Tag Archives: King Kong

Place Your Bets

Godzilla vs. Kong

by George Wolf & Hope Madden

Here’s a sampling of the things we yelled at the screen during Godzilla vs. Kong:

“Boom! In the face!”

“Kyle Chandler is a terrible father.”

“Skull f**k him!”

“It’s just a flesh wound, get up!”

So you could say we were engaged in this battle, the one that’s been brewing since the end credits stinger from the excellent Kong: Skull Island four years ago. GvK can’t quite match that film’s tonal bullseye, but it easily lands as second best in the “Titan” Monsterverse that was reborn with 2014’s Godzilla.

Picking up three years after the tedious Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the film finds Kong contained on Skull Island under the respectful eye of Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall).

Meanwhile, Godzilla attacks APEX’s Florida headquarters – seemingly unprovoked. Mansplaining Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) says Godzilla’s changed his hero stripes, but his daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) and “Titan Truth” podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry, committing grand theft scenery) think there’s got to be more to the story.

There’s plenty more, and Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) believes Kong could be the key to proving his Hollow Earth theory about the Titans. Ilene agrees to allow the heavily sedated Kong to be transported by sea, but far from Godzilla’s favorite swimming holes, of course.


Director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch) clearly realizes that monster mashes aren’t compelling if you can’t tell who’s fighting, and the technical aspects of GvK bring the Titan battles to vibrant life. Pristine cinematography, detailed CGI effects and a wonderfully layered sound design elevate the thrills early and often.

And that is what we’re here for, isn’t it?

That’s a familiar refrain when the human arcs in these films are so woeful, but screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein toss the overwrought melodrama of King of the Monsters and add a frisky sense of welcome fun.

Yes, there’s another cute kid (Kaylee Hottle) with negligent guardians, and more than enough characters, locations and theories to keep up with. But even if you fall behind, you’ll catch up when these two Titans throw hands and tails, because they mean business.

They’re timing ain’t bad, either, as this is the kind of cinematic spectacle that could mean very good business for newly reopened theaters that badly need it. It’s a PG-13 return to form for a legendary franchise, with plenty to reward your popcorn munching and ringside commentary (keep it clean at the multiplex, please).

Just pick your screen size, and get ready to rumble.

Creature Feature Countdown

Godzilla made a pretty impressive return last weekend, thanks mostly to director Gareth Edwards‘s ability to spectacularly realize monster fight chaos. The old reptile deserved it, really, having been hashed and rehashed in dozens of ways since his birth in 1954. It put us in the  mood for other great creature features, so here is a perusal of some of our modern favorites.

5. The Host (2006)

In 2006, Korea’s Joon-ho Bong took his own shot at the Godzilla fable. The sci-fi import The Host, which tells the tale of a giant mutant monster terrorizing Seoul, has all the thumbprints of the old Godzilla movies: military blunder, resultant angry monster, terrorized metropolis. The film’s often comedic tone gives it a quirky charm, but seriously diminishes its ability to frighten. Host does generate real, claustrophobic dread when it focuses on a missing child, though. Along with its endearing characters, well-paced plot, and excellent climax, it makes for a worthy creature feature offering.

4. King Kong (2005)

That’s right, we are dismissing the 1933 original and, obviously, the 1976 debacle in favor of Peter Jackson’s remarkable feat of intimacy and CGI. Andy Serkis offers a stunning heartbeat for the giant ape, and Naomi Watts performs better with a green screen than most actors do with flesh and blood colleagues. Even Jack Black proves his mettle in an effort that reminds audiences of the surprising universality of the old tale.

3. The Thing (1982)

Another reboot makes the list. In 1982, John Carpenter reconsidered the old SciFi standby The Thing from Another World from a Cold War terror into a claustrophobic, icy bloodbath. A beard-tastic team of scientists on expedition in the Arctic takes in a dog. The dog is not a dog, though. Not really. And soon, in an isolated wasteland offering barely enough interior room to hold all the facial hair, folks are getting jumpy because there’s no knowing who’s not really himself anymore.


2. Alien (1979)

After a vagina-hand-sucker-monster attaches itself to your face, it gestates inside you, then tears through your innards. Then it grows exponentially, hides a second set of teeth, and bleeds acid. How much cooler could this possibly be? Ridley Scott married haunted house tropes with SciFi creature feature scares to create maybe the greatest alien horror of all time.

1. Jaws (1975)

Thanks to a cantankerous mechanical shark and a relentlessly effective score, twentysomething Stephen Spielberg was able to create mounting dread like no one before him by relying on the audience’s imagination and showing little of his creature. It may have been partly unintentional, but the effect – along with maybe cinema’s greatest buddy threesome of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss – created the most beloved, most influential creature feature of all.