Apr 1, 2021

Rick G Reviews: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)


I've been waiting for this movie for some time, the likely conclusion (albeit not set in stone) of Legendary's Monsterverse, first established with 2014's Godzilla, which, of course, served to wash away the bad taste left by Tristar's 1997 abomination.

That all said, let's leave a bit of courtesy spoiler space for anyone stumbling upon this and not wanting to know what's to come.







Good enough!  

We'll start with the bad, get that shit out of the way early so we can move onto the good stuff. 

It must be said that this movie borrows heavily from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in one major - and annoying as fuck - aspect. This is a move that's tightly edited and relatively low on fluff. That's good except for one problem - it could use a good half hour of exposition to explain the stuff that happens.  This strikes me as yet another movie where the big "What The Hell?" moments will likely be explained in the novelization ... which is a crappy thing to do for those of us who don't want to read it.

In the author world, they constantly beat us over the head with "Show, don't tell".  Well, that doesn't mean you can't tell at all. In fact sometimes you HAVE TO, especially when it comes to major plot points we're expected to just accept like:

- Kong finding a giant radioactive glowing axe?

I mean seriously, it's the movie's MacGuffin, yet none of the scientists present barely bat at an eye at it. I mean, I'm no primatologist, but I'd like to think I'd be all, "Whoa?! Where the fuck did that come from?  Were Kong's ancestors building fucking superweapons or something???"

But nope. It's there and we're just supposed to roll with it. 

Another issue is that it's been 5 years since Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  Much like it was 5 yrs between that movie and Godzilla. In that time, humanity has made almost ridiculous strides in their technology.  I mean, a running theme in the movie is finding a new power source to use against the Titans ... while at the same time ignoring that the world apparently has power aplenty to run an island-sized biodome for Kong, build a magnetic transport between Florida and Hong Kong, create anti-gravity engines, and design a Pacific-Rim-esque Mechagodzilla complete with neural / psionic interface. And that's not even counting the stuff from the previous movie like Castle Bravo (which gets zero mention in this one, much like a lot of the stuff from the previous movie).

Speaking of all that, how the fuck much money does Apex have to be able to do all the shit they do??? We're talking a market cap here bigger than Google, Apple, and Amazon combined, especially since here in the real world we can't even get a fucking hyperloop around Las Vegas. This is one case where it would have probably made a LOT more sense to simply make the US Military the aggressors, being they developed the Oxygen Destroyer in the last movie - rather than a shady company with unlimited funds and not a single whistleblower among them.

But okay, this is a Godzilla movie. I guess I can forgive that since it's really not much different than the Japanese Defense Force having maser cannons in 1960 via the ToHo films. Whatever.

That said, what I have a harder time forgiving is Monarch and, more specifically, Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler).  While the star of G:KoTM, here he's given about ten minutes of screen time, but damn, during those ten minutes he shows he's lost about 50 IQ points.  His daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) figures out the whole plot in the first 20 minutes.  And what she comes up with makes perfect sense considering what we've learned about Titans in the last 2 movies. But, rather than give her the time of day and realize that yes Godzilla is acting out of character, he instead falls back on, "Godzilla's just mean now. Deal with it!"

Those are my big problems with the movie. In short, it does NOT hold up well if you sit back and think about it. However, in this it shares head space with Jurassic World in that, yes it falls apart the moment you spend 30 seconds mulling it over, BUT you're probably having too much fun to care. 

And that's where the movie shines. It's big, it's loud, it's colorful, and it's a lot of fun.  At no point does it really take itself too seriously.  And the monster battles are pretty damned awesome. No doubt about it. 

The basic plot is that Monarch has built a giant Pauly Shore-esque biodome around Skull Island to both study and protect Kong.  They know that Kong is another alpha titan and with Godzilla as the reigning alpha that shit won't stand. However, they also realize that Kong is a bit of a drunken frat boy. He thinks he's tougher than he is.  So the biodome is to keep Godzilla from showing up and wrecking Kong's shit because .... um ... I have no idea why. I guess the world really likes giant monkeys or something. 

Whatever the case, big bad Apex corp wants to reach the hollow earth ... the thing they were supposed to be able to get to via Skull Island as per the last movie, but which is conveniently forgotten in lieu of a magic space tunnel in Antarctica. They're doing stuff which is pissing off Godzilla and causing him to attack - which only Madison, her friend Fire Fist from Deadpool 2, and a paranoid conspiracy blogger (Brian Tyree Henry) figure out. Apex wants an energy source from the hollow earth so ... they can piss off Godzilla even more so. 

