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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion) • Monster Zero x SciFi Japan - Archive Only

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion)

This is the place to discuss Legendary Pictures' Godzilla film and upcoming sequels, as well as Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong!! Let everyone know what you think and discuss your thoughts and ideas about the upcoming films!!!!

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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion)

Postby lhb412 » Thu Mar 28, 2024 9:19 pm

Just saw it aaaaand... yeah, it's fine. Lightweight, goofy and about the same quality of its immediate predecessor. Lacks the immediate appeal of the Godzilla vs. Kong showdown, but also keeps the Whedonesque patter and needless plot convulutions to a minimum (still there, though), so win-some, loose-some. It's got basically about as much human plot intrigue as a 70 minute theatrical special for a toku hero show.

Ironically, my favorite thing about the movie was the thing I was least enthusiastic about going into it: the Skar King. What's a big deal about a big orangutan? But in practice this preening, Mick Jagger-like ape who enjoys needless cruelty is... well, he's a lot of fun. He should be in the movie more!

The monsters lack scale and weight. Godzilla's role in the plot is the heavy artillery who's brought in when things get real, but he doesn't really shine much aside from a few scenes of him napping (he is just a big cat after all!). Mothra's a McGuffin who nonetheless comes off better than in KOTM (at least you can see her this time). The highlights of the movie are all the likeable character bits from Kong as he interacts with various potential friends and enemies and the aforementioned dasterdlyness of the Skar King.

In short; Shin Ultraman? Godzilla Minus One? Those are four-course meals. Godzilla x Kong? It's an ice cream cone. Go into it with that expectation and you should have a good time.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Dai » Fri Mar 29, 2024 12:12 pm

I thought this after the first trailer, but the full movie all but confirmed my suspicions: this probably started as the Son of Kong concept that Wingard was talking about after GvK came out, and had Godzilla retrofitted into it during a later script draft. Kong has easily triple the screentime of Godzilla and is at the centre of the ongoing plot throughout. The main human characters are conspicuously never anywhere near Godzilla, except one scene near the end when Kong is there too. Godzilla spends almost the entire movie off doing a Rocky training montage, isolated from the plot's other moving parts. Consequently, we end up with three plotlines running in parallel (Kong/humans/Godzilla) and with surprisingly little interaction between them in places, which made the middle of the movie sag. Despite all that, the theatrical cut of GxK ironically feels smoother than its predecessor. There's none of the, "Wait, so is that guy Serizawa's son or what?" factor that pointed to swathes of GvK hitting the cutting room floor.

The movie was worth seeing for the action though. I enjoyed the unpredictability the Hollow Earth portals leant, allowing kaiju to pop up anywhere on the surface at a moment's notice. Godzilla and Kong trashing the pyramids was a memorable moment. I was glad that we got a decent amount of city destruction. The zero-G fight has to join the ranks of most insane Godzilla scenes. Skar King had more personality than I expected, though he ultimately wasn't much of a fighter once he lost his whip and pet icezilla. As for Shino, it was pretty much a one-trick pony, acting as an almost stationary ice cannon much of the time.

As a Godzilla movie, it's mid-table. As a Kong movie, it's one of the better ones.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Kailem » Fri Mar 29, 2024 1:03 pm

Just got back from it, and yeah I really enjoyed it! It's a fun, silly time that very much evokes those late Showa-era vibes with its colourful goofiness and "just go with it" mentality (though sometimes maybe a bit *too* much of the latter).

I think I'd rank it below Godzilla vs Kong, mostly due to this one feeling very back-loaded, with most of the main action feeling like it came towards the end of the movie. Thankfully we still get some cool bite-sized scenes of monster action throughout, with Godzilla dispatching various Monsterverse beasts and some lengthier scenes with Kong. For sure one of my favourite things about it are the times when it just gives us straight-up monster (mostly Kong) scenes with zero humans or dialogue of any kind for quite a while, relying purely on the action and characters to tell the story. It's something I've seen people complaining about wanting for years, not just with these movies but others like Transformers as well where you also have big SFX "creatures" sharing the screen with their often less interesting human counterparts, and it was cool that GxK actually delivered that, and did it well, too. The scenes where Kong first gets ambushed by the apes and then when what's-his-face (Shoko or something?) leads him to the lake to get ambushed were both great, especially with the latter having a direct nod to the original 1933 Kong with the serpent creature wrapping itself around Kong's neck.

