When I was a kid, my family would visit Pakistan every year for summer vacations, and we’d stay at my paternal grandmother’s home where there was no company aside from the elderly, and little to do for an introverted child, except watch films on an old VCR that would threaten to eat VHS tapes.

One summer, we rented King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) and I watched the old Japanese kaiju film repeatedly for weeks. It was a thrilling monster film that knew what its audience wanted: big creatures fighting. Recently, I watched the film again, and the special effects didn’t age well. Now, it’s clear that it’s just two dudes in costumes duking it out with all the skill and aggression of two Karens fighting over a parking spot near a Walmart in middle America.

But I digress. Godzilla vs Kong (2021) is an exhilarating monster film that makes me feel like a little kid again. The special effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The creatures are so incredibly detailed, and the animation so lifelike, that you’d believe they were real.

Please don’t do yourself a disservice by watching Godzilla vs Kong on your phone or laptop. If you’ve been vaccinated, watch it in the theatre. Otherwise, watch it on a large 4K TV with HDR (High Dynamic Range) to genuinely appreciate the stunning visuals.

With excellent special effects and eye-popping visuals, Godzilla vs Kong is an exhilarating monster film that makes one feel like a little kid again

The HDR effects are essential because they really help the colours pop. For example, there’s a fight sequence in modern Hong Kong, and the high contrast of HDR makes the neon-lit buildings in the background look part of a giant psychedelic trance concert.

Director Adam Wingard knows what we want from this movie, and gives it to us almost immediately by showcasing the action early. Unfortunately, the story in Godzilla vs Kong is serviceable at best. The film takes place five years after Godzilla defeated King Ghidorah, and humanity began to accept the creature as a keeper of the peace.

However, Godzilla starts to go berserk, violently attacking a facility and killing humans. Of course, to stop the monster, the human beings bring Kong into the picture. The two beings fight, and more people die, so clearly it wasn’t a great plan.

The film features quite a few talented actors. There’s Alexander Skarsgård, playing a geologist named Dr Nathan Lind who follows Kong. There’s Millie Bobby Brown, playing Madison Russell, the daughter of a pair of scientists, who believes that there’s some sinister human behaviour behind Godzilla’s dangerous actions. There’s also Brian Tyree Henry, who plays a technician named Bernie Hayes, who runs a conspiracy theory podcast, and is the most charismatic human performer in the film, with some amusing dialogue.

The cast doesn’t have much to work with. Most of the characterisation is one-dimensional. Their roles are simply to push the plot forward and create another excuse for Godzilla and Kong to come to blows. While this is understandable, and clever to some extent, I feel like the human element could have been more compelling, without overshadowing the monsters.

Ultimately, we watch Godzilla vs Kong for one reason, and the film serves that on a large platter.

Rated PG-13 because of destruction, brief language and intense creature violence

Published in Dawn, ICON, April 11th, 2021

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