the more Cong, the more Bong! (CRITICAL)

the more Cong the more Bong CRITICAL

80 million dollars generated in a single weekend in the United States, 45 million raised in China again over just 2/3 days, Godzilla X Kong New Empire is crushing the box office and literally doing better than Dune 2, especially since estimates predict very good international figures as soon as it is released everywhere else in the world. And yes, seeing titans smash each other’s faces on the big screen is quite simply the spectacle that many people were waiting for, especially since we remember that the Godzilla vs. Kong of 2021 was released in the middle of the COVID crisis and had deprived the film of a classic release in cinemas. Because in real life, seeing Kong with Thanos’ glove and Godzilla spitting pink nuclear sprays sums up our thinking well: the more Kong, the better!

Before throwing myself body and soul into my review of this Godzilla X Kong New Empire, I must contextualize my relationship with the franchise and the Kaiju monsters. We will start with the Godzilla of 2014, that of Gareth Edwards, who managed to relaunch the franchise with his vision as an auteur filmmaker. A strong proposition which allowed us to rediscover all the visceral and symbolic power of the original work, quite simply because it had kept the point of view of the human scale on the apocalyptic situations that the presence of a Kaiju is capable of generating. Something that Takashi Yamazaki’s Godzilla Minus One managed to masterfully transcend a few months ago, since it is quite simply the best Kaiju film ever made to date. Between heritage of the past and contemporary vision, this Godzilla Minus One had never so transcribed the nuclear power of each nuclear shower of the giant reptile. In the cinema, it was strong. And when we know that the film was made with a budget of less than 15 million dollars, one wonders what Hollywood does with all the money that is injected into each of its blockbusters… Of course also that Guillermo del Toro’s first Pacific Rim was a guilty pleasure. Even if I find major writing weaknesses in terms of its human characters, the Jaegers vs Kaiju fights were a real pleasure to follow, especially since the point of view of the human scale was also respected there. Something which unfortunately disappeared with the Godzilla vs Kong of 2021, where the completely uninteresting human story (help the unbearable performance of Millie Bobby Brown) took precedence over the confrontation between Godzilla and Kong. That was the real disillusionment. The final confrontation with MechaGodzilla worked quite well, although a little too short and above all, you had to wait until the end of the film to enjoy it.


And Adam Wingard understood that well for this Godzilla X Kong sequel. In three years of reflection, the filmmaker sorted out what worked and what didn’t work in the film. First thing: put fewer human characters, and especially remove the stars who took up too much screen time and who ultimately served no purpose to the story. And I know something about it, I watched the film the day before before seeing the sequel at Warner Bros. Pictures this morning. Because obviously, when you have Milly Bobby Brown, Eisa Gonzalez, Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall, well that screws up your basic point: namely the Kaijus. When we go to the cinema to see a film like Godzilla wants the screen to overflow with these titanic creatures. And that’s exactly what this film offers: fewer humans, more monsters and therefore more spectacle. From the first episode, only Rebecca Hall, her adopted daughter Jia (played by Kaylee Hottle) and Brian Tyree Henry who we also saw in Marvel’s The Eternals and Bullet Train remain, all the others have fallen by the wayside. And that’s good. There is, however, a newcomer Dan Stevens, who plays a slightly crazy veterinarian and whose character is quite cool. There is also Fala Chen who we saw in the role of Shang-Chi’s mother and who plays a specific role that I will not detail to avoid spoilers.

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All these protagonists less does not mean that the human story has disappeared, far from it, but let’s say that the relationship between the 1st and 2nd films has been reversed. In Godzilla vs. Kong, there were 70% humans and 30% titans. In Godzilla X Kong, it’s 30% humans and 70% kaijus. And what’s cool and quite obvious too, is that Adam Wingard really doesn’t give a damn about the story anymore. What interests him are the fights between these giant creatures and there again, you are going to get your money’s worth, because Kong and Godzilla will not be alone in this adventure, there will be a parade of adversaries each other tougher. From this point of view, the film is much more generous and if you go to the cinema to see big beasts, you will be served. Be careful though because once again, Godzilla is a secondary character in this sequel. We see him a little more than in the first, but very clearly, Kong is the star of the film. And in reality, it’s quite understandable, since it’s the one that will convey the most emotions, almost human I want to say. Already, because it is a gorilla, an animal close to man and simple gestures and a few looks are enough to tell something. We are using visual storytelling, almost universal, and it works very well.