Godzilla in the meanwhile, intercepts the ship carrying Kong and proves what a bad idea it is for Kong to fight him in the water - beating the crap out of and almost drowning him. 

Kong survives and eventually makes it to the hollow earth, where he finds the above-mentioned giant axe.  In the meantime, the evil Apex corp are using Skullcrawlers to test out the thing that's been setting Godzilla off - Mechagodzilla. And this Mechagodzilla is badass. It's wired to the skull of the dead Ghidorah and has been designed to compensate for Godzilla's main weakness - by having huge chiseled arms that can punch the shit out him.

Godzilla shows up again, still pissed off, and somehow blasts a hole through the streets of Hong Kong down into the hollow earth where Kong is chilling with his magic axe. Yes, he somehow blows a hole through several hundred miles of rock right to where Kong is. And no, I'm not questioning it.

Either way, Kong climbs out with his axe and they have their big showdown. Kong gets the upper hand, delivering a massive blow to Godzilla's head which ... he then shrugs off, gets up, and utter beats the shit out of Kong. 

That's it folks. There's your winner: Godzilla.  No doubt about it. Even with his magic axe made from a Godzilla fin (assumed, since it's never actually mentioned), Kong gets utterly crushed. This is probably why he didn't make a cameo in G:KoTM. Ghidorah would have fucked up his shit two ways to Sunday.

Too bad it's not over, as Ghidorah's skull then pulls a Megatron from Transformers Age of Extinction and takes over Mechagodzilla (again assumed, since nobody barely blinks when it takes on a life all its own). Mechagodzilla proceeds to wreck Godzilla - pretty much using his face as a battering ram throughout all of Hong Kong. 

However, then Kong gets back in the game, retrieves his axe, and he and Godzilla team up to take the robot down once and for all - proving the power of friendship is the best power of all ... I guess.

Godzilla and Kong have a stare down, but then Godzilla turns and heads back out to sea.  We cut to Kong, back in the hollow earth, having decided that's his new home and ... that's it.  The END. It's kind of an abrupt ending to things - again suffering from the fact that the movie could've used a bit more fleshing out and exposition. 

That all said, it's a wild, batshit, and ultimately fun ride. The monsters are the stars of this show and they very much deliver.  It's pure joy whenever we cut from the human drama to something big smashing something. 

Again, though, if you stop to think about it, it falls apart pretty quickly. 

Because of that, I'm forced to rank it 3rd in the Monsterverse movies. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, then Kong: Skull Island, followed by Godzilla vs. Kong, and finally the 2014 Godzilla (which ultimately suffered from being kinda dull).  

Don't get me wrong. Godzilla vs Kong is lots of fun. A definite popcorn movie for those looking for a good way to kill an evening.  I am certainly going to watch it again.  Just be sure to nod, go along with the ride, and try not to think too hard while you're in the middle of it all. 

You'll be that much happier for it.

Mar 1, 2021

The Top Ten Vampire Books You MUST Read Before You Die

Let's face facts, vampires are everywhere in the book world. They're in Urban Fantasy, Horror, Comedy, Horror Comedy, Romance, Thrillers, Suspense, Young Adult, and all sorts of other genres that make great search engine keywords for articles like this.

As such, people often ask, "Rick, as a vampire author" what are the top vampire novels you think I should read before I pass from this mortal coil?"  

It's a great and terrible burden to have foisted upon one's back, but one I am happy to shoulder. Because the truth, dear reader, is that not all vampire books are created equal.

Thus, I present to you, the top ten vampire books you need to read before you die. 


Well, yeah, I suppose I may have written this one. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read it. What? You're the one who asked me? I'm just giving you my unbiased opinion on the subject.

No, I'm not being a self-indulgent clickbait writing prick by suggesting it. Well, okay, I might be, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, yes, you should definitely read Bill The Vampire (The Tome of Bill -1), if only to find out why "There are reasons we fear the night, he's not one of them."

Full of nerdy humor and pop culture awesomeness, it is the quintessential vampire comedy book, mostly because I said it is.


Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but hear me out. It would be the height of dickishness for me to tell you how awesome Bill the Vampire is without also mentioning its sequel.

What kind of host would I be if I did that? 

