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“Godzilla vs. Kong” showcases feel-good fisticuffs extravaganza between legendary rivals

Wildly fun finale to MonsterVerse series offers audiences long-awaited visual spectacle

As the fourth installment in Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse franchise — a shared cinematic universe which began with the 2014 “Godzilla” — “Godzilla vs. Kong” is an incredibly fun watch. The film, released March 31, balances exhilarating ape-lizard fight scenes with just the right smidge of human acting to provide some comic relief and emotional anchor. 

While this film may or may not ferment the rise of persistent “hollow-Earthers,” it strikes a well-crafted balance between the human cast and their monster counterparts, a feat hardly achieved by its predecessors. 

Seeking to uncover why Godzilla is rampaging against human civilization, Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) and Josh (Julian Dennison) embark on a spontaneous break-in at Apex Cybernetics, the sinister tech corporation bent on creating the ultimate weapon against Godzilla. 

Though the trio’s side of the story is fairly conventional, Henry, as the controversy-spitting podcaster, is unfailingly amusing (the moment his ravings get a little tedious, peril is sent their way); not to mention the brief appearance of comedian Ronny Chieng as a store clerk, a delightful surprise made all the more hilarious by his acting more disgruntled than ever. From the group’s purview, the audience learns what Apex is really cooking up in its sub-level laboratories. 

On the other side of the film’s narrative, the human cast includes a crew of scientists supervised by Apex, who enter Earth’s apparently hollow core. The film adds a subtle emotional touch through Kong’s bond with Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a deaf orphan girl taken under the wing of Rebecca Hall’s “Kong-Whisperer” Dr. Ilene. 

Nine-year-old Hottle, who is herself part of the deaf community, shines in her feature film debut. Sharply contrasting with Kong’s thunderous roars and boisterous chest-thumping, the captivating moments between Kong and Jia are quieted down and filled with a pensive silence that reflects her perspective. In the muffled stillness of one scene, the gargantuan primate reaches down and gently meets his minuscule friend’s extended hand, a gesture of sincere and empathetic connection. 

The film slows down briefly yet effectively to endow both beast and man emotional depth, and it doesn’t hesitate to go over the top with its spectacle, which is precisely what a film named “Godzilla vs. Kong” is, at its core, intended to do. 

Avoiding the flaws of previous films in the series, the film’s director Adam Wingard shows both the lizard and the ape in their full glory, dazzling the audiences with hyper-realistic special effects. Gone are the fierce storms and swirling debris that frustratingly obscured the battles between Ghidora and the rest of the titans in the 2019 “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” This time around, the fight choreography is cogent and striking, spanning from urban Hong Kong skyscapes to the central Pacific. 

At nearly two hours long, the film is excellently well-paced. There may be a few meandering plot strands regarding the human cast, but latitude can be willingly offered at those points, as the two human teams have to end up where they are in order to round out essential story progression. 

“Godzilla vs. Kong” may not be original with its filmic elements — think urban destruction amid splurges of neon in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” blended with an inadvertent discovery of both a royal lineage and the ultimate weapon (which is a skyscraper-sized hammer that charges itself via atomic blasts!) in the likes of James Wan’s “Aquaman.” 

But when a film combines all these elements and tops them off with 300 foot monsters going at each other, it’s a crowd-pleasing blockbuster that simply can’t go wrong. In short, in the stifled pandemic world, it’s an escapist extravaganza worth your time. 



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