Godzilla Vs. Kong - OK, so did anybody else see this thing? (open spoilers)

That was, without a doubt, the most confusing and big-budget episode of Magilla Gorilla I’ve ever seen.

And they changed Ogee’;s name to Jia. Probably to keep it “hip”



“Guns! Tanks! Bombs! They’re like toys against them!”

War of the Worlds (1953), after they drop an atomic bomb (from the Flying Wing) on the Martians, to no effect.

There’s at least one case where they do hurt the monster with standard firepower – and they find that they have to stop.

It’s the Original 1950s Monster Movie – the UR-50s Monster Flick, which wasn’t a cliche because it was the very first one. It invented the cliches*.

Ray Harryhausen’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

This movie preceded Them!. The original Gojira was admittedly made in imitation of this film.

And it asked and brilliantly answered the sensible objections to the 1950s monster film:

1.) Why would a creature – even a giant creature – want to go to a human city? Most animals avoid large concentrations of people. Answer: it was following an ancient breeding instinct, like salmon going back up the same river to spawn. New Yiork City just happened to be on its ancient spawning route.

2.) Why don’t they just shoot the Beast and get it over with?
Answer: They tried, giving it a big, bleeding throat wound. But it turned out that the dinosaur was infected with some prehistoric disease, which airborne and being spread by the huge puddles of the thing’s blood. It was already proving deadly to the troops fighting it. If they caused a bigger wound, or – worse – vaporized it, there’d be a LOT of blood droplets around. So they couldn’t shoot it, even though they could clearly hurt it.

In the end they shot it in the neck wound with a “bullet” made from a radioactive isotope, which somehow magically killed the deadly germs, as well as the Beast. But it also let them bookend the story with a neat bit of chiasmus – atomic science had revived the Beast by thawing it out of the ice and waking it up when an experimental atomic bomb went off in the Arctic (!!), and now it was killed and its threat neutralized by another product of atomic research. It was like that Disney short Our Friend the Atom (1957, four years later)

  • The cliches:
  • Monster created by or released by the atom bomb
  • Young Handsome Scientist and Beautiful Assistant become romantically involved and fight it
  • Nobody believes in the thing, at first
  • It resists all weapons used against it
  • It goes galumphing into a major city, destroying buildings and sending people in panic before it
  • They only have ONE SHOT to kill it
  • But it works. Yay!

These films often were used to introduce new special efects techniques. Or were quick rip-offs made with cheap monster suits.

There had been Monster On The Loose films before the 1950s (King Kong, the Lost World, etc., but they didn’t have these features

More recently, Pacific Rim, which of course was very deliberately playing with the standard kaiju tropes. In the backstory to the movie, the first several kaiju were killed by conventional military forces, but at horrendous cost, and not before they devastated several coastal cities and large swaths of territory inland. The Jaeger mech program was designed to go toe-to-toe with the kaiju before they destroyed the coastal city they were attacking. (Although in the movie we see a lot of collateral damage in the cities the Jaegers are defending, apparently it’s still less than the total destruction inflicted by the previous battles between conventional military forces and the kaiju).

also add:

The Beautiful Assistant in a an absurdly snug fitting outfit and wearing 6 inch stilettos sprains her ankle and is rescued by the Young Handsome Scientist.

But that has nothing to do with what kind of special effects are used. The scene in The Two Towers with Gollum arguing with himself is an absolute masterpiece, both of acting/writing and of effects. I think it’s more effective than it would be if it were stop motion, or guy-wearing-gollum-mask, or any other pre-CGI effect technique. Plenty of other scenes in blockbusters since then have had comparable (or better) effects but been worse scenes.

Movies with good scripts are good, regardless of the effects. Movies with bad scripts are bad, regardless of the effects. But certain stories can not be told well at all without good effects. And we’re reaching the point in technology where artists can tell whatever story they want, no longer limited by the restrictions of technology. We’re also still at the point in technology where less good filmmakers are having a great time (and making money) just putting amazing shit on screen.

But to pretend that if we went back to 1930s effects technology, movies would get better is just silly. Good movies with effects would get worse. Bad movies with effects would get worse. Movies with no effects at all would stay the same. And of course don’t forget all the hundreds of shitty movies that came out in the 1930s with what were, at the time, cutting edge effects; and which are now justifiably forgotten.

The actual science is 99.38% BS
Oops. Spoiler alert.

I went to a movie called Kong vs. Godzilla so what was I expecting? I was just looking for a relaxing time with no brain-power required and that’s exactly what I got.

I really should have thought to point all that out succinctly in the sentence before the one you quoted as I actually did.

Then it’s a good thing I didn’t do that.

