CRITICAL – Entertainment without any philosophical pretension, Adam Wingard’s film fulfills its mission, providing titanic fights between two monsters of pop culture.
Watch Godzilla vs Kong, it’s a bit like going to the fun fair. We suspect that the show will be there. But we still have a bit of a bad conscience. Once one realizes that this type of regressive, childish blockbuster primarily referred to a cheerful and casual pop mythology, rather than a dark treatise on Greek theology, one can start watching Godzilla vs Kong for what it is: giant entertainment that promises a distracting titanic fight. And nothing more!
Since the first Japanese film released in 1962, then redesigned by the Americans in 1963, water has flowed under the bridges. A certain innocence is gone. Naivety is no longer really part of big-show movies. However, in these times of pandemic, we would really need this type of “cinema bis”, simple and effective.
In its genre, Godzilla vs Kong scrupulously respects its specifications. Once accepted the starting concept, that is to say the fact that it is necessary to detach oneself from the poetic masterpiece King Kong, realized in 1933 by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, one can see King Kong like a champion, a titanic creature having integrated a kind of “Monsterverse”, ready to discover some with any other fabulous or dark animal chimera.
Like all films which feature the rivalry between two forces of nature, Godzilla vs Kong begins by presenting the opponents. All honor: the film begins with Kong, who evolves in his natural environment, on his island and in the jungle of Skull Island … reconstructed down to the blade of grass in a sort of huge padded technological laboratory. It feels like The Truman Show… King Kong wakes up. The day begins. A deaf and mute little girl he saved, comes to pay him his morning tributes, under the cameras of two scientists, including the charming Rebecca Hall. King Kong lives confined to an island … We already feel very close to this sad great ape.
Then, barely ten minutes into the film, Godzilla appears! This dear radioactive saurian bursts into Florida in Pensacola and ravages the hyper-technological facilities of the firm Apex genetics. The creature appears to have tipped over to the dark side of the Force. What to do? To save Humanity, let’s oppose another monster such as King Kong who becomes the champion of humans …
Famous for Blair witch (2016) and Death Note (2017), director Adam Wingard, 38, seems to have had fun choreographing the titanic clashes between the two monsters. We are very far from the cardboard and miniature articulated models of the first films. Here, the spectacle is perfectly regressive, but spectacular.
On the one hand, the hairy. On the other, the scaly: in the center, a ring presents either aircraft carriers and other fighter planes in the middle of the ocean. Or a bunch of buildings like castles of cards …
Some images are strong, like the one of Kong’s arrival in Antarctica. We furtively think of A monkey in winter. Then, in the blink of an eye, we plunge into the heart of other more childish memories such as The lost World by Conan Doyle, or The Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne … And presto! These are the pterodactyls dear to the myth of the hollow earth.
In addition to its explicit references to the Lovecraftian myth of the Great Old Ones, the film’s atmosphere oscillates between Pacific Rim and Tron legacy. The deepest science fiction rubs shoulders with submerged worlds Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard. The mixture is surprising, but we don’t have time to dwell on it!
Above all, what the monumental finale of this popcorn entertainment teaches us is that we can easily explain to children the concept of hybris, this faulty movement of exceeding the limit. Because yes, without revealing the central argument of the film, it is clearly referred to this ancient Greek notion, this sin of hybris in the form of a violent feeling inspired by passions, arrogance and pride.
The hybris is the excessiveness of certain humans who sometimes take themselves for gods. Now “know thyself” writes Socrates in his great wisdom. This maxim, present at the entrance to the temples, actually meant: “Know that you are mortal, and not divine”.
Looking at the colossal combs that Godzilla and King Kong give each other, we become obscurely aware of the smallness of our human condition. In this, the film achieves its goal: nature is stronger than all the most sophisticated technologies developed by man. This lesson is well worth a blockbuster … however childish it may be.
Available on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV or Canal VOD at 13.99 euros