And given that the trailer basically confirmed we were getting a "Son of Kong"-type situation with him, I did like how he started out as a total dick and Kong had to win him over. That was different to how I expected that relationship to play out, and I think it was for the better.

Indeed one of the reasons I enjoyed those scenes so much was because the human characters were once again....as you'd expect. It's long been a pet peeve of mine when these big blockbustery crowd-pleasers have their comic relief characters just *always* acting over-the-top, so even though it wasn't unexpected, it was still....eh. I was also reminded of that one bit from Ben Affleck's commentary track for Armageddon when it came to Jia being the only one who could awaken Mothra. :lol:

"We need Jia to awaken Mothra!"
"Why do you need Jia?"
"Because she's the best!"
"Why is she the best?"
"I don't know, she just is!"

Definitely one of those "just roll with it, I guess!" moments, for sure.

I also thought Skar King could have done with more screen time, because he was a really cool monster in what we did get of him. Perhaps if he'd been introduced a bit earlier and positioned as the main antagonist from the get-go rather than the halfway mark it might have been better, but either way I liked what we go. Shimo was unexpected in that I didn't think she'd turn out to be basically an unwilling combatant under the Skar King's control. I guess even though marketing images kept leaking all over the internet from every damn toy, beverage and promotional tie-in the movie has, at least *that* aspect of her I didn't manage to have spoiled ahead of time (though I did see a thumbnail of her in chains on Youtube the other week; thanks, JoBlo!).

I did find it funny how it felt like 90% of Godzilla's side of the story was basically just an excuse for Adam Wingard to slim down the design, which he's been very vocal about in the past as not totally loving. It was very much a Kong story, as was GvK, with Godzilla only really showing up in a meaningful way towards the end. Which again, I kinda would have liked it if their team-up had happened earlier, and we'd gotten to see a bit more of this supposed "Lethal Weapon"-style partnership that had been mentioned by Wingard beforehand actually play out, with them not entirely loving that they had to work together to overcome a common threat. I did like their first meeting at the pyramids, with Godzilla just laying into a reluctant Kong who then had to try knocking some sense into him before Godzilla turned the tables. But then once Deus Ex Mothra showed up they were just fully cool with each other, which I feel was maybe a bit of missed potential.

I did love the "Rampage: World Tour" feel of the movie though, with Godzilla showing up in various countries and trashing some global landmarks. That's something I'll always love seeing in these kinds of films. And yeah, the presence of all those giant crystals in the Hollow Earth certainly lends credence to the word that apparently Space Godzilla was planned to be included at an early stage before being changed to the new monster Shimo. But hey, apparently Adam Wingard said recently that he'd got ideas for a sequel if this does well at the box office, which it seems like it's currently on course to. So maybe those crystals will play a bigger role in that one after all!

So yeah, some pacing issues, an unmemorable score (though I think the musical choices grated with me more this time than they did in GvK), the same level of human characters that we've come to expect from these films and some awesome monster action ultimately meant I had an enjoyable time!

[quote="Dai"]I thought this after the first trailer, but the full movie all but confirmed my suspicions: this probably started as the Son of Kong concept that Wingard was talking about after GvK came out, and had Godzilla retrofitted into it during a later script draft. Kong has easily triple the screentime of Godzilla and is at the centre of the ongoing plot throughout. The main human characters are conspicuously never anywhere near Godzilla, except one scene near the end when Kong is there too. Godzilla spends almost the entire movie off doing a Rocky training montage, isolated from the plot's other moving parts. Consequently, we end up with three plotlines running in parallel (Kong/humans/Godzilla) and with surprisingly little interaction between them in places, which made the middle of the movie sag. Despite all that, the theatrical cut of GxK ironically feels smoother than its predecessor. There's none of the, "Wait, so is that guy Serizawa's son or what?" factor that pointed to swathes of GvK hitting the cutting room floor.[/quote]

I could definitely see that being the case. I think Son of Kong would have been the obvious way to continue the Monsterverse if Toho hadn't re-upped their contract with Legendary after GvK, even if only for a little while if they'd decided to take their time making up their minds about it. You could pretty easily cut Godzilla and Shimmy-Shimmy Ya out of the movie and not a whole lot would have changed, except for maybe the reasoning for why they needed to send out the signal to get Jia down there.

