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By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

A Clash between Titans!: ‘A Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Review

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ COURTESY OF WARNER BROS PICTURES

If you say that “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” isn’t the very definition of an epic Blockbuster, then I don’t know what is. With explosive action and set pieces, the audience is never bored whenever a monster is on the screen. This film, however, stands as the best of Warner Bros. Discovery MonsterVerse. 

The film gives the monsters a surprising amount of screen time compared to their earlier entries, and the extra time spent with the monsters is both a huge benefit and a huge hindrance to the pacing of the film. This movie can be all over the place. The plot constantly bounced back and forth between the monster’s stories and the humans. 

Some scenes went on for way too long. While I found myself excited whenever the camera would cut back to a long scene with Kong, I would also feel a strong sense of dread because I knew that I would be spending the next 20 minutes after this scene with just the human characters. While the human parts of the movie aren’t bad per se, it’s just less interesting than whatever Kong or Godzilla are doing.   

The story takes place two years after the events of “Godzilla vs. Kong” (2021), with the secret organization Monarch continuing to monitor and safeguard the titans; large beastly creatures that wander the earth and protect nature from human involvement. Our two main human characters are Jia and her adopted mother Dr. Ilene Andrews. The pair are currently having a hard time adapting to the world after the events that unfolded during “Godzilla vs. Kong.” When Godzilla starts to lose it and power up on energy, tensions around the world rise. While this is happening, Kong is endlessly searching for other apes like him. 

A Monarch outpost from inside Hollow Earth is destroyed, causing a team of scientists to go down and figure out what happened. Kong descends deeper into Hollow Earth and stumbles upon more apes like him. 

The fight scenes are where this movie is at its strongest. This film does a good job of highlighting the brutality of the world that these animals live in. From the very first time we see Kong running away from a pack of hyena monsters, we immediately understand that it’s a do-or-die world. Whenever the monsters kill one another it’s either just for food or defense. This interpretation of Kong is very different from past iterations. Gone are the days when Kong was just a basic ape that fell for the beauty of Ann Darrows. Kong now uses weapons and sets up traps. This Kong is extremely innovative and often shares a lot of emotion. 

The motion capture (mo-cap) for Kong allowed the visual effects team (VFX) to create a really good model for Kong. Kong’s interaction with the environment is extremely natural and honestly the effects overall are pretty good. The only times where the computer-generated imagery (CGI) was lacking was whenever Godzilla was stampeding through a city. But similar to “Godzilla Minus One,” I find this excusable because it’s still impressive what the VFX team was able to do with their relatively smaller budget. I know $135 million is a lot of money but it’s a lot smaller in comparison to the blockbuster movies of today.           

This film not only introduces other apes, but also a little baby ape. This ape is extremely adorable and was actually, in my opinion, a really good inclusion. In a world where franchises over rely on baby versions of popular characters in order to sell merchandise, this film doesn’t follow that criteria. While the baby ape is used heavily in the promos for this movie, he fits perfectly as a side character. The connection between Kong and the baby ape is very interesting and is performed really well.     

The big bad guy of the film, the Skar King, is a Kong size orangutan that rules over the other Kongs. The Skar King’s intro probably stands as my personal favorite scene in the movie. Adam Wingard is very good at directing character establishing scenes. The way we see Skar King emerge from his throne of shadows is pretty terrifying. This scene is made even better with the fight between Kong and Skar King. This scene takes you into what I personally believe is the biggest flaw in the movie. I think that they should have made Skar King a lot bigger. Orangutan’s are massive creatures and while I get what they were going for, it would have been more interesting had Skar King been larger.. 

This film has awesome, but weird, exposition dumps. While exposition can be extremely helpful for the viewer to understand how the world works, the exposition for each major moment was timed after it had already occurred; we learn who Skar King is after he fights Kong for the first time. I am an avid supporter of the show and I understand why they needed to tell us who Skar King is, but the exposition should have been put first instead of the fight. 

But wait! What about Godzilla? Don’t worry, the movie forgot about him too. Despite being in the title of the movie, Godzilla is barely in it. The recurring trend in these past movies seems to be putting Godzilla in the background. While this has worked really well for films like “Godzilla Minus One,” where Godzilla serves as an allegory for post nuclear fallout, ]in this movie you just end up wishing that you saw more of him. And while this trend does fall in line with what Adam Wingard is going for, using a sort of anti-hero persona similar to the one used in the 70s Godzilla films, it just doesn’t really work for this movie. But that won’t stop you from getting excited whenever Godzillas are on screen. 

Overall, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” stands as a triumph for Godzilla and King Kong fans. This film is the antithesis of your inner fourth-grade self and it’s an absolute blast from start to finish. And with that “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” gets three and a half potatoes out of five. 

For more reviews follow me @sensai_movieman

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