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While Godzilla watches over the Earth by protecting its inhabitants from invasions by other Kaiju and having made the Colosseum in Rome his cozy nest, Kong travels through the Hollow Earth (or Hollow Earth in the original language), this area of ​​the Earth not yet cleared and which is home to giant and especially primitive creatures where gravity is often reversed. This is where the story will develop: trying to make us understand its gravity inversions and at the same time making us discover a new secret area where the people of Kong have taken refuge. Except that, as we saw in the trailers, this new tribe is led by a very nasty big ape, a certain Scar King, a mix between a monkey, a gorilla and an orangutan, who walks around with a sort of chain around his neck, made of an animal’s spine, at the end of which he placed a mysterious and powerful artifact. On the surface of the Earth, we find Dr. Ilene Andrews (played by Rebecca Hall) who is worried about violent earthquakes which are linked to Jia (who has become her adopted daughter in the meantime) and who materializes this with visions and designs over which she has no control. All these events are obviously linked, none of it makes sense, but in reality, we don’t really care, since everything is almost rushed, nothing is taken seriously and Adam Wingard has fun with this. pretext to offer us his vision of Kaiju 2024.

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Moreover, visually, it is very clean overall and above all quite homogeneous. There is no scene less strong than others, just an artistic choice which will not be unanimous, with these choices of bright, sometimes garish colors, but if we adhere to the proposition like me, it is good fun. We are clearly in a legacy of the films of the 90s where we didn’t bother too much with the stories in the actioners of the time. The CGI is of high quality, so Weta has worked really well, whether it is the modeling of the Titans or the environments which are rich, varied and react according to the power of our Titans. The only thing that has disappeared and I greatly regret it, is the relationship of scale with human beings. Aside from 3/4 scenes, we rarely see our Kaijus put in a human context, which means that we lose gigantism, which Gareth Edwars and Godzilla Minus One had managed to transpose to the screen. Well yes, as the film takes place 3/4 of the time in the Hollow Earth, we are on a standardized scale among the Titans. Sometimes, we will have some human monuments to remind us of the size of these monsters, like the fight in Cairo, in the middle of the Pyramids of Egypt, in Brazil also for the final fight, Rome of course and even in France. Because yes, there is a scene at home, in Montagnac itself, where people speak quickly in French. In any case, we travel in the film and this is also where the film is generous.

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Where Godzilla X Kong disappoints is in the way the two Titans are treated, in a very clearly unbalanced way. The poster and the trailers promised us that the two monsters teamed up against a central threat, this is the case yes, but at the end of the film once again. We have the impression of reliving the same structure as the first film of 2021, and that’s a shame. This time, there are two distinct plots: that of Kong and that of Godzilla. If the story around Kong is more or less worked, that of Godzilla has clearly been under-exploited and we have the impression that Adam Wingard doesn’t care a bit about the lizard. Throughout the entire film, he will literally spend his time looking for areas to recharge, whether in a nuclear power plant or in another kaiju’s hideout, hence the fact that he turns pink afterwards. Godzilla is clearly poorly exploited and like in the first film, he is only there for the final fight. It’s a shame, because there was a way to develop the relationship between the two Titans in a comical way, even by assuming the madness until the end.

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You understand, Godzilla X Kong is not a great film, and at no point does it claim to be. Adam Windgard’s peloche is there for the show, the entertainment, while trying to pay homage to the 90s, with some references in some of his scenes and the writing of his characters (the vet). And even if we have to start from the principle that we have to go see this film after having laid our brains on our bedside, the film could have gone further in its delirium, by assuming even more of its crazy and wtf side. In any case, the leitmotif of this sequel is clear: “fun” above all. For once, the film is fun, entertaining, very Kong too (in both senses of the words, you get it), and the more cong, the more it is bong, right?


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