GODZILLA X KONG is silly, ridiculous, fun for kids and parents

by Charles Gerian

“Wherever we go, whatever we do, we do it together. You are my home.”

This month saw the release of GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE which acts as a continuation of WB and Legendary’s “Monsterverse” franchise which includes 2 Godzilla films, 2016’s SKULL ISLAND, 2021’s GODZILLA VS KONG and now this climactic, infinitely silly, and hugely enjoyable team-up adventure.

Helmed by Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs Kong; Netflix’s Death Note) GODZILLA X KONG follows the events of the 2021 film where Kong is living a lonely life in The Hollow Earth, the Pandora-esque kingdom in the world beneath our own home to massive and dangerous flora and fauna. Every day is a struggle for Kong, whose age and solitary lifestyle are catching up with him.

On the surface, Godzilla is moving from one fight to the next to maintain control over his dominion, occasionally stopping to nap in the Roman Colleseum, curled up like a big atomic cat in a box.

Godzilla and Kong have a mutual understanding after their tentative alliance to defeat Mecha Godzilla in the previous film: Kong stays below the surface, Godzilla stays on top, no one gets hurt.

That is until the mute girl Jai, the adoptive daughter of the Monarch Organization’s resident Kong Expert Dr. Andrews, begins to have erratic visions of something she can’t explain. Jai is an Iwi, an indigenous of Kong’s former home of Skull Island, and something from the Hollow Earth is telling her that a terrible disaster is coming.

Dr. Andrews (Rebecca Hall), monster fanboy and podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), and eccentric Monster Doctor Trapper (Dan Stevens) take Jai on a journey to the Hollow Earth to discover that Kong is in danger, brought on by the rise of an evil ape called The Skar King, a distance relative of Kong’s once-thought-extinct species. Skar King and his ice-powered lizard Shimo are planning to take the surface world by storm…

…and our only hope is the unlikely alliance of Kong and Godzilla.

GODZILLA X KONG dispenses with the assumed niceties that WB and Legendary’s films have tried to follow. There’s no human drama, no “straight guy” lead, no discernible plot on the inner workings of the Titans and the shadowy Monarch Organization except snippets of background lore.

This film is wildly goofy from the jump. From Godzilla’s adorable nap spot in the aforementioned Colosseum to Kong getting a tooth pulled to the absolutely insane needle drops in the soundtrack which include KISS’s “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.

The film’s human characters are the always entertaining Brian Tyree Henry who earned the most consistent laughs in the audience as his Monsterverse mainstay podcaster since 2019’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, the concerned mother of Dr. Andrews (a welcoming return by Rebecca Hall who now seems fully aware of how much talent to apply to this role), and the newcomer Trapper which seems like an intentional reverse of the “Leading Men” in these movies.

While 2016’s SKULL ISLAND was largely dependent on the (fantastic) human cast, this is an element that the Godzilla movies, and “Godzilla vs Kong” struggled with. You had the brooding soldier of Aaron Taylor Johnson’s lead male in 2014’s GODZILLA, Kyle Chandler’s concerned and dull father in 2019’s KING OF THE MONSTERS, and Alexander Skarsgard’s sleepy and droll science man in GODZILLA VS KONG.

Here, the film casts Dan Stevens in the role he’s been born to play since his leading performance in FX”s short-lived X-Men spinoff LEGION in the late 2010’s. No longer forced to be a brooding straight man (Downton Abbey, The Guest, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast) his character Trapper is a Hawaiian shirt-wearing monster doctor who is played as silly as the description reads.

As a major King Kong fanboy (2005’s version by Peter Jackson is one of my favorite films ever) I was happy and surprised to see that GODZILLA x KONG plays more as a Kong solo film than anything else, and I won’t lie when I say that I actually teared up during one of the film’s biggest surprises which is the return of a certain winged creature.

While these monster movies have always played fast and loose with lore in the past, I found the decision to work Jai and the Skull Island indigenous into something more familiar to Godzilla fans was a creative choice that paid off excellently.

The action is fun and saturated, making this one of the more eye-pleasing beat-em-up movies in the monster saga. While Wingard never lives up to the art of Michael Dougherty’s 2019 KING OF THE MONSTERS, he brings his own flare to these titanic smackdowns that walks the fine line of fan service and genuinely engaging spectacle with this entry leaning more into the ridiculous than the awe-inspiring, which is absolutely in line with the movie’s tone.

GODZILLA X KONG is a fun, fun, fun popcorn movie that will keep your kids entertained and, hopefully, get a smile or two from the parents that are about to spend hundreds on the new toys that come from this.

GODZILLA X KONG is now playing at The Hub in Tonkawa and Ark City’s Cowley 8 Cinema.