I’d Rather be Eaten by a Tree

The defense of Godzilla x Kong is that the Godzilla series descended into fantasy nonsense during the ’60s and ’70s under home studio Toho, and this Hollywood sequel pays homage to those surreal, often campy films. That defense fails to consider the Japanese films were victims of circumstance – TV eroded theatrical viewing, profits/budgets slipped, and the films degraded in quality. Note Godzilla x Kong cost some $135+ million.

Toho’s Japanese films were cultural explorations, even at their worst. Godzilla vs Hedorah spoke explicitly on climate change, while involving weird drug induced interstitial sequences. Godzilla’s Revenge explored growing industrialization, and how children were abandoned while their parents worked. 1974’s Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla dealt with the tenuous relationship between mainland Japan and Okinawa, an island ripped apart by WWII’s fighting. Godzilla x Kong, by comparison, exists because Marvel films do, and the American side of the Godzilla franchise is terrified of ever accepting Godzilla stands for something more than big monsters punching each other.

Godzilla x Kong fails because no one gets to see giant monsters, or at least, not at their most intimidating and awe-inspiring

There’s a secondary issue, in that the ’60s and ’70s brought intricate hand-made miniature landscapes to these films, a lost artistry that continues its organic appeal. Someone laid individual tiles on a tiny house that was likely seen for seconds on screen, if at all. The comparison is similar to that of, say, an expert carpenter’s hand made furniture versus an IKEA shelf – both continue to exist, but one has a bolder, more individualized style. Even at their weakest, with an obvious rubber suit running over a “forest” of stray branches and dirt, the creative team made an effort to make these monsters appear large.

Undoubtedly, the team behind Godzilla x Kong spent long hours animating and designing, an effort deserving acknowledgement, but the result is incoherent. With long sequences of talking apes in Hollow Earth, Godzilla x Kong could stand as a Planet of the Apes sequel, with no one any wiser as there’s zero sense of scale for much of this movie. That Godzilla is a giant monster means nothing when the camera doesn’t respect their gargantuan mass and the monsters move like Olympic athletes; it’s as if we’ve lost technique all together, even as the visual effects allow for any possibility (which seems to be the issue, but that’s another thing on its own).

For all of the supposed giant monster action, it’s utterly wasted on what may as well be human-sized creatures clashing. Even aiming for broad appeal, mass market entertainment, Godzilla x Kong fails because no one gets to see giant monsters, or at least, not at their most intimidating and awe-inspiring. To have a limitless opportunity to create something evocative, meaningful, and memorable with modern technology only to end up with Godzilla x Kong is a travesty.

The script isn’t written for creative purposes, to explore lore or deepen connections to human characters (which this series has decimated the longer it’s gone). Rather, it’s to seek free marketing in geeky headlines on YouTube or click-bating movie sites with ludicrous pre-release theories on why Kong now has a yellow glove, or why Godzilla sports pink spines, or who the mystery monster is, as if merchandising didn’t already spoil it. All of this, somehow, tries to legitimize the prior narrative, this after the breathtaking, dark, moody cinematography of Godzilla (2014) slowly eroded into what’s a kaleidoscope of color and anti-logic, all because audiences still think, “Godzilla is schlock.” Rather than correcting that, Warner plays into the misconception because it’s easier than dealing with the reality of nuclear fallout. Know who’s fault that is? Everyone involved in this now insipid American-based franchise.

Video

From a 4K source, the imagery is firm, sharp, and dazzling in texture. This goes for both human and CG elements, from facial definition on the cast to Kong’s fur. Everything appears clean, unobstructed, and clear. A fine digital grain barely makes an impact.

Splendid, deeply saturated color keeps the scenery lively, with an intensity and boldness that’s rare anymore in this era of digital grading. Dolby Vision makes the sun brilliant, and weird hollow earth lights vivid, to this format’s peak brightness. It’s all visual spectacle, loaded with depth thanks to the rich black levels.

Audio

Not shocking in the slightest, Godzilla x Kong’s Atmos mix doesn’t limit range. Beefy, thick, heavy bass greets every footstep or explosion. The depth and power is rare, although some discs do offer greater weight (the recent Dune 2, for one). That, however, is rare.

Marvelous Atmos effects work into the human scenes (overhead PA systems, for example) as much as the monsters darting across the screen. Flying creatures call in the overheads, helicopters pan around, and rear speakers rarely (if ever) get a second to relax. Balance respects dialog and doesn’t lose anything amid the action.

Extras

Director Adam Wingard provides a commentary. Nine featurettes follows, focusing on characters, Wingard, hollow earth, the monsters, and others.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Godzilla x Kong is worse than a disgrace, and sinks to previously unknown levels of awfulness.

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User Review
2 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 53 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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