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'Godzilla vs. Kong' lowers the boom with monster-mash thrills

Phil on Film
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Posted at 10:59 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 13:59:35-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — You've got to hand it to director Adam Wingard. It must have been tough to deal with such demanding lead actors as King Kong and Godzilla. No doubt they bickered over who would get top billing and more close-ups. At least they managed to share the same catch-phrase: "RAAAAAAAR!!!"

Wingard has a history of dealing with divas, having worked with that notoriously inconsistent Blair Witch in 2016's "Blair Witch" reboot.

The filmmaker has command of visual and suspense elements, but not much nuance or style is needed for a film like "Godzilla vs. Kong," which debuts in theaters and on HBO Max March 31. Any kid who has ever played with action figures knows the drill: Grab both of them, smash them together while making sure there is a lot of yelling, screaming, with helicopters blowing up and buildings falling down.

The movie delivers on all fronts, sprinkling in impressive clashes between the two titanic forces of destruction while keeping the necessary-yet-dull human maneuvering to a minimum. A few other giant monsters make appearances, including one sweetly corny "surprise" that bows more to fan wish-fulfillment than logic.

That's the theme in "Godzilla vs. Kong," and the film is all the better for it. This is a prototypical summer blockbuster served up early and at home. It's a sign of the times as far as the way things will be done going forward. From now on, action flicks don't need to wait for the summer, and you won't have to go find them in the theater.

I watched the movie at home, but figure it would have played much more spectacularly on theater screens, with the visceral thrills of the larger-than-life monsters slugging it out reverberating in the cranked-up speakers.

Even at home, though, "Godzilla vs. Kong" packs an impressive wallop. Kyle Chandler, Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, and Rebecca Hall's performances are about as consequential as cardboard cut-outs. The one impactful human performance comes from Kaylee Hottle, as a little girl who communicates with Kong via sign-language.

"Godzilla vs. Kong" knows what it's good at and excels under its slim, exacting parameters. Beating its chest and roaring to the sky in triumph, it's the master of its crumbled post-pandemic cinematic domain.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.
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This story was first published by Phil Villarreal at KGUN.