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  • Nate Adams

'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire' review: The mighty have fallen in dreadful monster mash-up


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Taking away the hook of what made “Godzilla Vs. Kong” somewhat engaging, Adam Wingard’s follow-up forgoes a clash of titans in favor of a convoluted sequel that features poorly rendered CGI which, blown on up on an IMAX-sized screen, show’s just how far the mighty have fallen. Perhaps we were spoiled when “Godzilla Minus One,” a Japanese import from Toho studios that took the radioactive lizard to soaring new highs, reinvigorated interest in a character who has headlined 30+ movies over the last three decades. Alas, “Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire,” is a digital slugfest without much punch or emotional levity. The human characters, especially poor Rebecca Hall, are used for no other purpose than to exposition dump and are completely ineffective to the plot. Something “Minus One” did not struggle with. 

 

Ditching the “vs” in the title all but confirmed we weren’t going to see the two prominent poster children in the “MonsterVerse” saga duke it out for total supremacy, which means there must be something worthy enough for them to emerge from Hollow Earth, a sanctuary they roam freely. But doing this means establishing a framework of lore and mythology that becomes so entangled within itself, the movie becomes vapor. A passing mist that evaporates as soon as it enters your eyeballs. 

 

It sees scientist IIene Andrews (Hall) and her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who can communicate with Kong, unearth a disturbance deep into the surface of Hollow Earth with no real explanation as to why, but it’s probably got something to do with the fact Kong has been going bananas and Godzilla is being lured to various landmarks around the world. Trying to solve the issue, IIene enlists conspiracy podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry – once again demoted to being the token comedic relief) and monster veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens – sporting a Hawaiian shirt and about the only beacon of enjoyment in this mostly joyless affair) to traverse into the unknown realms of the artificial planet in the hopes of understanding what’s got these titans all wound up. 

 

Turns out, Kong isn’t the only giant ape alive and, though we hear a narration about his constant search for long lost relatives and the need for companionship, the ones he stumbles upon are, uh, not very nice, and they serve a leader known as The Scarking, who also happens to conveniently imprison a Godzilla-like creature for reasons Hall explains in one of those mind boggling exposition monologues. Of which there are many. Don’t even think about keeping up.

 

So, with conventional human characters (we didn’t even really discuss the forced mother-daughter relationship nor the cheesy jokes) and lame special effects, “Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire” sinks the franchise to new lows. A stoic, monster-mash-up that has buckets of destruction, some of historical landmarks in Rome, Cairo, and Rio de Janeiro, and not a single ounce of imagination. Perhaps these two behemoths need to sit down and work out their differences, so we don’t have to be subjected to another bloated action-adventure that’s got no sense of purpose. 

 

Grade: D+ 

 

GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE is now playing in theaters. 


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