Hollywood Review

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire Movie Review By BigMoviesCinema

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire Movie (2.5 / 5)

All of the joys and delights and embracing goofiness of a Kaiju film have been there, but that’s been undone by the human drama. You’re used to how stories work – so we don’t complain when the picture cuts away from Godzilla glowing-red with rage and radiation, to puny little humans talking about their feelings or whatever. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire magnifies the genre’s great weakness by turning the giant monsters as human as their human characters, and in so doing – adding such goofiness – makes the whole thing kind of enjoyable. What we get instead of this ecstatic experience of giant, alien beasts, of these forces of nature towering over all of humanity, and bowing all of Earth with every stride, is an action movie full of gigantic circus-trained animals. The one monster hero who feels like a monster is Godzilla – he is inevitable – Godzilla is our favourite radioactive Kaiju and he has been reduced to a lengthy cameo appearance, where he has almost nothing to do until the climax swings into gear.

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens

In the opening stretches, she sees Kong doing its daily grind: moping unhappily through its new domain like an unemployed bachelor, getting its teeth pulled, hunting for sustenance only to stumble into its cave a few minutes later and slump back down. The anthropomorphising is punched up even harder when a mini-Kong is introduced and the father-and-son dynamic between Kirby’s Kong and his new son is explored through charmingly cheesy scenes. Yet, in those initial moments, before the final-act of logic-smashing bullshit is unleashed, Kong pouts and she yearns for it to find other members of its species. And there’s also the Iwi girl Jia (played by Tian Jing), who missed her home in Hawaii and became a misfit within her new home at the Monarch base, living with her adopted mom (played by Rebecca Hall); those two characters’ yearnings are then mirrored in each other in a smart writing choice, and everything is then double-ruined because the film has decide to over-explicate that arc with gushing expository dialogue that’s as stupefyingly simplistic as everything else in the screenplay. Even when the camera veers away to keep the frame visually interesting, the characters have to ‘say’ something to us and it is always an info-dump of exposition laid on as thick as treacle. It’s frustrating not because the dumbing down condescends but because it’s the arrogance to think that their story is complicated enough that our stupid heads would need to be spoon-fed in such a strained manner. These are standard blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy concerns, sure, but a film’s MOST irredeemable aspect needs to be addressed here: Dan Stevens’ Trapper. No one in Glibert’s all-star cast is less bearable than Stevens – his Titan-veterinarian hippie bearman stereotype (who is also a streamer, but played by Brian Tyree Henry, not Stevens himself!) is instantly hateable because he’s so over-characterised and the film tries too hard to make him ‘cool’. Rock music! Fly skils! Chill vibes! Lez flirt with female lead! Air drum! They’ve done it all and, on every beat, we cross our fingers that some Hollow Earth creature will bite that smug perfume model’s head off in a jump-scare. It never does.

With all these problems you wondered what made the filmmakers believe that all these awful decisions were necessary. Perhaps they thought that if the Titan fights were sufficiently over-the-top then the audience was so enthused about the creature-vs-monster battles that goodish writing didn’t matter, so decided to go easy on themselves. If that’s the case, then the numbers balance out, it seemed, because a movie with gratuitously lavish brawls between the Titans is just what we came for. It would be a serious complaint if the film had sold us something less than we came for. Godzilla vs Kong gave us much more than we came for but a full-on WWE-style zero-gravity fight between two teams of Kaiju is a spectacular pay-off indeed. The last act of Godzilla vs Kong really turned on the Kaiju dial, but no sense of dread lingers by this point. Bruce Banner isn’t turning into the Hulk when Kong swells up to 125ft by ingesting nuclear sludge. That scene might have been forlorn in any film not about giant monsters. Expectations are low. Instead of menace, we get something unabashedly Titan-y versus Titan-y. The Monsterverse has embraced the silliness of its franchise at last, but has gone too far in doing so.

It is of course best watched with a few mates who all share a certain critical understanding of what is actually AWESOME about watching a giant gorilla suplex a giant lizard the height of a skyscraper, and then, like, two scenes later, man-thrust their metal arms together like Arnie and Carl Weathers in Predator, straight into a larger scale shroomstomp to get to… the REAL meat of the movie: the portion I went to be FORCED to endure plot and human characters in order to get to the ludicrous action set pieces. If that poem doesn’t do it for you, then I highly recommend the novel Gattaca.

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