Even though I’ve received my first vaccine dose, and the flowers are out, and school is (sorta) back in session, I’m still mostly stuck at home. That means my nightly battle is between watching something I suspect will be good but also emotionally draining, staring listlessly at something mindlessly terrible, and eating a whole bag of flour.
And we’re out of flour.
I did, in installments, suffer through Godzilla vs. Kong. It is a reprehensible film. Everyone involved in making it—and perhaps even those involved in watching it, including myself—deserves to be stabbed in the taint with a pair of child-safe scissors. I literally have nothing good to say about it. Not a single thing. I am hard pressed to identify its worst part, as the competition is kaiju-fierce between the script, the performances, the direction, and the fact that I watched it all.
Speaking as a devoted fan of The Core and Deep Blue Sea, and one who enjoyed himself well enough watch Kong: Skull Island, this film is utter pants. It is a film that has been strip-mined for stupid. Even listing a smattering of the terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible components of Godzilla vs. Kong is a depressing idea. Here is one, though, to give you a sense of what the filmmakers thought wise.
Having dragooned an orphaned toddler and a mountain-sized ape into an incomprensible mission to the center of the Earth to find a magical power source in a mystery-land populated by horrific mega-monsters, a scientist—a scientist!—looks around and says without a smidgeon of irony or self-awareness…
Then they proceed to find the gorilla castle and the ultra-power axe that, clearly, Kong has been desperately needing for most of the past century, without a single further comment on where/how they are or the fact that all of human existence and culture has now been thrown into the shredder.
Please bend over, as I’m going to stab you in the taint.
On the other hand, there’s also Josh Boone’s The New Mutants, a production of fabled difficulty. I selected this over a bag of flour because a) we were out of flour and b) as a pre-teen, I was just the right age to collect The New Mutants comics from their first issue. These are characters I have nostalgia for and knowledge of and we were out of flour and my wife had a migraine and I’m lazy.
What’s most remarkable about the film is that—despite its reputation—it’s not half as terrible as Godzilla vs. Kong. Yes, the acting is abysmal, the casting is highly suspect, and many creative decisions vastly perplexing. And it is not, really by any measure, good. And yet, there were moments to relax into, glass of rye in hand, in which one could shrug and go, “whatever.”
Anna Taylor Joy does what she can as a psychotic demon witch who goes nowhere without a purple dragon puppet. Maisie Williams captures some of the angst one might feel if one were a teenage lesbian werewolf. Others are less forgivable. Charlie Heaton looks like a pedophile trying to pass himself off as a high school student, but for this I doubt he can shoulder full blame. Blu Hunt, who plays the protagonist Danielle Moonstar, is just wrong.
This doesn’t help the film any.
I suppose one might appreciate The New Mutants for not following the Marvel playbook. It is not generically bland and strategically inoffensive. It’s creatively bland and strategically confusing. It’s generically silly and haphazardly inoffensive. On a conceptual level, the story hangs together, even if individual scenes land like the sections of a 747 following an air disaster. It felt like any number of forgettable 1980s teen horror films that never got scary.
I turned it on, expecting to shut it off after 20 minutes, and then watched the whole thing without looking at my phone once. That is what we, during the pandemic, call a rave review.