Long Live the King

GodzillaKingWhile watching the movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters, one question kept popping into my head: Where was Kong? Surely, he must have heard the rumble of Monster Zero or the bio-sonar signal from Fenway Park. Every time Ghidorah flapped his wings and every time Godzilla retreated to the bottom of the ocean, the giant ape from Skull Island was conspicuous in his absence.

To his credit, author Greg Keyes attempts to answer my question in the movie’s accompanying novelization. According to him, Kong did, in fact, hear the call of Ghidorah. It made him restless and it made him a little angry, but he chose to ignore it nonetheless. Let all the monsters destroy themselves, he figured. He was a solitary fellow and he wanted to be left alone. Moviegoers and G-fans know that’ll change, however. To be continued in Godzilla vs. Kong, coming to theaters in 2020.

Without a doubt there’s a giant gorilla-sized hole in the latest Godzilla movie. But what can you do? Everybody knows that the thunderous battles featuring Mothra (“the queen of the monsters”), Rodan (“Satan himself could not be as terrible“) and Monster Zero (“the one who is many“) are just an amuse-bouche for the inevitable Godzilla/King Kong “Monsterverse” main course.

Like every author who’s ever written a film novelization, Keyes can’t be criticized for a movie’s screenwriting shortcomings. But there are always opportunities for writers to add context, explore motivation, insert transitions and sneak bonus material into their manuscripts. Keyes dutifully does all of this. He even gets inside Godzilla’s head.

His depiction of Dr. Emma Russell is probably the best thing about the book. She’s wholly unlikeable in the movie (despite her endgame redemption). But in prose, she’s a complicated character saddled with a God-like burden. Her goal is to kick start Earth 2.0, but she screws up big time and becomes a mass-murderer on a global scale. “She didn’t hit the reset button,” writes Keyes, “she hit the detonator instead.” Like all great villains, such as Dr. Doom and Magneto, Dr. Russell thinks she’s the hero of her own story.

Nobody can control nature, not even a smarty-pants paleontologist with a God complex. Trilobites, synapsids, the dinosaurs, brontotherium, the woolly mammoth, Hedorah, Destroyah, Baragon and Fin Fang Foom—all of them have come and gone. After all this time, the only one remaining is Godzilla. Long live the king.

[Godzilla: King of the Monsters / By Greg Keyes / First Printing: May 2019 / ISBN: 9781789090925]