Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Smackdowns and Surprises: Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

(L to r) GODZILLA and KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Release Date: March 29th,2024

Runtime: 115 mins

Rated: PG-13

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, and Fala Chen 

“If you smelllllll…. what the Kong is cookin’?!” Is the one phrase I would use to describe Kong in the highly anticipated monster movie Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire. When I tell you Kong was layin’ the smackdown, he seriously destroyed the other kaiju that showed up onscreen. Not to mention that Godzilla bursts on the scene like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, raising hell and kicking ass! Ok, enough wrestling puns, lol. This movie was filled with what you came for… action-packed monster fights. However, the film has more than just action and explosions; it also includes a compelling story for Kong.

King Kong

The best part of the film, and what I like about it most, is Kong’s story. The movie humanizes Kong even more than before. He is increasingly self-aware and can trust humans if he needs help with certain situations, like a toothache or an injury. This breakthrough is due to young Jia (played by Kaylee Hottle), the only survivor of the Iwi tribe from the first film, someone with whom Kong has a psychic link and trusts. Outside of his relationship with Jia, Kong develops a unique relationship with Suko aka “Baby Kong”, who makes an appearance in the trailer. Although Suko and his tribe mates try to kill Kong, Kong shows mercy and compassion to the youngling throughout their journey to Suko’s home, where we meet the main antagonist. This would play an important role later, as Kong acts as a big brother to Baby Kong and shows him how to be his own man… or rather, primate. After all, Kong longs for a family and others of his kind that he can bond with.

I also want to mention that his upgraded arm brace helped even the odds against all his adversaries, including an upgraded Godzilla.

SUKO in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Godzilla

I can’t say much about Godzilla in this film other than that he arrived…raised hell…and left. He did have some awesome fights and power upgrades, along with funny moments like sleeping inside the Roman Colosseum and, of course, his battle with Kong before becoming allies. This movie delivered Godzilla as expected, just a complete dominant force who is up for any challenge. Besides, what else would you expect from Godzilla after his performance in Godzilla: Minus One?

The Humans

Although the relationship between Dr. Ilene Andrews and her adopted daughter Jia was interesting, at times, their relationship felt forced. Nonetheless, Hottle’s performance was adorably heartwarming. Brian Tyree Henry, as Bernie Hayes, served as comedic relief, providing the same humor he did as the intelligent conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes. He did have some chemistry with a quirky, fun-loving veterinarian, Trapper, played by Dan Stevens.

I’d say the biggest drawback of the film is the exposition that occurs with the humans during the second and third acts. This was most surprising to me because the monsters’ non-verbal conversations gave more information and were more interesting than some of the conversations between the humans. I think if the writers and filmmakers utilized this approach more (more show, less tell), the film would have been even better.

BRIAN TYREE HENRY as Bernie in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The Bad and The Ugly

Trailers reveal the evil leader, a new villain named Scar: a giant orangutan. Scar was so cruel and vicious that he would kill anything in his way, including his primate followers. His first encounter with Kong reminded me of an old-school kung fu film because even though he takes an initial beating, he has something up his sleeve. He was so evil I enjoyed seeing him get punished in the final act.

His weapon of choice is a whip made of giant lizard vertebrae with a crystal at the end that controls one of the mightiest, biggest monsters, Shimo. The beast is so dangerous that he is said to have caused the first ice age. I will say that Shimo looks more like a Pokémon or a character from How to Train Your Dragon rather than something from the monsterverse of Godzilla and Kong. Shimo’s aggressive fight with Godzilla made up for it’s not threatening looks, as he was able to smack around the king of the monsters a few times.

The Visuals

In Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, the visuals remain stunning, maintaining the high standard set by its predecessor. Particularly captivating is the depiction of the Hollow Earth, which introduces viewers to a realm teeming with unique and mesmerizing creatures. As our characters journey through this subterranean expanse, they encounter a remarkable discovery of the enigmatic Iwi tribe. Nestled within the depths of Hollow Earth, this previously undiscovered civilization adds a layer of intrigue to the film, enriching the narrative with its mysterious presence. This leads to introducing a character that audiences may be familiar with and some who cherish as a favorite of the Godzilla catalog.

(L to r) GODZILLA and KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Conclusion

Is Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire better than the first Godzilla Vs. Kong? Not really. Successfully executing another great Godzilla movie makes for a tall task, especially after the blockbuster that was Godzilla: Minus One. The film had such a compelling story arc, making Godzilla the biggest jerk of 2023. All in all, the laughs are there, the visuals are stunning, and Baby Kong is an adorable side character; however, there are still a few areas of exposition that take away from the film. It is still an enjoyable feature that’s worth catching at an IMAX matinee. I give the film a 6/10.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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