Tag Archives: Kong: Skull Island

My Thoughts on: Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

After delays and delays, I finally sat down this afternoon to watch Godzilla vs Kong, the fourth entry in the MonsterVerse that also includes Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. As the title implies, this film centers around an epic clash between Godzilla and Kong, the two most dominant Titans left on Earth after the events of Godzilla: KOTM.

Given that there are currently no concrete plans for a fifth entry in the MonsterVerse, it would not be unreasonable to look at Godzilla vs Kong as the ending for the story that started in 2014 with Godzilla. Even if the story does continue, there’s no denying that Godzilla vs Kong gets almost everything right and blows every expectation away. Everyone who comes in hoping for that epic kaiju fight is going to get exactly what they wanted. The action is huge, explosive, and was definitely made with an IMAX screen in mind (indeed, I found myself cursing several times throughout the film that I was limited to my TV screen at home because i could tell how this was meant to look in a theater).

Due to wanting to avoid major spoilers, I’m not going to go too in depth with my analysis, but I do want to try and cover some things that I liked. That being said, you should be warned that spoilers of varying sizes may be found after this point.

One of my biggest gripes in Godzilla: King of the Monsters was that the ‘Hollow Earth’ concept (first broached in Kong: Skull Island) wasn’t touched on enough. Well, to put it bluntly, Godzilla vs Kong gave me everything and more that I ever wanted of the Hollow Earth. Not only was it beautifully rendered, it was presented in a way that felt completely believable and, most tantalizingly, it feels like a location that could be visited in future films. And not just in sequels either, I could easily visualize a prequel (or series of prequels even) that details certain events hinted at in this film but set completely in the Hollow Earth. I would pay big money to see that happen.

The best part of the entire film is the conflict between Godzilla and Kong, which as you might expect spans most of the film. I admit to being skeptical about how the filmmakers would pull this fight off, but by god not only did they DO it, they also made it completely believable. I have no trouble believing that Godzilla and Kong are equal combatants (more or less), and while I won’t say who comes out on top, it is presented like a fight that could have gone either way. And that’s how it SHOULD be, you would never sell me on the idea that one opponent far outclasses the other. This was a nail-biting fight to the bitter end and that’s what I got and that’s what I loved about it.

And then there’s MechaGodzilla. I almost considered not mentioning this but I figured at this point I think we all pretty much knew about him being in the film (thanks Internet). I was almost disappointed about this character being in the film, but then I saw how it was presented and I was enraptured by the entire sequence. That was the best way possible to introduce MechaGodzilla to American audiences.

If I had one gripe about Godzilla vs Kong, it’s that there seems to be a clear divide between the characters we met in Godzilla: KOTM and those associated with Kong. It gave me the faint feeling of two films spliced together, but then I remembered that this is the kind of film where, we’re not really here to see the human characters, we’re here strictly for the giant monster fight. And at the end of the day, I’m okay with that because the monster action rocked!

That being said, I need to give a shout out to Kaylee Hottle, a deaf actress that appears in the film as Jia. Deaf characters still don’t get highlighted in major films as much as they should be (John Wick Chapter 2 features Ares (Ruby Rose) signing ASL), and it was refreshing to see not only a character that was acknowledged to be deaf, but also played by an actor that’s deaf too (in John Wick Chapter 2, Ares might have been deaf but Ruby Rose is not). That was one of my favorite parts of the film and I hope future films use this as an example for how they can include deaf characters moving forward.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a proper review on Film Music Central if I didn’t mention the music for a moment. While I feel that Bear McCreary’s score for Godzilla: KOTM is superior, I did enjoy Hans Zimmer’s music for Godzilla vs Kong, even if the parts I liked best were the amalgamations of past Godzilla and Kong themes joined together. If you listen carefully, you can hear musical excerpts from all the past MonsterVerse films throughout the story. And, rather cleverly, I think a big portion of the Kong “musical homage” was including songs in the musical score, a la Kong: Skull Island in 2017. It heightened the idea that all of the past MonsterVerse films were leading to this moment.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I really enjoyed Godzilla vs Kong, it’s the fun big action movie I’ve been wanting to see since the pandemic madness started. Whether you go see it in theaters (please be safe if you do) or on HBO Max, please go see it, it really is worth the time. If this is how the MonsterVerse ends, then I am content with the story it has told. But I wouldn’t say no to more entries either. I guess only time will tell if the story of Godzilla and Kong (and more) continues.

Let me know what you think about Godzilla vs Kong in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Kong: Skull Island (2017), my thoughts

My Thoughts on: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

The official soundtrack for Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now available. The music for the third installment in the Monsterverse (following Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017)) was composed by Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead). This film sees the world under assault from a series of titans, including Rodan, and the seemingly almighty King Ghidorah. It will ultimately be up to Godzilla to prove himself the alpha monster and take his place as King of the Monsters.

