BAXTER — This is the one monster-lovers have been waiting for.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” was released last week in theaters like the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter or the Sunset Cinema in Pequot Lakes, and it was a big box office hit — like Godzilla or Kong big.

And it takes a screen the size of one found in movie theaters to fully enjoy all the destructive action moviegoers have been waiting for since 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

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The film sequel runs two hours long and includes a sci-fi plot twist upon the legendary mythical creatures of yore in the PG-13 movie that casual audiences probably won’t accurately guess.

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The new release is the fourth installment in the “MonsterVerse,” a fictional universe featuring Godzilla and Kong, much like Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe that included stand-alone films like “Black Widow” and occasional team-ups of the Avengers.

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Explosions with crumbling skyscrapers accompanied by loud brass instruments on the soundtrack are par for the course in “Godzilla vs. Kong” with its fights on land and by sea.

Panicked people run in fear as debris rains down from above as the two creatures duke it out, mostly oblivious to the casual damage they inflict upon property or the collateral carnage.

King Kong is an oversized gorilla-like ape that has appeared in various media since 1933. Photo by Third Serving on Unsplash.com
King Kong is an oversized gorilla-like ape that has appeared in various media since 1933. Photo by Third Serving on Unsplash.com

The previous 2019 installment in the MonsterVerse produced by Legendary Entertainment and co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures had Godzilla hailed as a hero of mankind.

But the tables are turned in the new motion picture with Kong called upon by society to take on the lizard-like Godzilla in an epic battle for the ages where there can only be one winner.

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The oversized simian is sedated, chained and transported on water from an island by a fleet of armed vessels when the gorilla-like Kong is awoken by an unprovoked attack by Godzilla.

(I couldn’t help but wonder how Kong’s handlers managed to put under the 337-foot-tall Kong in the first place. Did they feed him a Thanksgiving meal beforehand to induce a “food coma”?)

We are told by co-stars Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård the bad blood between Godzilla and Kong is part of an “ancient rivalry” that has left Godzilla and Kong the last two standing.

A movie poster above the concession area at the Lakes 12 Theatre emphasizes the epic showdown of the monster movie "Godzilla vs. Kong." Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
A movie poster above the concession area at the Lakes 12 Theatre emphasizes the epic showdown of the monster movie "Godzilla vs. Kong." Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

The taglines for the film plays that up, and it has grossed $48.5 million this past weekend alone — way more than “Wonder Woman 1984,” which took in $16.7 million, according to Variety.

“One will fall,” “God vs. King,” “The second coming” and “Our Fate. Their fight,” hypes up the match to Las Vegas-boxing, pay-per-view hyperbole reminiscent of a monster truck rally.

“We need Kong. The world needs him to stop what’s coming,” says Nathan Lind, a theorist played by Skarsgård, who believes a hollow space in the earth is where the monsters hail from.

Godzilla is an oversized lizard-like reptile whose signature weapon is its "atomic breath." Photo by Andrés Medina on Unsplash.com
Godzilla is an oversized lizard-like reptile whose signature weapon is its "atomic breath." Photo by Andrés Medina on Unsplash.com

Godzilla’s attack on the modified barge transporting Kong and escorted by the Navy is the first show-stopping “rock ‘em, sock ‘em”-type confrontation between the two mammoth monsters.

Godzilla slices through the open water — and also at times leaps up from beneath the water’s surface — in a kind of deadly cat-and-mouse game, as if toying with his hirsute antagonist.

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These aren’t your granddad’s monsters. Oh, no. These computer-generated ones are not some guy in a rubber suit stomping on miniatures but a true sight to behold and almost to be believed.

The anticipation of the matchup has been so eagerly anticipated that a fan created a fake sneak preview for “Godzilla vs. Kong” featuring his cat that can be found here: https://bit.ly/3uohA3f.

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The trailers for the Adam Wingard-directed motion picture don’t give away much of the plot and partly because there’s not much of a coherent plot to give away in the special effects-laden film.

Due to its bombastic thrills or relatable cinematic threat to society, “Godzilla vs. Kong” has set, however, a new pandemic box office record with the biggest domestic opening in a year.

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Kong, from RKO Radio Pictures’ 1933 film “King Kong,” and Godzilla, from Toho Studios’ 1954 self-titled “Godzilla,” have appeared on the big screen many times before.“Godzilla vs. Kong” is the 36th film in the Godzilla franchise and the 12th film in the King Kong franchise.

Whether a moviegoer is “Team Kong” or “Team ‘Zilla,” one thing is for certain when it comes to “Godzilla vs. Kong” and that is the almost mutually assured annihilation of the human race.

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The family-friendly movie holds a 76% approval rating among critics and a 93% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum.