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Godzilla X Kong The New Empire Review: A Showa Era Throwback That Fans Will Love!

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In an era where cinematic universes have become the bread and butter of Hollywood’s output, Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” stomps into theaters with the subtlety of a Kaiju tail-whip. The latest entry in the now sprawling Monsterverse eschews quiet moments of contemplation for the cacophony of colossal creatures clashing, much to the delight of fans who, let’s face it, are here for the spectacle rather than the screenplay (we’ve given up that he can deliver both, like Takashi Yamazaki did in “Godzilla Minus One.” As these titanic forces of nature collide in a riot of color and sound, Wingard seems to acknowledge that in this cinematic chess game, the pieces are skyscraper-sized and the board is our planet.

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“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” opens with a scene that succinctly captures the film’s ethos: Godzilla, reimagined as the world’s largest and least considerate tourist, is wreaking havoc across Europe with the Colosseum as his lodging of choice. Meanwhile, Kong sulks in the bowels of Hollow Earth, nursing an abscessed tooth and the blues. It’s a bold juxtaposition that sets the stage for what is to come: a film that knows its audience is here for the headliners, and it’s not about to let narrative complexity get in the way of delivering what it promises.

Wingard, returning after his stint on the franchise’s previous installment, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” ramps up everything. The visual effects, already a high point of these films, have been given a kaleidoscopic upgrade, painting the screen with a palette that feels at once apocalyptic and vibrant. The Titans themselves have never looked better, from Godzilla’s rampaging romp through Rome to Kong’s melancholic meandering through a lushly realized Hollow Earth. This world is a visual feast, thanks to the cutting-edge technology at the filmmakers’ disposal and their willingness to push it to its limits.

However, in its quest to outdo itself, “The New Empire” often forgets the human element that has grounded the best of its genre. The film is populated with returning characters, such as Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), who find themselves once again overshadowed by their gargantuan co-stars. Newcomer Dan Stevens as Trapper, a Titan veterinarian, brings a refreshing quirkiness to the proceedings, but even his charm is not enough to make the human storylines feel anything but perfunctory. The movie seems to acknowledge this imbalance, with Stevens’ character humorously noting that audiences are really here for “the two main guys,” underscoring the film’s self-awareness about its own spectacle-over-substance approach.

Yet, it’s not all monster mash and no matter. “Godzilla x Kong” finds moments of innovation within its own formula. The decision to give Godzilla a vibrant pink glow during a climactic battle is a visually arresting choice that adds a dash of whimsy to the destruction. Similarly, Kong’s storyline in Hollow Earth, complete with a psychic connection to a young girl who can communicate with him through sign language, hints at a deeper narrative potential, exploring themes of loneliness, communication, and belonging.

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The film’s exploration of these themes, however, feels like a road not taken. The narrative potential of Kong’s quest for a sense of home and Godzilla’s uncharacteristic behavior is largely unexplored, lost in the shuffle of setting up the next titanic tussle. This is perhaps the film’s greatest misstep: in its eagerness to deliver action and spectacle, it neglects the opportunity to deepen the mythology and emotional resonance of its universe.

In the end, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” delivers exactly what it promises: a fun, frenetic, and visually spectacular entry into the Monsterverse that will thrill fans of the franchise and leave casual viewers entertained, if not entirely engaged. Wingard’s latest is a popcorn movie in the truest sense, demanding little from its audience but their awe and occasional laughter. While it may not reach the heights of “Godzilla Minus One,” the film is an undeniably entertaining ride that knows its strengths and plays to them without apology.

RATING: 3.0 out of 5.0

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is in theaters March 29th, 2024.

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2 Responses

  1. Ralph Aspernat says:

    wish we had more zilla in our zilla movie

  2. Speedwell says:

    Love the Showa era and this felt like a trip back for sure. gonna watch it again!

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