REVIEW

Godzilla Vs Kong is a wrecking ball of gobsmacking eye candy. So what if it has a tiny popcorn brain?

GODZILLA VS KONG (M, 113 minutes)

Four stars

To borrow a quote from director Michael Bay's inevitable giant robot reboot of Forrest Gump, stupendous is as stupendous does.

A creature feature every bit as gargantuan as its epic title suggests, Godzilla Vs Kong is a monster mash-up movie crossover that's stupendous to behold on the big screen.

It is also, as you might expect, colossally stupid: a relentless CGI-orama wrecking ball with a teensy-weensy popcorn brain.

Which, of course, means if you're looking for a reason to go back to the cinema look no further. As guilty pleasures go, this is smashing fun.

The titans clash in Godzilla vs. Kong. Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

The titans clash in Godzilla vs. Kong. Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

The fourth movie in Legendary Entertainment's trademarked "MonsterVerse" series follows in the super-sized footprints of Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).

The 2014 film, starring Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and a leviathan lizard glimpsed for only a few minutes, rebooted the radioactive reptile franchise after Independence Day director Roland Emmerich's underwhelming 1998 Godzilla (the one with Matthew Broderick).

Likewise, 2017's Skull Island, featuring a scenery-chewing Samuel L. Jackson and enough exploding helicopters to please discerning action movie fans, was a pulpy reboot for the mega monkey franchise following Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong (the one with Natalie Watts).

Now, the titular alpha titans collide in their own cage-free MMA smackdown.

Yes, handsomely computer-rendered fur will fly. Hold tight for lots of chest-beating and bad-breath fireballs, the levelling of dozens of neon-lit Hong Kong skyscrapers and a journey to the centre of the earth that for a few magical moments reminds you of the look on James Mason's face when he first saw those ginormous painted iguanas in 1959's Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Oh, and there's a Transformers-meets-Pacific Rim twist courtesy of the obligatory corporate skulduggery.

The spectacle in Godzilla Vs Kong is relentless to the point of stupefying. The noise is thunderous. The humans are almost as inconsequential as the plot. And in the end, the sound and fury and science-fiction flourishes signify, well, not much at all.

But as schlock-horror entertainment it's still a ripsnorting romp.

Happily, you don't need to have seen the three previous Legendary films to get the gist going in. That's what the pre-credits sequence, info-laden opening titles and exposition-heavy dialogue are for!

Almost 60 years on from their first men-in-rubber-suits clash in the Japanese Toho Studios classic King Kong Vs Godzilla, the digital effects are mighty impressive.

The (safely) full house at Wednesday night's Dendy Canberra preview screening cheered the big dumb blasts of eye candy (sorry, Tenet). An extravagant brawl astride the deck of an exploding aircraft carrier makes for gobsmacking bedlam. A detour into "hollow earth" - an upside-down world with lava-creased mountains for sky - is also marvellously imagined and realised.

The quieter human-sized moments - I think I counted three - got a few laughs and sighs. With cold-blooded Godzilla packing heat, it's Kong who brings the heart.

Young newcomer Kaylee Hottle, who is deaf, shines as an orphan who communicates with the ape through sign language. With Millie Bobby Brown (from Stranger Things) as Team Godzilla's main cheerleader, the adult cast are mostly incidental to the rollicking destruction.

Flattening Hong Kong in the climactic battle is an intriguing choice by Chinese-owned Legendary. While the scenes of catastrophic damage wreaked upon the metropolis might seem monstrously insensitive given what Hong Kong has been going through lately, at least we are spared most of the human horror likely to be occurring at ground level when city blocks are being obliterated and skyscrapers are being toppled.

We're also spared one of those surprise scenes after the end credits teasing a sequel. Judging by how many others stuck around like me on Wednesday night just in case there was a taste of more mayhem to come, Legendary and co-producer Warner Bros appear to have missed a big opportunity.

Instead, they have left us with giant lizard- and gorilla-shaped holes in our shallow, popcorn-guzzling lives.

This story Crushed it: monster movie unleashes wrecking ball of eye candy first appeared on The Canberra Times.