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‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ review: Running out of steam

But with that zenith in the rearview mirror, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” has very little ground to cover, and it shows. The best stretches involve Kong moving across the landscape, Godzilla stomping on crushing things, and, of course, the inevitable final confrontation, which has a few surprises up its proverbial sleeves. Kong in particular seems to have no problem communicating without human language, and these long scenes are so fun to watch that it’s disappointing to return to humans.

Certainly, humans can play a fruitful role in these monster movies. The recent Japanese film “Godzilla Minus One,” produced for a fraction of the budget of “Godzilla x Kong” and winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, manages to combine the creature with genuine pathos and focus on the human cost of war, guilt and trauma. This also fits more with Godzilla’s origin, as a metaphor for Japanese generational trauma related to the atomic bomb. In 2004, in the New York Times, Terrence Rafferty succinctly described the monster as embodying “a society’s desire to appropriate its deepest tragedies, to assimilate them as elements of its historical identity.”

None of that is here. In fact, “Godzilla x Kong” is proof that the original plot has been lost entirely – a shame, in an age haunted by monsters that films can only hint at, climate catastrophe, destructive weapons and conflict geopolitics to a brutal and power-hungry authoritarianism. . There is no reflection here, not even space to contemplate what might lie beyond the literal. Beyond the main cast, the humans in this film exist only to be crushed like ants by falling debris and mangled buildings. They are consumable, but that doesn’t matter. The meaning of these films is not at all metaphorical. It’s a punch.

Warning: there’s a lot of guts in “Godzilla x Kong”, guts of mammals and reptiles torn in half, guts of sea monsters, guts in Technicolor, much more than I expected. They seem appropriate for a monster movie and aren’t disgusting enough to merit an R rating. But as I thought about my courage, I wondered one thing: When will anyone have the courage – the courage , one might say – to make a movie with Kong, Godzilla, and various other titans and monsters, and no humans at all? ?

Or maybe there’s a bigger question at stake: When will Hollywood have the courage to make a fun blockbuster like this that dares to acknowledge the real menacing monsters?

Godzilla x Kong: The New Kingdom
Rated PG-13 for destruction, some mild profanity and so, so much courage. Duration: 1h55. In theaters.

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