June 9, 2024

GODZILLA X KONG Uses Every Crayon in the Box

2024 / 115 min
Review by Pepper the Poopy😽

When my daughter was old enough to do something with crayons besides eat them, we gave her the traditional box of 64 Crayolas. Whether using a coloring book or creating drawings of her own, she was hell-bent on including every color in the box for each picture (even the useless white one). 

Visually, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is like a museum tour of our four-year-old's artwork that used to cover the refrigerator…bright, vivid and full of every color imaginable. The palate on display in scenes depicting Hollow Earth (where much of this one takes place) makes the climactic Hong Kong showdown in Godzilla vs. Kong look as stark as The Seventh Seal. Even the big lizard himself becomes a rompin’ stompin’ mood ring when he grows increasingly irradiated. This garish aesthetic certainly reflects the overall tone of the movie. Depending on your age, that ain’t necessarily a bad thing

I suppose this was inevitable, being that the Monsterverse has certainly evolved from the comparatively “dark” days of Kong: Skull Island and 2014’s Godzilla. More than ever, GxK recalls the campy, kid-friendly Kaiju films of the 1960s, when Japan’s most popular monsters were superheroes with distinct personalities. Both Godzilla and Kong are more developed than any of the human characters, but considering characterization was never much of a priority in this franchise, perhaps that’s not saying much. Here, the two even provide much of the humor, such as Kong’s expressiveness and Godzilla adopting Rome’s Colosseum as a napping spot (like my cat when he claimed my sacred recliner as his own).

Godzilla gets a case of pinkeye.

The plot, of course, is another battle royal. After a fissure reveals an uncharted region of Hollow Earth, the world is threatened by an ancient tribe of giant apes led by the vicious Skar King, who rules through slavery and wields a staff that controls Shima, an ice-breathing reptile. Meanwhile on the surface, Godzilla senses an upcoming clash with another Titan and (destructively) begins fueling himself with radiation. Through the usual exposition by some obligatory human characters, we learn it was Godzilla who imprisoned Skar King in the first place. Since Kong can’t fight him alone, the two once again team-up, leading to a wild, mayhem-filled clash in Hollow Earth before spilling out to the surface, decimating cities & landmarks in the process.

Mothra herself makes a welcome return, while Rebecca Hall, Bryan Tyree Henry and Kaylee Hottle resume their thankless roles from Godzilla vs. Kong. They're joined by Dan Stevens as a devil-may-care veterinarian who enhances Kong's punching strength with a robotic arm. There’s also a subplot with Jia (Hottle) discovering the extinct Iwi tribe she once belonged to are actually thriving in Hollow Earth, a storyline that introduces some unwelcome (?) mysticism into the narrative. Then again, if we’re already able to accept a gravity-scrambling underworld, maybe throwing in magic and telepathy ain’t such a stretch. However, the arrival of Suko (“Mini Kong”) initially filled me with dread, and I was ready to rage quit if the little beast started speaking like Godzilla’s son did in a few 60s’ Toho flicks. Thank god that never happened.

All these asides are just placeholders for the Titan battles, which are typically epic, loud, destructive and over-the-top. The sequences where Rome, Egypt and Rio become collateral damage are a hell of a lot of fun, while the artifice of the anti-gravity fight in Hollow Earth pushes things further into cartoon territory…exacerbated by the use of every crayon on the production designer’s box. But hey, this is the direction the Monsterverse has been heading anyway. If nothing else, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire embraces its own inherent silliness without the pretense of being anything more than big, kid-friendly entertainment. 


FEATURETTES - GxK: Day of Reckoning is a look back at the entire franchise, with various comments from people involved, past & present; Evolution of the Titans is a two-part look at how the titular creatures have changed; Into the Hollow Earth is another two-parter about creating that world and its creatures; The Battles Royale is a three-part breakdown of the SFX behind the climactic clash (ad its three locations); The Intrepid Director is another two-parter focusing on director Adam Wingard (who’s apparently kind of a goofball); The Imagination Department features a look at pre-production art; The Monarch Island Base: Portal to Another World shows the conception of the base; The Evolution of Jia: From Orphan to Warrior is sort of ironic, since characterization is these movies is minimal and I never noticed Jia turning into a warrior; Bernie’s World: Behind the Triple Locked Door is an amusing look at his cluttered apartment.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Adam Wingard, FX supervisor Alessandro Ongaro, production designer Tom Hammock and editor Josh Schaeffer. 


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