Godzilla Minus One standing in city

Godzilla x Kong Is the Opposite of Godzilla Minus One – And There’s Room for Both

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Godzilla Minus One.

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We are in prime Godzilla right now. With the release of Godzilla Minus One last year and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire recently, it has never been easier to get your cinematic Godzilla fix and get it however you like it. However, when examining the discourse between these two films as comparisons crop up, there is a painful habit of dismissing Godzilla x Kong in a manner that suggests it just should have never been made because the Oscar-winning Godzilla Minus One is clearly the superior film, which, sure, it is. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room in our infinite universe to have both versions of Godzilla storming across our big screens.

See, the two films may both star the nuclear-radiated, city-destroying lizard, but they could not be more different from each other. They are each other’s antithesis. They are hot and cold, big and small, Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, matter and anti-matter. If they touched each other, the universe would explode from the connection. One is a massive Hollywood action blockbuster with multiple kaiju, a cinematic universe behind it, and features Godzilla as the hero. The other is a smaller standalone Japanese movie with a drastically smaller budget, only one monster, and Godzilla as the villain. It is, in fact, probably easier to list the similarities between these two films than the differences. I’ll take a stab at it: Godzilla. Godzilla is the only thing that ties these two films together, and even he isn’t the same in the movies.

Pink Godzilla powers up in Godzilla x Kong trailer.

It would be nearly impossible to argue that Godzilla x Kong is a better film than Godzilla Minus One. The latter film is a masterwork in turning a kaiju movie into something more. That something more is both emotional and metaphorical, which is exactly what birthed the genre in the first place. The film takes Godzilla and places him in the center of a powerhouse, post-WWII story about PTSD, family, and the struggle of a nation to recover after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It not only uses Godzilla as a metaphor for all of this but spends the majority of the film focusing on its human characters and their struggles.

Compared to Godzilla x Kong, Minus One is Shakespeare. The former film and its franchise basically gave up on the human side of its story, creating a film that is nearly all kaiju fights, kaiju powering up for fights, and King Kong befriending a baby Kong. The human side of the story is laughably underbaked and transitions into campy territory after the film’s first few lines. There is no attempt at something more here, and the filmmakers know that that isn’t what they’re going for. It’s an intentional move that pivots the film into something that’s just supposed to be big and fun to watch.

Godzilla swinging his tail in Godzilla Minus One.

Godzilla Minus One is also a special effects master class despite being made on a much smaller budget than Godzilla x Kong. That’s not to say that Godzilla x Kong‘s admittedly fantastic CGI work is subpar, but there is something more authentic about the work done in Minus One that turns Godzilla into a truly terrifying creature. Where the American film feels like you’re watching a cartoon, the Japanese one turns it into a real-world horror. One movie uses special effects to back up its story, while the other movie uses special effects.

Related: How to Watch All the MonsterVerse Movies In Order

Here’s the thing, though. Despite all these facts that make one movie appear better than the other, that doesn’t make Godzilla x Kong‘s outlandish take on Godzilla (and the rest of the kaiju in the film) something that isn’t worth making and enjoying. There is room in the Godzilla fandom for both styles of Godzilla. In fact, kaiju movies are better off for having both Oscar-worthy projects and fun movies with stupidly big budgets. It is okay to enjoy both checking out and checking in. In fact, the very idea of two movies with entirely different ideas of what a Godzilla film should be releasing within a few months of each other on big screens in America should be celebrated, not debated.

Godzilla and Kong yelling in Godzilla x Kong; The New Empire.

This isn’t to defend bad Godzilla movies – there are plenty of those. We all had to sit through Godzilla vs. Kong, which failed to be fun or interesting. This is to defend dumb fun when it is actually fun, and that’s what Godzilla x Kong is. You can enjoy and appreciate the pure cinematic genius of Godzilla Minus One and still sit on the edge of your seat while Godzilla and King Kong duke it out in zero gravity with a collection of other kaiju. Heck, one could even argue that given the fact that Godzilla spends most of Godzilla x Kong pulling a Goku and powering up, it’s more a King Kong film anyway, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a blast to watch. The existence of great Godzilla does not necessitate the erasure of fun, campy Godzilla.

If box office returns are any indication, audiences seem to accept this. Godzilla Minus One was the biggest box office for a Japanese film in America ever, and the opening weekend returns of Godzilla x Kong are above expectations. Clearly, there is enough audience out there for Godzilla to succeed as both high-minded monster fare and dumb action fodder. The world is better off with more Godzilla options, not less, even when one is not as good as the other.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is in theaters now.


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Author
Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is a News Writer and film aficionado at Escapist. He has been writing for Escapist for nearly five years and has nearly 20 years of experience reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and video games for both print and online outlets. He has a degree in Film from Vassar College and a degree in gaming from growing up in the '80s and '90s. He runs the website Flixist.com and has written for The Washington Post, Destructoid, MTV, and more. He will gladly talk your ear off about horror, Marvel, Stallone, James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.