- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The latest clash of legendary pop culture Titans moves from HBO Max and select theaters to ultra-high definition home entertainment centers in Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 113 minutes, $29.96)

Five years after Godzilla saved humanity from King Ghidorah, the story picks up as the unusually enraged giant lizard is on the warpath destroying the evil APEX Cybernetics’ Pensacola base while a captured Kong remains subdued and unhappy in the government agency Monarch’s secret containment center.

However, as the multistory-tall ape is dragged across the planet and eventually used as a guide to find the mysterious Hollow Earth (the supposed home world of the Titans), he encounters the King of the Monsters.

Once the battles begin, it’s multiple rounds of knock-down, drag-out fights highlighted with the explosive, computer-generated destruction of Hong Kong.

And, true fans of the Godzilla mythos are in for a real treat when a certain mechanized Titan shows up to the fight challenging both popular behemoths in a tag team royale.

As with all Japanese-style monster movies, the humans mainly become collateral damage as the main events unfold, but a few are certainly notable here.

They include young orphan Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who helps Kong as his interpreter; Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), the daughter of Monarch scientist Mark Russell, who seeks to find the root of Godzilla’s aggression; Hollow Earth researcher Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård); and the cartoonish bad guy, APEX’s CEO Warren Simmons (Demian Bichir), who instructs his minions to exterminate all Titans.

Director Adam Wingard’s continuation of Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse succeeds through head-shaking action and his creative team’s loving embrace of the Kaiju movie genre.

Suffice it to report, it requires viewers arrive with a king-sized bowl of popcorn and a wide-eyed appreciation of these classic Alpha predators.

4K in action: Within the first minutes of the film, as a staggeringly realistic and older Kong walks through a waterfall, viewers know they are in for a treat, thanks to this quality presentation created from the 4K digital intermediate and embracing high dynamic range enhancements.

Moments such as the towering Kong touching his index finger to tiny female helper Jia’s finger as the rain drips from his serrated nail during the night reveal immaculate detail and clarity. Equal visual perfection finds Kong’s and Godzilla’s first tussle underwater devoid of murkiness.

Color saturation and tones remain strong throughout as shown with Godzilla blue atomic breath cutting through an aircraft carrier and glowing behind Kong, the psychedelically lit, gravitationally crushing trip to Hollow Earth and Godzilla rampaging through Honk Kong amid super skyscrapers illuminated by neon lighting.

For those with a speaker set-up to take advantage of Dolby Atmos soundtrack, they will become immersed in the familiar roars and ominous orchestral crescendos every time the beasts appear on screen.

Best extras: Although viewers should invest the time to rewatch the film with an optional commentary track provided by Mr., Wingard, the included version of the film comes packed with featurettes that further expand upon his limited reflections.

Recorded before the release of the film, he is not as talkative as I was hoping for and often focuses on trivia like more of a hardcore fan than a filmmaker spearheading a $150 million movie.

He does occasional break down some of the best shots with story revisions and some technical points and locations; calls his movie catalog “musicals in disguise,” due to his appreciation of scoring; and mentions how 200 extras were in awe of Miss Brown acting on the set and how much he enjoys drawing kid-style art.

He also explains the importance of being able to see the monsters in nighttime scenes, creating a scruffy Kong acting like a retired gunfighter or an older Elvis and wishing he made Godzilla’s head bigger,

It would have been helpful if he was joined by the writers during the track or any resident Kaiju film historian to fill out the fluffy discourse.

Those looking for more, the 10 featurettes are broken up into the sections — The God, The King and The Battles — and offer roughly 75 minutes more on the making of the film reinforced by interviews with not only the director and main actors but production designers Thomas S. Hammock and Owen Paterson and producer Alex Garcia.

Best of the bunch are a pair of segments covering the previous Kong and Godzilla films with words from directors Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla” version), Michael Dougherty (“Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters”) and Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“Kong: Skull Island”); and actors Bryan Cranston (“Godzilla” version) and Vera Farmiga (“Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters”); as well as genre historical expert Stephen Asma.

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