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  • Writer's pictureJamie

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

I think everyone has a built in gravitational pull to something that they don’t quite understand. Mine is Godzilla, I want to watch all the Godzilla, all the time, for no good reason because it has mostly been disappointments. With few exceptions and an understanding of what I’m signing myself up for of course. Unfortunately, this new installment, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is one I wanted to gravitationally pull myself away from. I know what to expect from one of these films, two acts of humans chatting and then a final 30 minutes of radiated explosions and giant monsters punching, kicking and tail whipping. This film follows almost exactly that structure but hits the cardinal sin of these films, kids. 

After Kong’s transportation to Middle Earth, we see him living a lonely but peaceful life amongst the vast nature and prehistoric predators that lurk around the lands. Meanwhile on the surface, Godzilla serves as Earth’s unlikely protector from other giant monsters threatening to take down cities like Rome. When the signal in Middle Earth begins to showcase some strange symbols, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), Trapper (Dan Stevens), Jia (Kaylee Hottle) and Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) head down to Middle Earth to investigate, while Godzilla seems to be getting busy on the surface, getting his affairs in order in preparation for “something”. 

Kong’s peril in Middle Earth comes from unexpected enemies that emerge from unexplored areas of the land, which manifest in ways that can only end in destruction of the highest degree. 

The film loses a lot in its focus on Kong’s story in the setting it’s in. Something special about these films is the scale they operate in, where you can feel the unimaginable heights that these two goliaths are against our puny buildings and lives. With so much focus on the monsters in this film, it does lose a little bit of that, making me think I was just watching Planet of the Apes on mute. 

I will say that the final fight sequence of the film does live up to the standard set by previous entries, but also lacks the stakes that some of the previous have established through their development of the human characters. 

Humans in these films are integral to grounding the action and not just making it a VFX showcase of brick physics. This film does try in parts to create a deeper dynamic, particularly with Ilene and Jia, where Ilena has adopted Jia to live with her. There was an opportunity here for an exploration of motherhood and a connection to Jia’s culture. However, Jia sort of serves as a pseudo Kong whisperer in parts while every other character is the “comic relief” with jokes that made me scrunch my face in cringe. 

The film looks very good, with high budget VFX paying off in the moments of fights and creation of Middle Earth. No, it doesn’t make a good film, but it certainly makes it more watchable when you see worlds created (or recreated) that can legitimately transport you into the film. There is obviously a lot of argument against such heavy use of CGI in cinema but I am so for it having a place within the artform. We are able to tell such massive stories with huge stakes, ones that previously couldn’t have been showcased as effectively. There are some drawbacks to this, I think the marketability of a strong story can come into play, leading to what we have, and this is why these big budget blockbusters usually let us down in the emotion department. 

The sound is always something I show up for with these types of films and I would say that my expectations were met with this film, we get roars and screams, bashes and bumps. All of them hitting me where they needed to. I did watch this with Dolby Atmos and would have loved a bit more of that intimating rumble within Godzilla’s roar but hey, I got enough and should be grateful, so I will be. 

Did this film change my life? No, but will I be first in line to see anything else from the Godzilla universe? Of course I will. I am not the right person to review this film because no matter how generationally bad they may be, I will more than likely have a nice time.


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