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“Godzilla vs. Kong” Review: A fun return to theaters

Warning: There will be some monster-sized spoilers in this review

Prior to COVID-19, I was at the movie theater every other week. It was my home away from home. When theaters started to reopen after the lockdowns, I still avoided them because, even though I loved visiting them, they never seemed like the most sanitary place. 

Upon receiving my vaccine, I knew the return to theaters was imminent. I needed a movie that would warrant a grand return, and a film that reminded me of what made the theater experience so enjoyable. “Godzilla vs. Kong” delivers that feeling.

In a world full of gargantuan creatures known as Titans, Godzilla reigns as the king of monsters. However, a new challenger approaches in the giant ape known as Kong, who has lived isolated in a research facility on Skull Island. When a group of scientists launch an expedition to the home of the Titans, they set off a chain of events that pits Kong against the mighty Godzilla.

The filmmakers knew why audiences were anticipating this movie. Moviegoers were not looking for a film about the deeper meaning of the universe or some life-changing story. People were there to see an oversized gorilla slug it out against a giant lizard.

The film absolutely fulfills its promise of epic monster mayhem.

When the two titans clash, the film is at its best. Kong and Godzilla do not just hurl punches at one another, but they have tactics as they fight. Director Adam Wingard and crew choreograph epic battles that showcase the strengths of each creature. Godzilla utilizes brute force, while Kong uses his agility and speed to his advantage. The end result culminates in some intense, pulse-pounding skirmishes that deliver on what people came to see. 

“Godzilla vs. Kong” knows how to have fun. It is a film where you turn your brain off for two hours and enjoy the ride. That kind of experience does not appeal to everyone, but it works for me. Kong resetting his dislocated shoulder by slamming it into the side of the building is one of the ridiculously fun highlights that makes this movie an amusing experience.

Out of the two behemoths, Kong has more development. He is the underdog going into this fight, especially after seeing Godzilla disintegrate a three-headed dragon with nuclear radiation in 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Kong embarks on a journey with the human characters to the birthplace of the Titans and receives a much-needed upgrade in the form of a massive energy-absorbing ax. 

Along the way, the movie explores the relationship between Kong and a Skull Island native girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle). Jia communicates with Kong through sign language, learning he longs to return home. Their relationship delivers some touching moments and brings some life to the CGI ape.

However, the film cannot be two hours of monster fights. This is where “Godzilla vs. Kong” falters a bit. It has an abundance of flat, one-dimensional human characters to carry the film’s duller moments. 

This is a problem that has plagued all “Monsterverse” films. Aside from “Kong: Skull Island,” which contained a few interesting human characters, the humans are pretty much there to comment on the monster fight or give some evil monologue. 

The actors all give fine performances. Bryan Tyree Henry’s paranoid podcasting character stands out in particular. He adds some much-needed comic relief and personality to the human scenes. 

In short, “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeds on all fronts to make an enjoyable blockbuster worthy of a return to the big screen.

cbskbf@mail.umkc.edu

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