranston dies within the first hour of the movie, and then Johnson is the main character. 

This movie also has the return of Dr. Serizawa from the original Godzilla film (this movie is a reboot, so it’s not the same character). This time, Dr. Serizawa is played by Ken Watanabe, who is not only one of the best characters in this movie, but for some reason, Ken Watanabe is one of my top 100 favorite actors. He is in this movie, Detective Pikachu, and even Batman Begins. But enough about the human characters, time to talk about Godzilla himself.

This movie has probably my favorite version of Godzilla yet, in most Godzilla movies, Godzilla has very little screen time, and usually I find it kind of annoying. But in this movie, Godzilla’s limited screen time just makes scenes where he is doing awesome stuff just that much better. This movie’s evil monsters are two M.U.T.O.s or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms. While they aren’t very iconic or beloved, they make great villains that you just can’t wait for Godzilla to destroy. 

Another thing that I loved about this movie is the cinematography. In most scenes of Godzilla or the M.U.T.O.s, we see them from the perspective of of people inside cars, buildings or on the ground, which makes them seem massive and powerful. I absolutely love it!

I don’t love how much of the movie is set during the nighttime, since Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s are often pretty hard to see in the dark. Both are made up of primarily darker colors, which makes it hard to see what’s happening all the time. 

All around, I really enjoy this movie, the anti-nuclear messages of Godzilla’s past are all but gone now, but the film is more about action and excitement, and I am all for it. 


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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

King Kong movies often aren’t varied, with most of Kong’s movies being remakes.  There was a 1976 King Kong movie with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, and a 2006 Peter Jackson Kong movie with Jack Black and Naomi Watts. Besides remakes of the original, Kong hasn’t had as much of an illustrious movie catalog with only 12 movies, compared to Godzilla, who has 36 movies. 

New stories for Kong are usually weird sequels or spin-offs where he fights a robotic Kong, and the two times he has fought Godzilla. However, this movie is completely different to what came before and finally breaks King Kong out of his fate of being killed atop the Empire State Building. 

Instead, this movie centered on a group of people who are stranded on Skull Island, trying to escape, and King Kong is actually the hero. One thing that really sets this movie apart is the characters. This movie is set right after the Vietnam War, and we follow several characters as they try to survive Skull Island (which in of itself is based off Vietnam). 

We have a few scientists, one of whom is played by John Goodman, an ex-military tracker played by Tom Hiddleston, an anti-war photographer played by Brie Larson, a World War Two pilot who was stranded on Skull Island played by John C. Riley and a group of soldiers who are led by Samuel L. Jackson. 

Out of all the movies throughout this month, this one easily has my favorite group of human characters. All of them are interesting and have great interactions between each other. Also, unlike many human characters in the films of the past, there is actual humor, especially from John C. Riley’s character who is legitimately hilarious. Samuel L. Jackson is especially good as an antagonist. After Kong wipes out most of his soldiers, he desperately wants to kill Kong, and he will stop at nothing to do so. 

But now it’s time to talk about King Kong himself. This version of Kong is easily my favorite.  In the original, I complained about how King Kong really wasn’t the hero, and how even the natives of Skull Island seemed to hate Kong. In this version however, Kong is TRULY the hero of this movie. We see how Kong defends the natives of Skull Island (who are called the Iwi in this movie) from the Skull Crawlers, who are basically evil snake/lizard monsters. Kong is less of a sacrificial god, like in the original, and more of a protective warrior. 

Even though Kong killed some of Samuel L. Jackson’s pilots, we are given a clear reason why. Kong took down the helicopters so that more Skull Crawlers wouldn’t be awoken. 

Another thing I love about this version of King Kong is that we see Kong being not only a creature with emotions, but also a creature that can think and problem solve. We see Kong using trees and Skull Crawlers as weaponry, near the end of the movie, and we see Kong using a propeller attached to a chain from an old boat as a kind of mace against a Skull Crawler. 

This movie is also the first of this series of movies to have an end credits scene, similar to what happens at the end of Marvel films. After the end credits, we see cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Which sets up Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which I’ll be reviewing in the next installment of this review series. 

Which is Better?

For this week of Monster Movie March, the winner is…Kong: Skull Island. This week’s winner was harder to decide on, as I really enjoy both movies, but personally, I enjoyed Skull Island more.  

The characters and setting make this movie feel more unique and fun. Godzilla is still a very enjoyable movie, but I find myself always wanting for the movie to skip to the final act so I can watch Godzilla destroy some evil monsters. However, Skull Island is a pretty enjoyable movie from start to finish. 

I am glad that King Kong’s movie won this week, because Godzilla (1954) won during Week 1, so now Godzilla and King Kong are tied as we enter the final week of Monster Movie March.