Regarding the score, Bear McCreary had this to say:

“For Godzilla, I chose to incorporate and adapt the legendary Akira Ifukube’s iconic theme, and for Mothra, Yuji Koseki’s immortal ‘Mothra’s Song,’ both being classic themes from the franchise’s origins,” McCreary explained. “I hoped to form a connection between Ifukube’s uniquely brilliant style and the aesthetics of modern blockbusters.”

Additionally, “director Michael Dougherty used the term “Monster Opera” when describing the magnitude and importance of the score to the storytelling.”

I definitely get the sense of “Monster Opera” when listening to McCreary’s score for this film. The music overall creates an epic sense of scope that matches what I’ve seen of the monsters in the previews thus far. The music proclaims what we’ve long known: Godzilla: King of the Monsters is going to be an epic clash on every level.

McCreary does a masterful job incorporating Ifukube’s iconic theme for Godzilla into the score. It’s played relatively straight in the main title, but then McCreary…heightens it, if that makes sense, by incorporating a variety of instruments, remixing the theme to help it reach even greater levels of grandeur. The original theme reappears throughout the score, and I love that McCreary took the time to musically tie this Godzilla film back to the original, as if to say “this is a true successor to the original Godzilla, the music say so.”

Aside from the tracks that include McCreary’s take on the original theme, “Rodan” is quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks in the score. I’m not sure if this is Rodan’s theme or simply music associated with his appearance in a scene (there IS a difference), but I love this music anyway. I think this track exemplifies just how dangerous Rodan and the other titans are. McCreary incorporates loud trumpet blasts that I suspect might be mimicking the sounds that Rodan makes (that is a complete guess on my part, I haven’t seen any of the original kaiju films that have Rodan in them so I’m not sure what he sounds like). And if nothing else, these trumpet blasts symbolize the danger that Rodan represents. This music is loud, it’s blaring, it practically screams “Oh my god, RUN!”

And then there’s the music associated with Ghidorah, the monster I’m most looking forward to seeing apart from Godzilla himself. I can’t name these particular tracks because it might lead to some spoilers, but the music that makes up Ghidorah’s theme and is otherwise associated with him left me completely enraptured. I swear McCreary has incorporated into the music a sense of motion that mimics Ghidorah’s three heads moving and twisting about. I am very excited to hear this music in context once the film comes out.

Overall, this is a fantastic film score. For the sake of avoiding potential spoilers I’m not covering the entire soundtrack but believe me when I say this soundtrack latches onto you and doesn’t let you go until the end. Some tracks are fraught with tension, and in others you can almost feel the monsters stomping about as the music plays. Even though the film doesn’t come out until next week, I’m convinced that McCreary has created a score that will seamlessly intertwine with the action to create a spellbinding story. You should definitely listen to this soundtrack when you get the chance, it is one of the best I’ve heard so far this year.

Once you listen to the score (and see the film), let me know what you think about the soundtrack for Godzilla: King of the Monsters in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: The Predator (2018)

The Predator (2018) is the latest entry in the Predator franchise, serving as a direct sequel to Predator 2 (the film ignores Predators (2010)). The score for this film was composed by Henry Jackman, who has established himself as one of today’s top composers by fusing his classical training and his experience as a successful record producer and creator of electronic music. His work includes Captain PhillipsX-Men: First Class and Captain America: Winter Soldier; Kingsman: The Golden Circle; Wreck-It-Ralph, and Oscar-winner Big Hero 6. His most recent work can be heard in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Captain America: Civil War, and Kong; Skull Island.

Given that this is a Predator film, some of the musical elements are predictable. There is a notable martial quality to a lot of the music, exemplified by heavy brass and fast, driving rhythms (not quite to the level that Hans Zimmer has been known to employ, but similar) during the action sequences. However next to this is a level of delicacy that you would not expect to find. Jackman makes a healthy use of the strings and woodwinds throughout the score and it provides for some refreshing musical ‘breathers’ in between the bombastic moments.

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Two examples include ‘Arrival’ (the opening cue) and ‘Rory’ (the theme for McKenna’s son). I remember it surprised me greatly, sitting in the theater, when the film started with the sound of strings (I was expecting a musical ‘bang’ right from the start). To be sure, the music quickly moves into more energetic territory, but I do feel that it says something that the score started with a quieter melody (somewhat fitting as the film opens with a view of space). And ‘Rory’ might just be the cue I like best out of the entire soundtrack. Beginning with the piano and moving into strings and woodwinds, ‘Rory’ is a perfect theme for McKenna’s autistic son. It begins hesitantly (as Rory as just been tormented by some bullies) but then grows with confidence as the young kid demonstrates his abilities by resetting multiple chess boards.

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Two more cues that I’d like to highlight briefly are ‘Project Stargazer’ and ‘Beautiful Specimen.’ Both cues take place when Dr. Bracket  (Olivia Munn) is taken to see the captured Predator and contain that martial quality I referred to earlier. My favorite moment from these two comes in ‘Project Stargazer’; the music notably peaks at the moment when Bracket views the captured alien for the first time (a nice example of how the music can reflect plot developments).

