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Godzilla, King Kong and our smallness against the vastness of the universe

Godzilla, King Kong and our smallness against the vastness of the universe

When "Godzilla" dropped in 2014, one of the primary complaints turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the film. The humans didn't matter enough; at least not in the face of the titular monster, nor compared to the mountains of destruction the kaiju did. 

Sign me up, I said. What "Godzilla" does so well is show us how little we matter in the grand scheme of the universe. Humans have been around for a short period of time compared to the never ending stream of nature (hint: that's the theme of the film, and it's rather explicitly stated) so when humans become a sidebar in the third act of the film, well... that's the point.

"Kong: Skull Island" begins what will eventually become an expanded universe between the two monsters and, based on the tone of the trailers, it'll have a similar (if lighter) theme. This isn't new to the Kong franchise. Hell, the 2014 version of the King of the Monsters wasn't exactly treading new ground. 

These films scratch an itch for someone who often watches action movies where humanity all too easily tackles nature. It just doesn't work like that in the real world. I know, I know; I can hear you: that's the fucking point you idiot. That's fine!

Here's the thing: every once in a very great while it's refreshing to watch a film where humans are painted the way we truly are: as powerless as a sailboat in a hurricane. We can no more influence our lives than we can push a boat past a tsunami. There's something peaceful about Gareth Edward's "Godzilla" while many other action films choose chaos. I like that.

When the human protagonist of "Godzilla," a character played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson who I can guarantee you don't recall the name of, goes after the titular monster, nothing happens. He gets the best seat in the house for the fight the entire film has been building towards. Because in the end, that's the film's take on humanity: we're just along for the ride. 

Many see that as cynicism; I see it as enlightenment. That's not to say there's no value in doing good or in doing the right thing. Frankly, I see it as the opposite. Those who choose to do good because they're chasing divine reward or a pat on the back are the most cynical amongst us. It's those who know helping others won't change their fate, and still do it, that most embrace true optimism. 

Your mileage may vary. 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Logan (2017)

Logan (2017)