Godzilla vs Kong: Ways to Tame the Monsters in Our Life (And Why We Shouldn’t Call Them Monsters)

RAWR!!!

Confession: That was the first word that came to mind when I sat down in front of the keyboard, so I rolled with it.

And why not? I mean, we’re talking about the granddaddies of cinematic monsters – Godzilla vs. Kong! So we go BIG.

And if we look deeper beyond the rock ’em, sock ’em MONSTER MAYHEM, we may even find a Silver Screen Self Care lesson or two.

Hungry for a Blockbuster

Godzilla vs. Kong is the culmination of a four movie buildup, beginning with 2014’s Godzilla, followed by Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters over the next five years. Needless to say, anticipation was high. Especially with pandemic-inflicted movie lovers starving for a blockbuster.

Theater-goers responded by scaring up $48.7 million domestically in the first five days at the box office, a Covid-19 era record. The performance raised hopes that, like the Big G himself, the theater industry is merely laying dormant, waiting to inevitably rise again from the depths.

Monster Mash, A Straight Up Bash?

The plot: Godzilla and Kong meet. They fight.

Surely there’s more to it, you say?  Beyond a monster battle royale?  Well, yes, but let’s be honest… PLOT? Meh.

Okay. Here’s the non-spoilery lowdown: Kong has been living under the watchful eye of kind scientists on a controlled Skull Island environment. He’s… grown up. Apparently, he was merely a baby monster during the events of his previous cinematic venture! 

Meanwhile, Godzilla, now well established as earth’s protector thanks to 2018’s King of the Monsters, is displaying behavior that challenges this status as one of the “good guys.” What’s going on? 

Events dictate that Kong must leave the island. Since there can be only one alpha, the two famous behemoths MUST go at it. MONSTER LAW!

Does it deliver? YES!  The special effects are stellar. And while the dialogue is clunky, the action is not.

They clash on land, they battle in the sea. There is even a set piece in the middle of the earth itself, known as Hollow Earth! We can easily follow each carnage inducing blow and it is just plain fun. 

Ahhhhhh, real monsters!

Kong is the one given the hero’s turn this time and his “performance” gathers our sympathy. His relationship with Jiya (Kaylee Hottle), an orphaned Native girl from the island, is the heart of the movie. 

Godzilla, on the other hand, is lended little personality. But does he ever pack a wallop!

The only real complaint is that the two probably only share about 20 minutes of screen time together.

Which brings us to… 

Those Boring Humans

*yawn*  

It is an unspoken agreement between filmmakers and monster movie lovers since the beginning. The cross we must bear. The human subplots!

One such subplot revolves around Madison (Millie Bobby Brown, Enola Holmes), the young heroine from the last Godzilla film. She’s skipping school to prove that Godzilla is still the monster hero we deserve. He’s just misunderstood, she says. A small consolation to those who live in work in all those destroyed skyscrapers in Hong Kong, I am sure.

This leads to a team up with her nerdy and exposition spewing friend Josh (Julian Dennison) to track down Bernie (Bryan Tyree Henry, Atlanta), a conspiracy podcaster and investigator. The trio provides most of the comedic beats, but are mostly inconsequential, save a crucial role in the final act, but in a completely nonsensical way!

And remember Monarch, the top secret organization linked through all the movies in the “monsterverse,” tasked with “discovery and defense in a time of monsters”? Yep, they’re back.

Role call: Mark Russell, Monarch scientist and father of Madison, makes a return. But don’t get too attached. It amounts to a glorified cameo role. Sorry Kyle Chandler fans!

The primary antagonist comes in the form of Apex Cybernetics, a corporation bent on riding the world of Godzilla and the rest of his ilk, returning control to humanity. No Godzilla? Booooooo. We don’t like them!

Apex is led by CEO Walter Simmons (Damien Bichir), who recruits Hollow Earth expert Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) to secure a needed power source from the planet’s core. This leads Lind to find anthropological linguist Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her adopted deaf daughter, the aforementioned Jia, who have a special bond and influence with Kong, who is, himself, a vital cog in the expedition.

Did you follow all that or have your eyes glazed over?

*yawn*

Who imbues the humans with the most, well, humanity? That would be Jia, who’s emotional connection with Kong becomes our connection. She is fearless! Part of that is her employing of American Sign Language to communicate with the big guy and the two forge an understanding with one another. Hottle, a young deaf actress in her first feature film role, is a revelation!

Who’s that stealing all the scenes? It’s Kaylee Hottle.

Empathy is the key to Jia’s success with reaching Kong.

READ MORE: Freaky Friday: How to do Empathy, Even Without a Body Swap

Know Your ‘Monsters’

We can take a lesson from the Jia-Kong dynamic. Using ASL, she was able to make a meaningful connection to a scary thing.

What are the “monsters” – the mental health struggles, the vices or addictions, the destructive habits – in our own lives? Perhaps it requires a similar reframing. What if instead of viewing these personal monsters as something to be conquered and vanquished (which is FAR easier said than done), we sought to understand it.