Listening to the soundtrack apart from the film has reaffirmed one thing for me: Henry Jackman’s score makes The Predator a better film than it would have been without it. Of course good music can only take a film so far, but Jackman certain put in a very good effort.

What do you think of the score for The Predator? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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Kong: Skull Island (2017), my thoughts

Well…I liked that a lot more than I thought I might. *various spoilers follow from this point*

This past Saturday afternoon I finally got to see Kong: Skull Island, the second installment in the giant monsters universe established by Godzilla (2014). Set in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War, Kong follows an expedition led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) to the titular Skull Island, a previously unknown land mass that was only recently discovered by satellites. Randa claims the group (which is being escorted by a section of soldiers led by Col. Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) is there to study the geology of the island, but in truth, they’re also there to flush something out. That something being Kong…King Kong.

Kong destroys most of the expedition after they drop a series of “seismic charges” (i.e. bombs) on the island, unwittingly awakening a number of nasty monsters dubbed “skull-crawlers” by a character we meet later on. The survivors are initially separated over a wide area, but they are soon joined into two groups: one led by Col. Packard, the other led by James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former captain in the SAS. The goal is to make it to the north side of the island where they can signal their ship for a rescue. Naturally things don’t do according to plan.

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A large section of the film is devoted to watching numerous characters get picked off one by one by the various oversized creatures that inhabit the island (one of the most terrifying incidents involving a giant spider with legs that resemble bamboo trees), as well as the skull-crawlers (which are rapidly growing in size). Conrad’s group encounters the Iwi, a tribe that have been living on the island since time immemorial. Among them is a surprise: Lt. Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), an American pilot shot down in 1944 by a Japanese pilot (who also crashed along with him). For the last 28 years he’s been living with the Iwi, and now he has a chance to leave with Conrad’s group (even though he’s pretty sure the skull-crawlers (the name he gave them because it sounded scary) will get them first). Marlow and Conrad’s group (which includes female photographer Mason Weaver) depart on a boat Marlow and his former Japanese enemy cobbled together from their wrecked planes before a skull-crawler nabbed the latter and head upriver towards their destination. But once they meet up with Col. Packard’s group, Conrad and company realize that something is seriously wrong.

Col. Packard is a very interesting character, and a great case study in how war can change a man for better or worse. Packard has been a soldier for a very long time now, and has earned multiple decorations, but with the end of the Vietnam War, he is struggling to find his place in the world (that’s why he happily accepted the order to escort the group to Skull Island, as it gave him something to do). Seeing Kong wipe out a large portion of the men he’s commanded for several years has given Packard an unbreakable fixation: to kill Kong by whatever means necessary, even if it means they all die in the process. I believe that, in Packard’s eyes, Kong is the living embodiment of the war in Vietnam that never got finished. Against the warnings of Conrad and Marlow (the latter attempting to explain that Kong is the only thing keeping the skull-crawlers at bay), Packard comes up with a plan to trap Kong in a lake filled with napalm while Conrad leads his group to the north. At the last minute, Conrad returns and convinces most of the soldiers to stand down, but not Packard, he simply can’t let go of what happened to his men. As a result, he is the latest victim of Kong’s rage.

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The flight to the northern coast is dominated by a massive fight between Kong and the largest of the skull-crawlers (which was awakened by the large napalm explosion). It’s a titanic battle, and very well executed (the CGI doesn’t look fake at all). Ultimately, Kong is successful, the skull-crawler is killed and Conrad and the others rendezvous with their ship, while Kong watches from a distance.

There’s so much more to the story that I’m leaving out, but I don’t want to completely spoil everything. There is a loose connection to Godzilla where M.U.T.O’s are mentioned (the same term is used in the earlier film) and a post-credit scene (that I completely missed) sees two characters informed of the existence of other giant monsters besides King Kong (which is apparently the lead in to Kong and Godzilla squaring off in three years time, still not sure how I feel about that by the way).

My one complaint with the film is that there were too many characters to keep track of. I understand why this is (as most of these side characters end up dead), but as a result most of the people we meet aren’t as fleshed out as they might have been with a slightly smaller ensemble.

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Favorite moments include:

Any and all scenes including Tom Hiddleston, especially a scene in the second half of the film where, in the midst of poison gas, he dons a gas mask, grabs a samurai sword (long story about how it got to the island) and goes completely medieval on a bunch of monsters!

The fight between Kong and the giant octopus

Kong’s backstory, as explained by Marlow, which really explains a lot about what Kong is doing on the island (it doesn’t explain EVERYTHING, but it does help)

Kong: Skull Island really is a good movie, especially if you’re looking for a fun two hours filled with action (and the slightest HINT of romance), so I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

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See also:

My Thoughts on: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

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