‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ director promises ‘the biggest fight scenes of all time’

The film is playing in theaters and on HBO Max. Supplied
The film is playing in theaters and on HBO Max. Supplied
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Updated 04 April 2021

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ director promises ‘the biggest fight scenes of all time’

The film is playing in theaters and on HBO Max. Supplied

LOS ANGELES: If you want to get simplistic about it, monster blockbuster “Godzilla vs. Kong” is about a gorilla and a lizard fighting — but it’s so epic, it will have you glued to your seat.

“The movie is so many different things,” said director Adam Wingard, a childhood fan of giant kaiju monster films. “It’s a futuristic, sci-fi fantasy film with the biggest fight scenes of all time.”

The most recent installment in the MonsterVerse franchise is fun, and for a moviegoing public that could use a bit of bombastic blockbuster spectacle, it delivers. It doesn’t abandon the themes or environmentalist message found in the previous entries of Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ film franchise, but it does let them soak into the background. 

Similarly, while it is still tied into the established lore of the previous films with some returning characters and the giant monster Illuminati group Monarch, there is little complication in the form of narrative twists. Mysteries are heavily foreshadowed, presented not to bend the minds of audiences but rather to provide moments of anticipation before the next action scene hits like a rollercoaster drop. The spectacle is the focus, not the plot, though when describing “Godzilla vs. Kong,” it may be more appropriate to say plots plural.

“You can look at the film as two separate stories that intersect eventually: Team Kong and Team Godzilla,” Wingard explained. 

Where the previous films kept attention on the human characters, generally focusing on their struggle to avoid or cope with being collateral damage in the battles between the monsters referred to in-universe as Titans, “Godzilla vs. Kong” positions its human cast as supporting characters to the two CGI lead roles.




The film is the most recent installment in the MonsterVerse franchise. Supplied

“Each human story is following the monster story,” Wingard continued. 

Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role from “Godzilla: King of Monsters” as Madison Russell, the teen daughter of Godzilla-expert scientists who suspects that recent attacks by Godzilla are being provoked by shady tech corporation Apex. She is joined by her wisecracking best friend, Josh (Julian Dennison) and an Apex engineer turned conspiracy theorist, Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry).

“In the movie, they’re an amazing team. They work really well together. They complement each other so well,” Brown said. “Offset, it’s so nice to be friends with the people you work with.”

This half of the film evokes a classic “kids-on-a-road-trip” adventure, and child actors Brown and Dennison deliver in their performances. 

“Millie’s been so awesome to work with. Julian is honestly just a big ball of happiness,” said Henry. “There’s something about their essence and in the way they carry themselves in and out of character, which is so great.” 




“Godzilla vs. Kong” positions its human cast as supporting characters to the two CGI lead roles. Supplied

You can’t mention the film’s child actors without bringing up screen newcomer Kaylee Hottle, a deaf actress who plays Jia, an orphan girl from Skull Island who has formed a special bond with Kong and able to communicate with him via sign language. This relationship harkens back to other movies that feature kid characters and their non-human friends, such as “The Iron Giant” or “E.T.”

“Kaylee really is very talented. She’s incredibly rewarding to work with as an actor,” said Rebecca Hall, lead actress of the Kong half of the film’s story. “She gives so much, and as I’ve gotten to know her better, I’ve realized that she’s extremely funny and playful. She’s just a great kid to be around.”

The Team Kong human characters are on a separate adventure as they escort Kong to an underground subcontinent known as Hollow Earth. While the film is full of beautiful art direction — particular mention goes to Godzilla and Kong’s nighttime fight in the neon-filled Hong Kong skyline — Hollow Earth is the movie’s chance to showcase a fantastical, psychedelic feel. Another 80s adventure subgenre checked off the list.




The star-studded cast brings their A-game to the movie, providing comedy beats and some heartwarming family moments. Supplied

The star-studded cast brings their A-game to the movie, providing comedy beats and some heartwarming family moments. And while the human characters in monster movies are generally there to give the audience someone to relate to, “Godzilla vs. Kong” gives us a peek into the minds and hearts of its monsters. 

Kong in particular is given a wordless depth of character, thanks to the previously mentioned relationship with Jia and the stellar performance by Terry Notary. Notary’s body language is evocative of, once again, 80s grizzled action heroes. It’s funny to watch a 50-foot ape dive away from an explosion like he’s starring in “Die Hard,” and it’s nice to see moments of humanity in scenes of big CGI action figures bashing into each other. 

As Hollywood begins to resume operation in earnest, it’s a breath of fresh air to have a turn-your-brain-off popcorn-muncher of an action movie that knocks it out of the park, whether you’re watching in theaters or on HBO Max.


‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine
Updated 12 April 2021

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

CHICAGO: A fantastical novel that took the Turkish literary world by storm, Kemal Varol’s “Wuf” is a love story narrated by a canine. Translated into English by Dayla Rogers, the novel takes place in the 1990s amid a war between the southerners and northerners. Mikasa, the main character and a young street pup, learns about life and how to survive between the big city and the mountain town where he attempts to find shelter, food, friends and love. His journey will transform him into a legend and an enigma.

With a politically charged backdrop of the conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the state, Varol layers his surrealist novel with humor, tragedy, friendship and the horrors of war that befall places, people, animals and the natural landscape. He keeps a politically realistic and emotional novel accessible to everyone, according to Rogers in the translator’s statement, as she points out that Varol “manages to capture multiple perspectives in the conflict thanks to myriad characters who straddle social divides.” Varol creates his main character as a bridge to opposing worlds, and in doing so allows for the story to reach eyes, ears and hearts on all sides of the conflict.

