‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ delivers titanic monster action, but little else

Warner Bros.

I won’t try to convince you that “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a good movie, just like I wouldn’t try to convince you that professional wrestling is quality television programing.

But just like pro wrestling at its peak, Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a heck of a show if it’s your type of entertainment.

For the record, I like a quality gigantic monster movie showdown, and on that note, “Godzilla vs. Kong” delivers in spades. The film features three major Godzilla vs. Kong throw downs that are masterfully animated with outstanding CGI effects and that doesn’t include the conclusion in which another monstrous arch-foe shows up to cause issues for both Kong and Godzilla.

The monsters don’t look exactly real, but they are realistic enough and conceived and crafted in such a thrilling fashion that I never bothered to question what I was watching.

While I quite enjoyed “Kong: Skull Island” and probably would still rank it as the best of WB’s recent giant monster flicks, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a close second if only because it features filmdom’s top two giant monsters knocking the wind out of each other.

The best part of the film is that it essentially is what every kid would create if he were playing monsters in the back yard with a buddy or in his room with his action figures.

For old-time monster fans, the film contains several nods to Toho’s 1962 “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” which first pitted the two characters against one another.

Where the new films gets weighed down is where almost every Kaiju film fails. The human interactions are just boring compared to Kong and Godzilla beating the snot out of each other.

Some of the stars from the previous films in the series return like Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler, who starred in the previous Godzilla films in the series. It’s sorta nice to seen them.

Alexander Skarsgard and Rebecca Hall are recognizable actors as Kong’s caretakers along with young Kaylee Hottle as Jia, a young orphan from Kong’s island who has a special bond with the great ape through sign language. She’s as cute as a button and quite emotive without saying a word.

All of these characters and a few other are involved in the pseudo-scientific lore and mythology that the series of films have created around Godzilla and Kong, but all that mumbo jumbo is truly just filler between the ape and reptile fights, which are truly glorious mayhem for those of us who cut our movie-loving teeth watching the old Toho Godzilla films and the 1933 original “King Kong,” which still stands as the best giant monster movie in history, through my lens.

Kudos to director Adam Wingard, writers Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, story men Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields for giving giant monster movie fans the sugary treat their inner id demands.

If you’re looking for more than a basic plot, simple characterization, outstanding effects, and awesome Kaiju action, then don’t bother with “Godzilla vs. Kong.” It’s got nothing for you.

But if you are hankering to watch big monsters romping and stomping all over the screen, “Godzilla vs. Kong” has the goods.

The movie is playing in local theaters and on HBO Max.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 53 min.
Grade “C” for the overall film. Grade “A” for the giant monster battles.

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Classic Corner – Holiday-themed entertainment

Charlton Heston, Haya Harareet, Sam Jaffe, Cathy O’Donnell, and Martha Scott in Ben-Hur / Warner Bros.

Easter is this Sunday, and that’s just too good of an opportunity to remind you of some excellent holiday-themed entertainment featured on Turner Classic Movies and everyone’s favorite deep hole of entertainment, YouTube.

Ben Hur

Director William Wyler’s classic 1959 adaptation “Ben-Hur” plays at 7 p.m. Friday on TBS, and the 3 hour and 32 epic is literally an epic way to while away an entire evening.

Sometimes a movie is tagged as a epic falsely, but that is not the case with “Ben-Hur.” The word was practically created for the movie that tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, the Hebrew prince who became a slave determined to fight for his freedom from the Romans until he learns he can only be set free by letting go of his need for revenge and to find compassion for his fellow man.

Charlton Heston stars a Ben-Hur, and it’s arguably his finest performance in his best film. It’s hard to imagine any other actor in the iconic role of a man brought to his knees by his pride and lust for revenge. Both in Gen. Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel and the film, Ben-Hur’s life echoes the plight of the Jewish people under Roman rule and parallels the life of Jesus, whom Ben-Hur meets at critical points in his life.

The film includes one of the greatest action sequences ever committed to celluloid with its thrilling chariot race, which many critics feel stands unequaled before or since.

The movie won 11 Academy Awards in 1960, including Best Picture, Best Director (Wyler), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Heston), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hugh Griffith), and Best Cinematography.

Easter Parade

Musicals aren’t my favorite type of movies, but it’s hard for me to resist the charm of a good one.

The skill, talent and effort marshaled to make the flimsiest of big-screen musicals are formidable, and the best musicals — “The Wizard of Oz,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “West Side Story, “The Sound of Music,” “Grease” — create pure magic, if you give them half a chance.

Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” doesn’t quite rise to that magical level, but the 1948 Charles Walters’ film does feature Judy Garland at her apex and Fred Astaire while he was still near the top of his game.

Astaire had announced his retirement, but Gene Kelly, who was supposed to co-star with Garland before breaking his ankle playing volleyball, talked Astaire into taking the part.

The movie also features Peter Lawford as Astaire’ rival for Garland’s affection, and Ann Miller as Astaire’s dance partner, whom Garland replaces in the film.

The movie, which won an Oscar for Best Musical Score, features 14 Berlin songs that provide the perfect vehicle for the performers to spotlight their talents.

The movie doesn’t have a lot to do with Easter, other than lovers stroll together in their best attire, and that is of course depicted in the movie which plays at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

Easter Specials

Growing up in the 1970s, it seemed every one of the three big networks looked for nearly any excuse to run an animated special to break the monotony of the cop shows and sit-coms that dominated the air waves. While Easter wasn’t quite as popular a theme as Christmas, there was no shortage of televised tales about the Easter Bunny.

Here’s a couple of suggestions for Easter entertainment for the little tykes and perhaps nostalgic old fogies like me.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Peter Cottontail (voiced by Casey Kasem) is the heir apparent to the mantle of the chief Easter Bunny, but when a night of partying causes him to oversleep, his succession is in question. The evil Irontail (voiced by Vincent Price) wants the mantle, too, so he can twist the holiday more to his morbid liking. Peter Cottontail must travel back in time in an attempt to give away all his eggs or the evil Irontail will ruin Easter for everyone. Danny Kaye narrates the delightful 1971 special as Seymour S. Sassafras.

The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town

“The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town” not only introduces another origin for the Easter Bunny, but it also gives mythical origins for many of the trappings of the holiday, such as the bonnets, eggs, and jelly beans. This 1977 special will remind you of Rankin/Bass’ earlier film “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” from 1970, which gave away all of Kris Kringle’s secrets. It’s even narrated by Fred Astaire again as holiday mailman Special Delivery Kluger.

The Rankin/Bass specials were always my favorites, but if you search for “Easter specials” on YouTube, you’ll find a variety of animated specials starring cartoon characters of all stripes. The quality, of course, varies but such a search with children of the right age might be fun for you and them both.