“GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE”
Starring Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle
Screenplay by Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater
Story by Terry Rossio, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
Directed by Adam Wingard

By Matt Neufeld
March 28, 2024

“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is god-awful.

“Godzilla x Kong…,” the latest grade-Z creature-feature monster movie featuring, well, Godzilla and King Kong, is tired, dumb, unoriginal, loud, even louder, annoying, irritating, boring, obnoxious, stupid, cliched, more cliched and even more cliched. It’s an awful movie.

Justifying everyone’s instant suspicions, it’s indeed true: The world did not need another movie with Godzilla, and the world did not need another movie with King Kong.

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

Please–do yourself a big favor this weekend and do not waste your time or money on this crappy movie. If you want to go to the movies this weekend–“Godzilla…” opens everywhere on Friday, March 29, 2024–be smart and go see one of the many high-quality, intelligent films that were rightfully nominated for, and rightfully won, Academy Awards for 2023. That would actually be a good, productive use of your time and money.

But avoid, at all box office costs, this dunderheaded “Godzilla x Kong” filmic monstrosity.

How does “Godzilla…” fail? On just about every filmic level: Overall production, as the film is over-produced, over-done, bombastic and thunderingly in-your-face to the point of barely registering as anything but a pounding, deafening array of noise, clatter, clutter, clinking, fights and special effects; the direction, which is amazingly surface, basic, cliched, uninspired and wholly lacking in decent, normal filmic pacing, timing, subtlety, style, grace or even dignity; the story, script, plot, subplots, dialogue, meaning, purpose and messages, all of which are deeply buried beneath an avalanche of stolen, tired and horrendously embarrassing mountain of old ideas, obvious cliches and long-overused corny and campy characters, dialogue lines, plot points and storylines; and the acting, which is embarrassingly amateurish, one-dimensional, corny and campy, cliched, and bizarrely lacking in anything resembling energy, character development, chemistry or even relatability.

The only standout element in the creative process of this monstrous monster movie meltdown mess is, as usual with these types of modern-day creature feature monster movies, the actually excellent, stirring, impressive and notable special effects. The effects, as usual the result of very long, tireless, detailed and creative months of tedious work by a talented army of special, visual and computer artists, is dazzling. However, as we’ve learned through decades of watching bad science-fiction, fantasy, horror and supernatural movies, and as we’ve especially seen and re-learned during the past twenty years with the endless endgame assault of far too many average- to below-average comic book and superhero movies, an array of special effects, no matter their quality level or degree of dazzlement, simply do not make a good movie.

A few somewhat-insightful film producers and directors know this. But in a pathetic continual vicious loop of money-grabbing and money-grubbing for easy box office bucks and easy, associated tie-in merchandising rights and additional blood-money bucks, many of these devious, shameless and greedy corporate suits continue to say the hell with real filmmaking and continue to churn out and spew out subpar empty-content and empty-headed drecky grade-Z movies front-loaded and back-loaded with so many big-budget and realistic modern-day, high-tech special effects, the prevailing thought is that sucker-punched, sensory-overloaded and intelligence-deprived filmgoers will be so gobsmacked by the big-screen effects, they’ll conveniently forget that there’s not really much else up on the screen alongside all of that post-production wizardry.

And, thus, this is what we’ve been dealt during the last twenty years with that array of effects-overloaded movies. And judgment day has finally arrived, as the film faithful have finally revolted in recent years, staying away in disappointed, despairing droves from recent boring, amateurish, effects-loaded generally below-average science-fiction, fantasy, horror, comic book, superhero, monster and supernatural movies, leading to a continuing, current crisis management mode in Hollywood.

Anxious, nervous film executives who are wringing their hands, downing stiff drinks all day and popping anti-anxiety pills should have heeded an inverse, flipped warning and twist to one of their own industry’s most famous lines–if you don’t build it, and don’t build on and beyond it, they won’t come.

Thus, amid the general clutter and din, we get five average to below-average, equally horrendously-cliched and equally generally-moronic—-and completely unneeded—-amateurish monster movies from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. during the last ten years, all of them somehow featuring Godzilla and King Kong. None of the five movies are good movies. All of them feature those aforementioned dazzling special effects. Nowhere in any of these films have producers, directors and writers managed to merge those quality special effects with equally-quality production, direction, acting and writing. It’s enough to make even Godzilla and King Kong cry. CGI tears, of course.

The guilty parties are: “Godzilla,” 2014; “Kong: Skull Island,” 2017; “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” 2019; “Godzilla vs. Kong,” 2021; and now, alas, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” Really. We’re not making any of this up, to steal from Dave Barry.

Sigh.