Though frankly even in the finished movie that reason pretty much just amounts to "....because!"
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Dai » Fri Mar 29, 2024 6:47 pm

Yeah, I feel they missed a trick with why Jia was Mothra's alarm clock. When the Iwi leader appears and we don't see her face for a long time, I was convinced she would look identical to Jia. Sure, needing identical twins to wake Mothra would still amount to "because", but at least it would have resonated with old-school lore.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Kailem » Sat Mar 30, 2024 11:44 am

Yeah same. I figured the whole point of initially keeping her in silhouette and doing a reveal was that she was going to look like a slightly older Jia, but it was just like "oh, she's just.....someone." It felt like maybe that was the idea they were going for initially but scrapped it because regular audiences who were unfamiliar with Godzilla's history might have been confused. Not that they couldn't have *explained* it in the movie and it at least would have given them more justification for why they needed Jia specifically to awaken Mothra, but still.

Another thing I found out yesterday after finally being able to look stuff up about the movie without fear of spoilers lends even more credence to your theory that this was initially developed as a Son of Kong-style movie that would have been largely the same as what we got if Toho hadn't allowed them to use Godzilla and Mothra for it, Dai. Apparently during production they were going to have Mothra's role be played by a new, winged monster called "Fosphera" that looks (from images of it that leaked at some point) and sure as hell *sounds* like a blatant Mothra stand-in. You can even see the "Fosphera" version of the mural that was changed to Mothra's in the film in one of Brian Tyree Henry's publicity interviews.

So yeah, I'm definitely convinced they developed this as a Kong movie primarily in such a way that they could either add or remove Godzilla and Mothra depending on whether or not Toho re-upped their contract with Legendary.

In which case if they *hadn't* we would have gotten "why does Fosphera need an Iwi from Skull Island to wake her up? Because!" :lol:
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Benjamin Haines » Sat Mar 30, 2024 12:17 pm

I haven't seen this yet but I haven't bothered to avoid spoilers at all. I'm glad that Suko, Skar King and Shimo all seem to be making a good impression.

My first thought when I read the leaked plot synopsis last May was that it was essentially the premise of X-Men: Apocalypse with giant monsters. (Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't seen that flick.) An ancient villain who was sealed away long ago reawakens (Apocalypse/Skar King), commands a team of brutes (the four horsemen/giant ape army) and uses his most powerful recruit (Magneto/Shimo) to wreak mayhem on the planet trying to take it over, facing off with a team of heroes (the X-Men/Godzilla & Kong) until the villain's most powerful recruit turns on him and joins the heroes to defeat him.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby lhb412 » Tue Apr 02, 2024 7:49 pm

You know, I would say that Godzilla drastically overprepared for this battle since he spends most of the plot powering up - but in his defense; he thought he'd be taking on an entire ape army plus Shimo by himself, and didn't forsee he'd be teaming up with Kong with Mothra running interference!
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Benjamin Haines » Thu Apr 18, 2024 11:19 pm

I finally saw Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire last week and I really liked it! It continues every trend of the MonsterVerse movies for better and for worse but I think the good outweighs the bad.

Whereas each prior MonsterVerse entry had its own distinct tone and style, this movie is very much cut from the same cloth as Godzilla vs. Kong but the writing and the overall story structure are an improvement over that flick. GvsK seemed like a streamlined hatchet job, whittled down to the bone from a more expansive premise, while GxK feels more deliberate in its relative simplicity. It still has some plot holes and deus ex machina contrivances but they seem to be baked into the premise rather than resulting from reshoots and reedits.

