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Monster spectacle

Monster spectacle

The film achieves balance with all the various elements at play.

Film: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Kaylee Hottle, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Alex Ferns, Fala Chen, Rachel House, Mercy Cornwall

Johnson Thomas

It has been a couple of years since ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ and the immediately satisfying but forgettable memories it evoked. ‘The New Empire’ is a colourful spectacle and also ape-centric. In this iteration of the franchise, we see Kong go from the Monarch base to Hollow Earth, searching for other members of his species. Godzilla, on the other hand, is seen resting in between clashes across the surface of the earth.

The premise here operates on a new threat to Hollow Earth, bringing the two powerful monster icons together in a fight to save their home, habitat and the world at large. It’s an enjoyable epic showdown, offering a smashing good time and meets the standards of what a monster flick should be. Much of it may be familiar sights we’ve seen before, but that’s not a negative.

The greater focus on Kong helps this entry surpass its predecessor as one of the better entries in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse franchise. Monster scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is back and tracking some anomalies emanating from the centre of the Earth. Adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the last surviving member of her Skull Island tribe, feels disturbed by the frequencies and blogger Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) happens to be the only one who can make sense of it. He apparently saved the world in the previous iteration.

Monster veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens) and gruff security honcho Mikael (Alex Ferns) are the others who make the expedition team to Hollow Earth.

The story builds up gradually and the momentum is well calibrated. The Kaiju moments are handled with a lot of love and care. The humans here are just assists. They don’t have a major role to play, yet they don’t get lost in the melee.

This film has the longest action runtime than any Kaiju film before it. And it’s not all confusing. It’s pretty much fun to watch gigantic, skyscraper-sized monsters punch each other really hard in the face and smash things to smithereens. The action has clarity and we are able to see the different monsters’ various abilities. There’s wit and whammy in most of the brawls orchestrated here.

Godzilla and Kong have to first fight it out before deciding to reunite for the greater cause. The slightly jumpy exposition notwithstanding, the jokes land better, the dialogues allow for worry and fear to creep in gradually and the dimensions separating characters allow for an in-depth glimpse into the magnitude of the problem.

What sets this film apart is the balance it achieves with all the various elements at play. It’s a spectacle but very humane in its depiction of survival.