Perhaps “monsters” isn’t the best word to use here despite fitting in so well with the theme and we love being Team Kong or Team Godzilla! The term has negative connotations and may only serve to further the stigma attached to mental health and mental illness.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not uncommon. Consider these statistics from the American Psychiatric Association. On any given year:

  • Nearly one in five adults (19 percent) experience some form of mental illness.
  • One in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness.
  • One in 12 (8.5 percent) has a diagnosable substance abuse disorder.

I liken it mental illness any other medical problem we may face, such as diabetes or health disease. And health conditions are treatable. So vanquish it? No. But manage it? YES!

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

So here we are, like Monarch, for “discovery and defense.”

You know, like Jia finding a way to communicate with Kong. Or Madison’s quest to figure out Godzilla. Let’s go to work!

Here is some sound strategy, as provided by Psych Central, to regain stability and get on with life. These things really helped me tame my Kong-sized depression. It says:

  • Remind yourself that you are not alone. Sure there are those out there who don’t understand, and just plain insensitive, but the odds show that there are plenty who DO understand because they are going through the same (see statistics above). It’s just that we are terrible at talking about it! Most do want to be helpful and provide support. Hang onto that.
  • Pay Attention to your body, as well as your mind. It’s not just “in your head.” Too often, our bodies are trying to tell us something. So we’d better listen! Also keep in mind that thyroid disorders, heart disorders, and vitamin deficiancies are just a few things that may disguise themselves as mental illness. Regular visits to a medical doctor is vitally important.
  • Take care of your body, even when you don’t feel like it. Yep, self care!! Eat healthy meals, get plenty of sleep, limit your screen time, do something as simple as showering and dress in ways that make you feel good. In my experience, exercise has been key with my recovery plan. My pal, Finn (aka the Moving Movie Dog!), is integral to getting me out of bed and out the door!
  • If your doctor prescribes medication, take it as prescribed. Understand what it will do for you and discuss with your doctor anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Take only what is given and correct dosage. Do not improvise!
  • Go to therapy. Not the first time you will read that message on this site, and certainly won’t be the last! Check with your employer. Some workplaces offer therapy as part of its Employee Assistance Program, at least in a limited capacity. Here is a resource to locate therapy options near you.
  • Reach out to others. Isolation is always tempting, but never helpful. Everyone needs a support system. Remember the wise words of the Blues Brothers: Everybody needs somebody.

Oh, yeah, and RAWR!

Where to Watch

Godzilla vs Kong is currently showing in theaters and is also streaming on HBO Max through April 30. In other words, it’s nice to have options: Go big or stay home!

What did you think of Godzilla vs Kong? What are some strategies that you have employed to tame the challenging mental health forces in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Director: Adam Wingard

Screenwriter: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein

Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Kaylee Hottle, Rebecca Hall, Bryan Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Julian Dennison, Demian Bichir

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief violence.

Runtime: 113 minutes

Comments

  1. Elaine

    Oh wow! Brilliant post🤩 i can’t wait to see this film myself, it’s so amazing to finally have a blockbuster film to rave about again! I particularly love how you linked the concept of monster to our real world lives. It’s so important and you are so thorough with your reminders to ask for help and that it’s okay not to be okay, and that it’s definitely okay to ask for help! ✨everybody needs somebody ✨

    1. Post
      Author
      Scott Harrison Rees

      Yeah, if you are into monster mayhem, you should come away well pleased! Oooh, I like that –
      “It’s okay to not be okay, and that it’s okay to ask for help.” Yeah, isolating myself last year was one of my biggest mistakes. Of course, it certainly didn’t help being in the middle of a pandemic. Thanks for reading!

  2. Unwanted Life

    I wasn’t expecting this post to end up talking about mental health, but I love how you did it. As for the film itself, how did human technology get so advanced between the film’s? One of the reasons I watched the film was because I wanted to know how they were going to make it possible for Kong to complete with Godzilla who’s way out of his class, hence the super advance technology they had to force into the film. Too much had to go on to force a fight where Kong wouldn’t die in the first minute of fighting Godzilla that it may make it hard to do another monster film with either of them

  3. April

    Fun post! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Godzilla or King Kong flick in my life but I really enjoyed the write-up and the mental health tips. RAWRRRRR!

  4. Michelle Faler

    Sorry, I just got around to reading this. What a fun yet insightful post! I agree that with the exception of the little girl, the humans were pretty boring and didn’t contribute much to the plot. However, I didn’t go into this expecting Sorkin-quality writing and character development. I wanted to see the movie monsters I love in an epic battle while smashing into buildings, so this didn’t disappoint lol. I like how you equate mental health struggles with “monsters” that aren’t so scary if we seek to understand them. When I realized my anxiety disorder wasn’t some evil force trying to destroy me, I was better able to control it. I love the self-care suggestions you provide at the end…as well as that awesome Blues Brothers reference. 🙂

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