A key difference between the two films is that GvsK had a larger cast of characters and nearly the entire story played out from their various perspectives, with only a few short scenes of monsters alone. It arranged most of its core players into two groups with parallel plot threads but it still shifted its focus to other side characters, such as Walter Simmons and Ren Serizawa at Apex Cybernetics and Mark Russell at Monarch. I know that it's common parlance to refer to the two core groups in that movie as Team Kong and Team Godzilla but Bernie, Madison and Josh were really Team Mechagodzilla, because that's what their plot thread revolved around, while Godzilla himself got involved in both plot threads at different points.

From the beginning of GxK, it establishes three parallel plot threads led by Kong, the human characters and Godzilla. The main protagonists of the movie are really Kong, Dr. Ilene Andrews and Jia, with Godzilla, Bernie, Trapper and Suko as the main supporting characters. Kong carries most of his scenes without any human characters present and his plot thread is terrific, some of the best monster scenes of the MonsterVerse, with clearly defined visual storytelling that never loses its focus. Contrary to the critical consensus that this movie completely lacks substance, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of genuine heart in Kong's ongoing quest to make Hollow Earth his home and find others of his kind, in Jia's struggle to belong as a teenager who lost her home, and in Dr. Andrews coming to terms with the realization that the best thing for her adopted daughter might be to let her go.

Although the plot threads of Kong and the main cast intersect at multiple points, Godzilla's role in the story is disconnected from both Kong and the main cast for about the first two thirds of the movie. I think that works well for the overall atmosphere, reinforcing the notion that Kong and Godzilla are both big enough characters to carry their own stories separately like they did in the original King Kong vs. Godzilla, in which they only crossed paths by chance one time and the human characters had to bring Kong to Godzilla for the final showdown. GvsK leaned into the new MonsterVerse status quo that Godzilla is a monster who tracks down any other giant monster that appears anywhere in the world at any time, as Godzilla went out of his way to attack Kong on two occasions. GxK is still bound to that status quo but it takes a creative turn with Kong emerging from Hollow Earth among the pyramids in Cairo and calling Godzilla to him for help.

The downside to Godzilla doing his own thing apart from the main cast is that the movie still needs human characters to deliver exposition about what he's doing, and unfortunately the flattest performances in the film are all of the nameless Monarch characters who track Godzilla's actions and describe things out loud. It's like Adam Wingard and the writers wanted to avoid the "Team Godzilla characters suck" criticisms lobbed at GvsK but instead of trying to achieve that by putting more effort into Godzilla's plot thread in GxK, they just opted to avoid any semblance of a "Team Godzilla" in the cast by filling the speaking roles in Godzilla's scenes with non-characters who have no bearing on the story and quickly disappear, while reserving all of the main cast for Kong's plot thread. I've got no problem with Godzilla being a supporting character in the film but I wish his plot thread was done better. At least we get to see plenty of cool Godzilla moments throughout the movie, like when he eats the radiation from French nuclear reactors (just like Gamera eating fire in the Showa era!) or when he uses the Roman Colosseum as a bed, although the entire sequence of Godzilla attacking and slaughtering Tiamat is just awful. Godzilla vs. the giant condor, Godzilla's static first faceoff with Kiryu, Godzilla vs. Ebirah & Hedorah in Final Wars, and Godzilla vs. the male MUTO in Honolulu on a muted TV are all more memorable monster battles than Godzilla vs. Tiamat.