Readers first meet Mikasa at a shelter along a mountain road. He arrives half alive, wounded and bloody, and sleeps for seven days as his fellow kennel-mates speculate about who he is. They are in the middle of a war, as is evident by the army trucks and soldiers that pass on the road day and night. There are rumors among the dogs about what is going on in a world that they are kept from, but Mikasa fills in the gaps as he recalls his life, the war, the destruction and hardship, and Melsa, his love.

Varol’s novel references real political events that inundated the country in the 1990s. In Mikasa, a dog who has been forced to survive his entire life without his family and as a minesweeper during the conflict, Varol captures the devastation of war and the comradery between creatures when fighting for life. Through the eyes of his canines, Varol writes about life that surrounds war, those who want to fight, those who do not want to fight, and those who are caught in the middle.


Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

 Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives
Updated 12 April 2021

Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

 Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

DUBAI: US-Palestinian twins and DJ duo Simi and Haze Khadra showed support for Lebanese creatives this week by wearing merchandise from Ya Habibi Market, an online streetwear store designed to support artists from the Middle East.

Simi championed the brand’s Laurel Soap Official Stamp sweater and wrote on her Instagram Stories: “All proceeds go to Impact Lebanon.” 

(Instagram/@simihaze)

The duo, whose real names are Sama and Haya, were born in Palestine, but grew up between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They are the younger sisters of Fai Khadra, who first made waves when he accompanied model and reality television star Kendall Jenner to Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s wedding in September 2018. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

Ya Habibi Market started after the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port area, with the aim of uniting artists in the region and helping those affected by the blast.


Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set
Updated 12 April 2021

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

DUBAI: US singer and songwriter Katy Perry this week championed a dress by renowned luxury label Maison Alaia, which was founded by late French-Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaia. 

The superstar wore the brand’s Panther Print Velvet Jacquard Gown on Monday’s episode of “American Idol,” which she judges alongside Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Ryan Seacrest. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry)

Not only did the 36-year-old singer step out in an Arab label, but she also rocked a new darker hair color.

Fans quickly took to social media to comment on Perry’s new look.

 “Is it just me or is @katyperry hotter than normal tonight?” one Twitter user asked. 


Ramadan gift guide: From tea to beauty buys, these sets will brighten your day

Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied
Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied
Updated 12 April 2021

Ramadan gift guide: From tea to beauty buys, these sets will brighten your day

Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied

DUBAI: From a fragrant bouquet of flowers to a selection of the world’s finest tea, read on for seven gift sets to give (and get) this Ramadan. 

 

Huda Beauty Ramadan Gifting Calendar


Treat your loved ones (or yourself) to a curated advent calendar filled with Huda Beauty’s top 10 products. The calendar has been designed to be opened every evening after breaking one’s fast during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Lakrids by Bulow Love Selection Box


This gift box features the Danish confectionery’s popular chocolate-coated liquorice and is perfect to end your iftar and suhoor on a sweet note.

Tania’s Teahouse Ramadan advent calendar


Celebrate each day of the Holy Month with a cup of some of the world’s finest tea. From black tea to fruity infusions tucked inside the drawers, this is every tea lover’s dream. 

Kiehl’s Ramadan Set

The curated collection of the brand’s best-selling products delivers intense hydration and skincare benefits that cover all your needs.

Bateel Luna gift set


Filled with Bateel organic gourmet dates, this crescent-adorned box set makes for a healthy and thoughtful gift this Ramadan. 

 

Maison des Fleurs gift set


This tray with a small box of Medjool dates and a faux flowers arrangement is not your typical bouquet.

Sugargram Ramadan candygram box

To celebrate Ramadan, Sugargram has  launched a a gift box filled with locally-produced candy cubes you could gift or just enjoy for yourself. With an assorted mix of 10 artisanal flavors, each box is guaranteed to satisfy.


Lebanese influencer, designer Karen Wazen launches mobile game app

The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied
The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied
Updated 11 April 2021

Lebanese influencer, designer Karen Wazen launches mobile game app

The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied

DUBAI: Lebanese-British fashion blogger and eyewear designer Karen Wazen has just launched her very first mobile game app. Available on iOS and Android, the new mobile app is titled “Karen Wazen: My World,” and arrived on all app stores today.

The interactive game is based on the Dubai-based fashionista’s real life and is similar to “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” a highly addictive app that mythologizes Kardashian West’s ladder climb to the A-list. 

The free mobile app is a role-playing game with multiple levels that allows users to re-live Wazen’s journey and most memorable milestones, such as graduating in London, getting married and becoming a mother and an entrepreneur in Dubai. 

The interactive game is based on the Dubai-based fashionista’s real life. Supplied

Wazen reveals that the new game came about during lockdown last year, when playing games with her family was a major source of stress-relief during the uncertain time.

“Like so many people during lockdown, we had to think of creative ways of having fun and stay positive during those uncertain times. What sparked the idea for developing the app was discovering how stress relieving playing games with the family was — both online and offline,” Wazen said in a released statement.

“And with this, we’re so excited to be introducing ‘Karen Wazen: My World,’ a free app where we can connect with our followers beyond Instagram and around the world, where users can get to know my story and be a part of my world through a fun, lighthearted game,” she added.

The story-driven game features characters such as the influencer’s husband, Elias Bakhazi. Supplied

The story-driven game also features characters such as the influencer’s mother and her husband, Elias Bakhazi.

In order to advance, users are tasked with decorating Wazen’s home, playing wedding planner and styling her looks.

The new mobile game app, which was developed with NiM Games, is available in both Arabic and English.

It marks the mother-of-three’s first foray into the technology industry.

She follows in the footsteps of regional It-girls, who go by The Real Fouz, Model Roz and Noha Style Icon on Instagram, who featured in the free mobile app “StyleCity,” an iOS and Android role-playing game made by Dubai-based tech company Dubzplay, that launched in Jan 2020.