It's possible at least to admire ''Godzilla vs Kong'' for what it is - an action movie made with lavish grandiosity, zero pretension and not too much originality.

An opening sequence gestures in the direction previous MonsterVerse installments [''Godzilla,'' ''Kong : Skull Island'' and ''Godzilla : King of the Monsters''] while also tapping into the energy-drink rhythms of Playoff sports broadcasting.

Myths and legends are invoked along with genetics and geo-physics, but bracketology is the relevant intellectual discipline.

And the principal aesthetic achievements are the Kaiju and the ape. They fight at sea and on the streets of Hong Kong, and their bodies are rendered in loving, preposterous detail.

Rematch of the mighty brawlers : In 'Godzilla vs. Kong.'' the ape and the lizard struggle toe-to-toe.

A few months ago, I watched 'Godzilla vs. Kong,' alone in my darkened living room. This was far from ideal, but it did make me acutely nostalgic for a specific pleasure that I have gone without for 13 months.

There are many reasons I miss going to movie theaters, but one of them I hadn't really taken account of is the particular delight of watching a bad movie on a big screen.

I don't mean ''bad'' in a bad way. It's a description, rather than a judgment. ''Godzilla vs. Kong,'' directed by Adam Wingard, is the fourth episode in a franchise, called the MonsterVerse, engineered from fossilized B-movie DNA.

As such, it assembles an impressive human cast to run around to explain fake science and calling attention to what is happening in plain sight.

''Did the monkey just talk?'' someone asks. He did, sort of, but that's not what anybody is here to see. We paid him money to watch him fight the lizard.

Well, I didn't, but if things were different I might have. Not necessairly as part of a monthly HBO Max subscription fee, mind you. 

''The movie made $123 million in non-U.S. theaters the weekend before last.]

The spectacle of the titular titans going mano a mano was meant to witnessed in the presence of restless members of your own species, whose behavior provokes you to groan at the ridiculous parts, laugh too hard at the secondhand jokes and cheer when simian fists connects with saurian jaw. 

The movie, written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, may tilt a little in Kong's favor. He has a sweet friendship with a young girl named Jia [Kaylee Hottle], whose guardian is IIene Andrews, a sensitive scientist played by Rebecca Hall.

''Godzilla vs. Kong'' turns its limitations into virtues and makes stupidity into its own kind of ingenuity. The original ''Gojira'' was an allegory of human recklessness, much as the old ''King Kong'' was a tragedy catalyzed by human cruelty.

They were pop fables, something this slick spectacle doesn't remotely aspire to be. But it does at least honor the nobility of brutes on the screen as it caters to the appetites of the brutes on the couch.

The World Students Society thanks review author A. O. Scott.


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