You said: “To this day I prefer simple effects like that. It is much easier to suspend disbelief with a guy in a rubber suit playing Godzilla.”

Which is a position that I find baffling, assuming I understand what you’re saying: “I like movies more when they have more primitive (low tech) special effects”? Or maybe “I’m so damn good at spotting special effects that they NEVER fool me… in which case, don’t waste the effort, me and the filmmakers will agree that the guy with a very obvious rubber suit is godzilla, My disbelief is suspended, just tell me a good story”?

I mean, we both agree that if Godzilla vs Kong had had its current script and story but 1930s special effects it would be a much worse movie than the (mediocre but kinda fun) movie that it is, right?

You keep conveniently missing that part.

And what do you care what kind of special effects I prefer anyway? I made my opinion very clear. Watch whatever movies you like.

Done well they sure look more realistic to me.

Bad special effects can pull one out of even a good story (maybe not a great story though). Good effects can serve a good story well. They cannot replace the lack of a good story.

Clearly the good story, the characters we care about, have to come first. To my experience a show like WandaVision works because we care about the characters and, given that, works better with high production value special effects than it would with crappy cheap effects.

I certainly don’t. I haven’t seen the new movie yet, and may or may not get around to it. Godzilla v. King Kong done in stop motion? I’d have camped out for tickets.

(Which, in current circumstances, is indistinguishable from “falling asleep on my couch,” but you get my meaning.)

I really hate to be coming off as such a jackass here, but… really? You think that the best modern special effects movies of 2021 don’t look more “realistic” than the best special effects movies of 1933? Because that just seems utterly bonkers to me.

But now we’ve come full circle to what I was responding to initially. You’re acting as if a movie can either have good special effects OR good characters, but not both. And as if that is somehow uniquely a problem associated with modern cutting edge special effects. Neither of which, imho, is true.

If you set up a little 2x2 grid:

                                   Bad effects    Good effects



There are movies made today in all four quadrants. And there were movies made in 1933 in all four quadrants. So I just don’t see what 2021-effects-vs-1933-effects has to do with it.

I mean, why post on the SDMB if you don’t want people to respond to what you’re saying? Why enter this thread if you didn’t want people to respond? You’re the one who either honestly, literally believes that today’s fx are no more realistic than 1933 fx; or who enjoys playing a role somewhere in the luddite/provocateur area… which you aren’t doing to NOT get people talking.

(Taking a step back for a second, yes I’m sure there have been movie productions where so much attention was paid to the spectacle of the thing that the basic building blocks of storytelling suffered. I’m not trying to argue that that never happens. What I am saying is that (a) most such productions, I would wager, were never going to be any good to begin with… not like Michael Bay had a really fantastic deeply moving humanistic story for Transformers: Edge of Extinction but, gosh darn it, it just got away from him while he was working on the CGI; and (b) that sort of conflict could happen whether the spectacle of the thing is 2021-cutting-edge-special-effects vs stop motion vs green screen vs anything else. The fact that the makers of the 1933 King Kong managed to have the best of both worlds is a credit to them. It’s an example of the rare movie throughout the ages which have managed to have it all; and rare movies continue to do so today.)

That is something you constructed in your own mind. I said no such thing, made no such exclusions. I said what I prefer, that’s what I prefer and I don’t care if you like it or not.

You said what you prefer, but you also said that the best modern CGI is no more realistic than the 1930’s special effects.

I think lost in this argument is that both sides have good points. The tools being used don’t matter as much to the final product as the skill of the craftsman does. It’s all about suspension of disbelief-- whether it’s stop-motion in the original King Kong or state-of-the-art CG in G V K, we know it’s not real. What engages us is the skill in telling the story. In that sense I would agree that the original King Kong is the far better movie.

Computer graphics are very effective when used well. The problem is that they’re often just a lot of frosting on a badly-made cake. The special effects in those superhero movies are exhausting-- I can barely watch them. Spielberg, on the other hand, was very effective using a mix of practical effects and very early CG in Jurassic Park. But when CG is bad, it can be very very bad.

Whether it’s stop motion or CGI, an artist (or motion capture actor) still has to create the cues that express (mute) Kong’s emotive range. IMO, the sculptors who worked on the 1933 film did that best.

Kong always flings his poop before you can get a chance to quantify it.

In no King Kong film I’m aware of, authorized or unauthorized, does he fling poop.

On the other hand, in the original 1949 film Mighty Joe Young, that titular giant gorilla apparent flicks a booger at his pursuers during the chase scene near the end.

Just like the giant spiders, they cut out the scene where he brings down a biplane with well aimed feces.