Friday, April 12, 2024

'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire' (2024)

A Godzilla x Kong poster on display at the theater. Photo by Brett Homenick.

"Welcome to my world..."

Last night, I finally was able to catch a screening of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024). To say that my expectations were rock bottom would be the understatement of the year. I didn't enjoy Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) at all and found all the praise it received at the time as a "fun" monster romp completely baffling. Still, I guess I'm obligated to see these things, so that's exactly what I did.

In short, Godzilla x Kong was silly, minor, and ... not terrible? I enjoyed it much more than I did Godzilla vs. Kong, and I'd probably consider it my second-favorite of the MonsterVerse (yes, with the capital "v" -- sorry, Wikizilla) series. (For those keeping score, 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters is still of my favorite.)

Maybe it was the low expectations, but the movie made me smile throughout. There were several fun moments, a couple of funny lines, some interesting action set pieces, and a satisfying ending. On a personal level, it was fun seeing Joker (2019) alum Brian Tyree Henry rattling off a bunch of Toho kaiju names. (I know, not the most objective reason in the world, but that was my genuine reaction.)

A random King Kong (1933) poster on display at the theater. Photo by Brett Homenick.

There were also some amusing needle drops. (I'm starting to sound like Patrick H. Willems over here.) When "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring started playing, I couldn't believe I was watching a Godzilla movie with that song in it -- in a good way. And that battle in the pyramids? Fun stuff!

Was the movie a total success? Definitely not. There wasn't enough Godzilla to my liking. The fight scenes seemed rush. There wasn't enough of a build to the inevitable team-up between the two titular characters. The non-Toho Titans were too generic and forgettable. I'm also not over the moon about the handling of Godzilla.  

But perhaps the film's biggest triumph was getting me interested in King Kong as a character. This is the first Kong flick since 1967 to get me even slightly invested in the pride of Skull Island. So I'll give director Adam Wingard credit where it's due.

A bit of a mixed bag, but Godzilla x Kong was a big improvement over the previous entry that literally almost put me to sleep. I'll go ahead and say it: Godzilla x Kong is a better time at the movies than Godzilla Minus One (2023). I'd still think so even if the director started bringing a plastic Tiamat toy with him everywhere he went.

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