Scary Dead Things is my number 2 pick to read before you die, because it's funny as fuck. Bill Ryder is back, running like hell from the "love" of his life - an immortal princess stuck in a child's body. 

If that doesn't scream vampire classic, then I honestly don't know what will make you people happy.


Okay, I sort of get what you're saying. But before you accuse me of writing an entire article devoted to jacking off my own ego, hear me out.

Vampires vs. Sasquatch!

Seriously, how fucking cool is that? I mean, that alone should propel it to anyone's top three. Hell, if you don't love that concept, all I can say is begone because you obviously have no soul to speak of. 

This book has it all, chills, thrills, laughs, gore, and did I mention vampires fighting Bigfoot?  Because it has that, too. Now shut up and go read it.


Why is The Wicked Dead (Tome of Bill 7) here? You mean besides being awesome as shit? Well, it's simple. It's penultimate book in the Tome of Bill series. I mean, heck, I can't just send you straight to the finale without setting it up.

That would be seriously uncool.

Oh, yeah, it was also written by an awesome author .... me! And I say that with complete humility.

The end of the world has never been so much fun. Don't believe me? Read it and prove me wrong. I dare you!

This is it!  The final chapter in the saga of Bill Ryder ... until the next chapter anyway.  But seriously, the finale of the Tome of Bill series has it all. 

You've seen other book series finales, right? You know they suck. Characters dying who should have lived, other characters doing dumb shit, and people being introduced just they can steal away other people from the characters they're supposed to fall in love with.

Fuck that noise. 

This is the series sequel you need. It even has a final chapter called "The Hate Mail Inducing Epilogue" because, damn it, I came prepared.


Did I say that last book was the final story of Bill Ryder? Huh. I must've been mistaken.  This little ditty here - A Higher Calling (Bill of the Dead 0.5) serves as a bridge between The Tome of Bill and Bill of the Dead series.

So why is it here? Because it's wonderful, duh!  It's also FREE, as in beer. 

All you gotta do is sign up for a certain author's mailing list, and this little beauty is all yours. Go on, click the title. You know you want to.

Not only is it one of the top ten vampires books you MUST read before you die, but it doesn't cost you a dime. You're welcome.


The true horror of a series ending is it leaving you wanting more. Fortunately some authors (like me) are listening to your pleas of, "We need more Bill!!!"

Introducing Strange Days (Bill of the Dead 1). It's 5 years since the Tome of Bill ended, and shit is about to get surreal again. 

And yes, it is worthy of both the Tome of Bill name and being on this official list. And I say this being 100% objective on the matter. Seriously, if another book deserved to be in this spot, it would be ... but it doesn't, because it probably sucks - which is great if you're a vampire, but less great if you're reading about them.


Once again, I'd be remiss to talk about the first book in a series without mentioning the kick-ass followup to it. 

Everyday Horrors is book 2 of Bill of the Dead. And it deserves its spot on this list for the character of Glen alone. Seriously? It's damned near impossible to read about that creepy little eyeball blob without falling in love with it.

Of course he's not a vampire, but fortunately there are still plenty of those here too, which makes this book eligible to be on this list.

Hell, you've made it this far. Why start turning your nose up now?

Okay, enough! I heard you. I'm being 100% fair in my choices here and to prove it, here's Second String Savior (False Icons 1) - written by someone else - R.E. Carr (and also co-written by me).

Err ... anyway. 

This spinoff to the Tome of Bill series, focuses on the exploits of a wannabe vampire slayer / superhero. Yeah, yeah, I know. But you can't have a vampire slayer without vampires ... duh!

It's also a wonderfully written coming of age story ... with a high body count. Because, well, what else do you really want from the teenage years?


Finally, we round out this list with Bottom Feeders, which is book 1 of the Bill of the Dead Adventures novella series. 

Amazing isn't it? But what I can I say? If those other vampire writers really wanted to make it to this list, well, they'd have seriously upped their game. 

Don't look at me. This is entirely their own fault.

As for this fun tale, once again we step into the shoes of a legendary vampire slayer ... just one who's maybe a bit stupider than the job really calls for. 

Will they survive? There's only one way to find out....

And that brings us to the end of our list. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together. If so, all my painstaking research and effort wasn't for naught. 

And don't worry. Plenty of other vampire novels came close to making it ... even including a few I didn't write. But, well, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Go figure. Better luck next time, fellas! 

Until then ... go and grab you some vampire books!