Today: April 18, 2024

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

If there was ever a film that could encourage more critics to take notes during screenings, it is Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Putting together a thorough review of the film without the crutch of any thoughts written during viewing is a difficult task, because this is one of the most forgettable films in years. Even as I was leaving the cinema, I was struggling to recollect key points of the film. Not a good sign.

The fifth entry in the ‘MonsterVerse’, this bombastic sequel manages to be both brash and boring. Monster mayhem is certainly on full display, with Godzilla body-smashing Kong into the Great Pyramids before the two team up to twat another ape around in Rio, and all sorts of other geographical beastly carnage sprinkled throughout. And yet, it’s just so, so dull. People say, “it’s an action film about a big lizard and a big monkey, you shouldn’t expect a riveting narrative”, and on the one hand I can see their point. But on the other hand, when even the action is this uninvolving, there’s little left to enjoy.

The human cast do the best with what they’re given, but there’s only so much they can bring to their one-dimensional characters. Attempts at humour are cringe-inducingly insipid thanks to a mediocre script, with the few real chuckles reserved for the monsters – a sequence involving Kong using a smaller ape as a weapon is hilariously absurd, and a highlight of the film. But on the whole, the film feels strangely heartless. Audiences have complained about the use of AI in film for a number of valid reasons, but one argument I have seen is that AI-generated materials are soulless and have no emotional impact. I can’t see any evidence of AI tampering here, but I certainly don’t feel anything either. 

It would be foolish – albeit very easy – to compare Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire to last year’s masterful Godzilla Minus One. The films have so little in common beyond the titular beastie that comparing them would be bloody daft. Instead of comparing them, it is lovely to consider that such wildly different adaptations of Godzilla can co-exist so closely together in the multiplex, and cements the enduring legacy of the character 70 years since he first stomped onto the screen. Without directly comparing the two films, I will say that Minus One was one of the most emotionally charged, exciting, and character-driven blockbusters of recent years. 

Godzilla x Kong is a bland CGI monster slug-fest with boring characters in an increasingly preposterously convoluted universe. There is disappointingly little to recommend here, which is a shame – the previous MonsterVerse entries all had at least something going for them. Godzilla x Kong just takes everything these films have already done before, and does them again without any improvement. Arguably, it does them worse. It is tiresomely predictable and these diminishing returns don’t exactly inspire any confidence in a potential future for this franchise. 

Godzilla x Kong is a bland, soulless CGI fest that will hopefully sound the death knell for the MonsterVerse. 

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