MARCH 27 ― Finally, it’s starting to feel like a dose of normality is coming back to our collective movie diets, first with the highly anticipated arrival of Zack Snyder’s Justice League last week, and this week with the arrival of a bona fide blockbuster smash in local cinemas with Godzilla vs. Kong.
It’s taken slightly more than a year since the first movement control order (MCO) was enforced last year for that feeling of normality (at least in terms of movies) to finally come back, although accompanied by strict SOPs now.
However much we’ve enjoyed watching movies from the comforts of our own homes, there’s just no denying the excitement, that special tingle we feel in our bones, whenever a tentpole movie event arrives in local cinemas, and that special rush of hunting down movie tickets and to be able to be one of the first among your friends to see it.
It’s a bit of a shame that we never got the chance to experience Zack Snyder’s Justice League in all its IMAX glory since it is exclusive to HBO Max, but it’s also fitting that, even though Godzilla vs. Kong is also a Warner Bros. title that’s scheduled to be shown on HBO Max (but also in cinemas) in the US, the first true big, dumb, crowd-pleasing blockbuster that we get to experience in Malaysian cinemas is the wondrous sight of two big monsters going at each other to find out who’s truly king.
Thanks to Warner’s deal with HBO Max, even if you’re still hesitant about going into a roomful of strangers to sit in the dark for a few hours to watch a movie, you can still catch these two big tickets at home, and get that wonderful dose of blockbuster movie magic that has mostly been missing from our movie diets ever since the pandemic hit the globe really hard last year.
Godzilla vs. Kong
If you’ve seen Legendary and Warner’s previous MonsterVerse movies ― the 2014 Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters ― then you should already know by now that everyone’s here not to see incredible and insightful character development among the humans, but to just savour the films’ wondrous monsters and their exploits, whether they’re of the destructive kind (like Godzilla, King Kong, Ghidorah) or of the beautiful kind (like Mothra).
Director Adam Wingard fully understands this, and despite making us wait almost 40 minutes for the film title to finally come true with the first battle between Godzilla and King Kong, that long wait was totally worth it with a battle in the middle of the ocean that is simply one of the best monster battles I’ve ever witnessed in a kaiju movie, with enough moments of awe, suspense, mayhem and sadness to fully make up for the previous 40 minutes or so of exposition and story set-up among the puny human characters.
Wingard not only stages the battles here really well, benefiting from modern day CGI technology to make the various smackdowns not only awesome to behold, but they’re also accompanied by well-earned emotional heft, courtesy of some beautifully executed facial expressions and eye contact from the monster characters.
And boy there are plenty of these smackdowns! Not only do we get three full rounds of Godzilla vs. King Kong madness, but there are also some bonus rounds involving a character not revealed but hinted at in the trailers that will make kaiju movie fans squeal with delight.
If you’re looking for a meaningful story, this is plainly the wrong movie for you, but if you’re looking for some thunderous monster showdowns, you’ve come to the right place.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
After more than three years of fans campaigning to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League, a film which Zack Snyder didn’t get to finish due to a family tragedy before the film’s original release in 2017, it's here.
Warner Bros. then tasked The Avengers director Joss Whedon with seeing the film through post-production as well as some reshoots, but the resulting two-hour movie (reportedly a runtime mandated by Warner Bros.) underwhelmed quite a lot of people, including yours truly.
What’s really baffled me was why WB or DC Films thought it was a good idea to make a superhero gang/alliance film a la Avengers without first releasing single movies introducing the film’s many characters like Marvel patiently did before they released The Avengers.
Now that I’ve watched Snyder’s real vision for Justice League, in all its four-hour plus glory, I finally got my answer, as Snyder beautifully introduces all the major characters here properly.
Characters without their own movie prior to the 2017 version of Justice League like Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash have all got their back stories sorted here, resulting in a much more emotionally satisfying film, and a suitably grand and epic entry into the halls of respectable superhero movies.
So now my question becomes, if WB and DC Films trusted Snyder’s vision enough to give him the keys to the DCEU kingdom, why did they think it was a good idea to compromise that vision by releasing what’s basically half a movie with the two-hour version of Justice League back in 2017?
It should be clear as day to anyone who’s watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League that from the looks of it, this movie’s clearly shot (or at the very least written) as a four-hour experience, and WB and DC Films should’ve been brave enough to stick with this vision in the first place, not after the first film bombed and years of fans campaigning finally forced them to reconsider.
A triumph for advocates of directors having full creative control, this movie should offer enough proof to naysayers that sometimes, even for a big-budget blockbuster, it’s totally worth the gamble.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
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