The rest of the monster action scenes in the movie are quite good and they are plentiful. Skar King and Shimo are great new additions to the rogues galleries of both Kong and Godzilla. It's true that the monsters lack a sense of giant scale a lot of the time but I'm pretty forgiving of that kind of thing. I have no problem feeling immersed when I watch any suitmation monsters no matter how cheap the production values, so I really don't find it any harder to suspend my disbelief when these CGI monsters look tiny in the Hollow Earth or when they're floating around the screen in zero gravity. Sure, it's a shame that the visual scale of G'14, Kong: Skull Island and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is mostly gone here, and it's surreal to see this Hollywood Godzilla film series follow the same pattern as the Showa and Heisei series in terms of worrying less about visual scale as time goes on, but it is what it is. Every MonsterVerse movie to date has been dumber than the one before it and GxK follows suit. That's evident in everything about Kong's BEAST Glove, from the complete deus ex machina circumstances of its origin to the delightfully nutty scene when it attaches itself onto Kong's arm to the tune of "I Was Made For Lovin' You" by Kiss. Unfortunately, while the story does have more substance than the critical consensus suggests, some of it is less than half-baked, especially Mothra's role and her connection to Jia. I think the most glaring missed opportunity for a character arc was Bernie. The previous flick established him as an avid podcaster, then GxK showcases how invested he is in his online following and sends him on an incredible journey into the Hollow Earth. He encounters an undiscovered civilization of Iwi people down there and he has that great scene where he's documenting them with his camera and Trapper talks to him about the risk of revealing their existence to the world. The only thing missing for Bernie's potential character growth is a scene at the end in which he chooses not to expose the Iwi to the rest of the world, realizing that some things are more important than gaining subscribers or being believed, but the movie never follows through on his arc like that.

Seeing Godzilla join forces with Kong against Skar King and Shimo evokes the tag-team monster battles of Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon but the Toho flick that GxK reminds me of the most is the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It's a generic sci-fi/fantasy story with a cast of fun and simple characters, and there are plot holes and contrivances if you're looking for things to pick apart but they don't detract from the viewing experience, because the movie has style and action in spades and it just works really well with a clear sense of what it's doing.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Kailem » Thu Apr 25, 2024 12:40 pm

That's a good point about the missed potential to give Bernie a bit of a character arc. I must have just been too distracted by all the cool monster fisticuffs at the end to realise that would have been a good little moment to give him some character growth, but chances are they were just like "whoa, slow down there buddy! We can't go giving the human characters *too much* development now, can we?!" :lol:
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby lhb412 » Sat Apr 27, 2024 11:36 pm

Saw it a second time today and, while I enjoyed it with caveats on first viewing, I was more forgiving and enjoyed it quite a bit more the second time with expectations attuned to what Japanese fans are (apparently) calling the MonsterVerse Champion Matsuri film!

Honestly, I was going to go into a more thorough breakdown this time, but I just read Benjamin's and you hit almost everything I would've mentioned in practically the same way! I am very simpatico with your review! Legendary Godzilla always seemed to take from Heisei Gamera, but in this movie he becomes the fire-eating Showa Gamera!

Some random thoughts in bullet form:

- Dan Stevens should be a big star. He's got "it," you know? This is a rather goofy character playing background to monsters and necessary exposition but he's so charming. He's a guy in need of the right project to utilize him.
- Pretty sorry that Godzilla grows a stegasaurian tail club and never gets to utilize it in a cool way.
- I think, because apes are so humanoid and this is basically a kid's movie, that we were prevented from ape gore in the way we saw other monsters eviscerated into piles of goo. I was dissapointed we didn't get to actually see frozen Skar King get bashed into pieces.
- Weird that Kong and Godzilla have two unrelated sea serpent fights that occur at almost the same time mid-film.
- Did Mothra display this 'pulse that nullifies energy blasts' ability in KOTM?
- Several Toho Easter eggs in Bernie's first scene.
- I enjoy the glee to which this film demolishes some of mankind's most precious classical landmarks, though it seems Godzilla is intentionally preserving the Colluseum as a kitty bed.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Dai » Tue Apr 30, 2024 4:24 pm

^Funnily enough, pretty much the first thing I thought after watching GxK was that the human scenes would have a hard time holding my interest on subsequent viewings and it would be a good candidate for a 70-minute Champion Festival edit.
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Re: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Spoilers and Discussion

Postby Kailem » Thu May 02, 2024 2:50 pm

Oh yeah, pretty much as soon as we started hearing Adam Wingard say the late Showa movies are his favourites and then when the first trailer came out I was totally expecting this to be an extremely Champion Festival-kinda movie. So yeah, really all they need todo to make it official is include an edited-down version on the Blu-ray and give it a new title like "Godzilla, Kong, Mothra: Big Hollow Earth Battle"! :lol:
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