With films this bad, you can often see some of the dire warning signs in advance. First, bad movie titles. Often, if the title is stupid, the movie likely is stupid, too. Get this: With “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” Legendary and Warner Bros. actually put out one of the more alarming and ridiculous press releases in recent film times: The studios actually said that the “x” in the film’s title should not actually be pronounced out loud, and that the film should be stated on air or in person as “Godzilla Kong: The New Empire.” Really. We are not making this up, either.

So the pressing question is: If the “x” in the title of the movie “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is not supposed to be pronounced—-then why on earth is that “x” even in the title of the movie? This is, simply, moronic.

Another warning sign is the always-lame and always-pathetic marketing gimmick of cross-pollinating familiar movie characters, creatures, monsters or other things and pairing them together in one new movie. You know, like Freddy and Jason; Alien and Predator; Hope and Crosby. This rarely works.

In the new Godzilla/King Kong buddy bromance picture, ol’ ‘Zilla and ol’ King team up to fight an army of subterranean mean-spirited enslaved Kongs being bullied by an equally mean-spirited psychopathic dictator who yields a razor-sharp bony sword/whip weapon and who controls a particularly nasty evil giant lizard dragon creature that spews deadly ice and cold air that causes frostbite and death to those on the receiving end –you know, just like the villains in the current “Ghostbuster” sequel that’s in the theaters right now and just like
Mr. Freeze in that trippy “Batman and Robin” movie. Meanwhile, a dedicated, brilliant scientist who also just happens to be model-beautiful; a deaf beautiful mystical nature-relating teen girl warrior who is apparently the last of her kind and who of course has some special telepathic sixth-sense bond with King Kong, but, alas, not with Godzilla; an annoying pseudo-hippie-ish tech-nerd-geek doofus who wears an open tacky Hawaiian shirt to lamely symbolize his achingly desperate non-conformist demeanor; a repressed pseudo-macho testosterone-challenged jarhead military-poseur jackass who crazily flies an Avengers-style plane and screams and yells at everyone for no sane reason; and a dangerously emotionally-stunted, socially-blunted and mentally-confused social-media-computer-website-internets-podcasting-blogging-texting-cellphone tech nerd-geek WALKING CLICHE idiot all board that Avengers-style jet thing filled with more computer lights than any plane in fantasy history and journey to the center of the earth–which is unbelievably called Hollow Earth–to find King Kong and subsequently help King and his new best bud Zilla fight the ape psycho and the ice-breathing lizard dragon thing to, naturally, save the Earth, the galaxy and the universe from impending apocalyptic doom, gloom, end times, and, probably, the rapture, too. Meanwhile, for some reason, everyone’s favorite scary giant-sized moth, conveniently named Mothra, seems to crash the party from some type of moth hibernation to, well, do something that’s not really clear. Also meanwhile, Kong discovers that he’s not the last of his race and the girl warrior discovers she’s not the last of her kind and the girl’s indigenous people live underground, generally don’t speak and they communicate telepathically–you know, just like the creepazoid underground nutball freaks in the incomparably bizarro “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” Somewhere amid all of this, for no real clear particular reason, Badfinger’s “Day After Day,” Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” and Kiss’ “I Was Made For Loving You” appear in soundtrack cameo snippets that serve no purpose, don’t fit in any way and don’t make any sense. The movie’s endless strange parade of cliches, stolen from about literally 1,000 previous movies, pile up by the second. In the end, after the requisite monster fights and noise and special effects have ended, thank the heavens, Godzilla, after casually destroying about half of Rome and a couple of ancient Egyptian pyramids as if it was just another day at the Worldwide Creature Destruction Office, Godzilla calmly returns to Rome, lies down in the ancient Coliseum and appears to take an afternoon nap.

I promise you, we’re not making up any of this.

It’s just all so insipid, so tired, so cliched (I was going to list all of the cliches in this movie, but we just don’t have the space or the time), so noisy, so moronic, it’s as if Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, M. Night Shyamalan and Quentin Tarantino got together, ingested some legal hallucinogens, watched five-hundred bad B-movies, took detailed notes and then decided to put as many cliches from those cliched movies into this one, just for kicks and just to irritate fans of quality, intelligent films.

It’s far past the eternal bedtime, endtime and endgame for Godzilla, King Kong, Mothra–and bad creature feature monster movies like “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” Oops—-I mean “Godzilla Kong: The New Empire.”

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

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Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld is a longtime journalist, actor and film critic in the Washington and Baltimore areas. He has participated in many local film events and projects in the region, and he has appeared as an actor, supporting actor and extra in more than 45 films projects, at all levels, during the past 20 years.