Nazarenes weren't allowed to go to movies, but my Cousin Buster's parents were either unaware of the rule or didn't care, so occasionally -- very occasionally -- they took us to a drive-in double-feature. The first movie began around 9:00 pm, my bedtime. By the time the second movie started, I was mostly asleep, rousing for disjoint images of cute guys or dinosaurs or scientists discussing "Frankenstein's brain," but never seeing enough to piece together a comprehensible plot.
I felt the same way last night, when we were watching Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). Although I didn't actually fall asleep, I could not piece together a plot from the disparate images, Godzilla smashing a city brightly lit with candy colors, King Kong fighting a giant pteradactyl with a aircraft carrier as a club, a scientist sittng inside a giant monster skull which he is using to control Godzilla? Or not?
Here's what I managed to figure out:
1. The Titans, giant monsters from 1960s Japanese movies, occasionally emerge from their habitat in the center of the Earth. They stomp on cities only when they feel threatened; otherwise they are just cuddly teddy bears, eager to befriend the small child of any scientist studying them. There are Titan Studies institutes, conferences, and high school classes.
2. The giant lizard Godzilla, who was previously benign, has gone on a rampage for some reason, shooting energy blasts and roaring.
3. King Kong is being held captive in a giant cybernetic habitat, where he learns sign language from the deaf daughter of the Lady Scientist studying him, but doesn't let anyone else know that he is intelligent. He's the only one who can fight Godzilla, so they tranquilize him, chain him to an aircraft carrier, and set out for Godzilla's last rampage-site.
4. Meanwhile, Evil Corporate Guy hires a laid-back Indiana Jones type played by Alexander Skarsgard (top photo) to go to the Center of the Earth to see if he can tap the source of the Titans' power or something.
5. Indiana Jones teams up with a Hot Japanese Scientist (Shun Oguri), so I'm thinking "Oh boy, gay subtext!", but Hot Japanese Scientist stays home to be attached to wires inside a giant monster head. Instead, Indiana Jones for some reason hooks up with the King Kong crew, where he meets two love interests: Lady Scientist, with whom he apparently has a romantic history (broken up so they can get back together again?), and Hot Babe: her boobs enter the room five seconds before the rest of her. Indiana Jones stares at them in utter shock (although, to be fair, that's the only facial expression he has). The eternal conundrum in heterosexual movies: wholesome girl-next-door or slinky seductress?
6.. Indiana Jones and company somehow end up at the Center of the Earth, where there are a lot of nice visuals, and King Kong turns out to be the king of a lost civilization of 100-foot tall primates. He retrieves a computerized scepter, which he can use to fight Godzilla, I guess.
7. Meanwhile a Hunky Dad (Kyle Chandler) with a dead wife is running a Titan Studies Institute or something, which Godzilla eats, so he switches to running a refugee camp. He tells his teenage daughter not to get involved, but she has important information or something, so she gets her Chubby Kiwi Friend (Julian Dennison) to borrow his older brother's van, and they set out. The two do not express any romantic interest in each other, so they're open for a gay reading.
8. They hook up with Comic Relief Black Guy (Brian Tyree Henry), who runs a clandestine podcast with weird conspiracy theories about the Titans (which turn out to be true). He gathers intel by flirtimg with a guy at a facility, so he will leave his computer unattended. I'm thinking "Oh, boy, gay subtext!", but the minute Teenage Daughter and Chubby Friend appear, he goes on and on about his dead wife, thus identifying as heterosexual.
9. Teenagers and adults don't usually have gay subtexts; their bond become paternal rather than romantic. But maybe comic relief characters will be different. Besides, I need something to do to overcome the boredom. So I look for gay subtexts between Comic Relief Black Guy and Chubby Friend, as they set out on whatever their mission is. There's a bit of grabbing and arm-holding in the face of danger, but nothing comes of it.
I couldn't find any evidence that actor Julian Dennison is gay in real life, but then, I couldn't find any evidence that he's straight, either.
10. Comic Relief Black Guy and his friends get a standard evil-scheme explanation from Evil Corporate Guy. It's mostly gibberish, something about making humans Alphas again. But things go wrong: the Japanese Guy in the giant monster head gets fried, and Evil Corporate Guy either gets eaten by a robot monster or exploded. But Comic Relief Black Guy and friends are fine.
11. The subplot over, King Kong uses his computerized scepter to defeat Godzilla, and then dies, but comes back to life or something. Then Hunky Dad finds his daughter amid a crowd of people. They hug. Chubby Friend introduces himself without hugging, and Comic Relief Black Guy asks to interview him for his podcast.
12. Indiana Jones and Lady Scientist (plus the deaf daughter) hang out with King Kong (you knew he would choose Betty over Veronca, didn't you?). They are obviously a romantic couple, but they don't kiss. A refreshing change of pace.
Heterosexism: Lots of dead wives.
Gay Characters: Teenage Daughter and Chubby Friend can be read as gay, just because they are obviously not into each other.
Confusing Plotlines: 3, maybe more.
Stunning Visuals: A few.
My Grade: D