Gloriously stupid and shamelessly over the top, Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the sort of popcorn entertainment that’s been absent for far too long on the big screen.
Of course, whether you actually missed this type of large-scale-urban-mayhem, short-on-logic movie certainly depends on your preference for gigantic monsters going toe-to-toe.
“Hamlet,” this ain’t. And that’s fine, as it still serves a purpose — sit back, wallow in the silliness of a nonsensical monster mash and relieve a bit of stress.
For those keeping score, this is the fourth entry in Legendary Pictures’ “Monsterverse,” a re-imagining of Japan’s Toho Studios’ seminal Kaiju creatures (read: big destructive monsters) in a shared universe.
The first two entries, 2014’s “Godzilla” and 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island,” were solid re-introductions of the titular creatures, while 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” proved a major disappointment, a narratively muddled and visually murky feature that was a frustrating placeholder.
The good news is that “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a vast improvement, an at-times-thrilling film that delivers on the title’s promise again and again.
The bad news: The story is a needlessly complicated, nonsensical affair in which screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein struggle to provide a logical explanation as to why the King of the Monsters and the Eighth Wonder of the World would want to duke it out.
They failed to realize that no one really cares why Kong is going to make Godzilla catch them hairy hands, they just want to see it go down!
Deep breath, here we go: Kong is trapped in a prison that resembles Skull Island. He is being kept hidden because Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is convinced if he’s allowed in the open, Godzilla will sense him and come looking for a fight. (Why she thinks this eludes me. Let’s keep moving …)
Meanwhile, nefarious industrialist Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir) has sought out Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard), author of the “Hollow Earth” theory, in which he contends that, you guessed it, the Earth is hollow, and this is where creatures like Kong, Godzilla and their brethren have been this whole time.
Seems a massive energy source has been detected there, and they need Kong to show them the way to it. Guess who they run into along the way …
Once spaceships used to breach the Earth’s core were introduced, I gave up on the logic. I was there for the fights, and Wingard and his crew deliver. Everything you would want and more is present as our two heroes go beasto-a-beasto.
Cities are laid to waste with style and imagination while a sea battle that finds Kong leapfrogging from aircraft carrier to aircraft carrier is as much fun as it is silly.
Some may object to Godzilla’s one-note “performance,” but Wingard’s special-effects crew gives Kong a sense of expressiveness that’s astounding and worth the price of admission.
Before the dust settles, a definite winner is proclaimed, a major cameo from the Godzilla universe occurs, and you’ll realize you’ve been smiling all the way through this silliness.
It’s not great art, but man, it sure is fun.
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