In ‘Godzilla x Kong,’ They Came. They Pounced. Who Suffers?

This article contains spoilers for “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.”

By the end of “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” the latest in the so-called Monsterverse franchise from Warner Bros., multiple cities around the world have been rendered essentially uninhabitable and treasured monuments have been turned to dust. Godzilla, Kong and their adversaries flatten sections of Rio, ripping buildings in half during their climactic brawl, as a monster that can shoot ice from its mouth coats the coastal setting, presumably freezing a bunch of citizens as well.

Earlier, the two big guys punch their way through the pyramids in Cairo as tourists and locals scramble away from falling rocks. On top of that, at one point, Godzilla also takes up temporary residence in the Colosseum in Rome after he stomps through that locale. It’s frankly pretty cute the way he curls up to nap in the ancient amphitheater like a puppy, but the fact that he probably killed thousands of people getting to his makeshift bed isn’t really addressed.

Directed by Adam Wingard, the film cares more about the beasties than it does anything else. Given the cartoonish tone Wingard is working in — Godzilla turns pink in this one while he and Kong fight a giant evil ape named the Skar King with a bone whip — it makes sense that there isn’t much dwelling on the human toll. Still, the sheer level of destruction is so outsize it’s almost amusing. Sure, you go into a Godzilla flick expecting for some structures to crumble, but this just feels extreme, especially in how casually it shrugs off the fact that monsters have just toppled thousands of years worth of history and countless lives.

Over the years, films starring Godzilla and his pals have varied wildly in how they deal with the creatures’ victims — they have been serious and outright silly. While sometimes Godzilla can be a way to explore very human fears, at other times he’s just an outlet to watch things go boom. “Godzilla x Kong” puts him firmly in this noisy camp, which makes the treatment of death just seem careless.

Perhaps one of the reasons “Godzilla x Kong” is so striking in how little it seems to think about damage is that the last “Godzilla” movie to hit theaters was entirely concerned with Godzilla as a representation of trauma.

A scene from “Godzilla Minus One.”Credit…Toho Company
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