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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review

March 29, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review  

Directed By: Adam Wingard
Written By: Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett, Jeremy Slater, and Wingard; Based on the character Godzilla created by TOHO Co., Ltd.
Runtime: 115 minutes
MPA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language.

Rebecca Hall – Ilene Andrews
Kaylee Hottle – Jia
Dan Stevens – Trapper
Brian Tyree Henry – Bernie Hayes
Alex Ferns – Mikael
Rachel House – Hampton
Fala Chen – Iwi Queen

The epic Monsterverse continues in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. In this new colossal showdown, the bitter enemies Godzilla and Kong must form an unlikely alliance to face a greater threat that endangers the planet. Godzilla x Kong is by no means a deeply thoughtful, post-war drama exploring the tragedy and trauma that war brings to its victims. Instead, The New Empire opts for big monster blockbuster thrills. The movie succeeds and delivers on that front, but the rest of the plot is sorely lacking.

Picking up about two years after Godzilla vs. Kong, the world resettles into the post-Titans era. Kong has safely relocated to Hollow Earth, where Monarch has its own observatory outpost. Meanwhile, Godzilla resides on Earth’s surface, taking care of the other more disastrous Titan menaces in between naps in the Roman Colosseum. Kong now holds dominion as the alpha creature of his new homeland, but he longs for companionship. However, the notion that Kong is the last of his kind is deeply misguided.

Soon Kong inadvertently unlocks a gateway leading deeper into Hollow Earth, where the other Great Apes have been imprisoned for thousands of years. Meanwhile, something from Hollow Earth is sending out a signal that’s being received by Jia (Hottle), the last surviving Iwi villager, who was adopted by Dr. Ilene Andrews (Hall) and befriended Kong. After Titan podcaster Bernie Hayes (Tyree Henry) helps uncover the origin and nature of the signal, Dr. Andrews brings Jia, Bernie, and Titan veterinarian Trapper (Stevens) along for a recon mission to get to the bottom of the mission. They eventually discover a deadly new Titan that could threaten the world, but their discovery also holds the key to Jia’s destiny. Meanwhile, the signal coming from Hollow Earth prompts Godzilla to absorb massive amounts of energy as he preps for the greatest battle of his life.

The Monsterverse’s longstanding problem of dull human characters persists through The New Empire. Talented thespians make up the cast, but they serve little purpose besides providing the audience with perfunctory exposition dumps. These scenes lack any notable substance and only serve to break up the major kaiju fights and action.

What does work about The New Empire is how the film builds the Titan characters beyond just big, smashing monsters. The Titans emerge as the most fascinating and textured characters of the story. Most of the action in The New Empire is driven by Kong as he seeks to solve the mystery of the hidden pathway in Hollow Earth. These scenes have no dialogue, and The Titans’ primal actions and physical behavior drive the sequences forward. The intent of the Titans comes across through their visual actions and body language.

Wingard excels as a filmmaker in these interesting scenes. Whenever the humans show up again, they follow traditionally boring, predictable beats, reciting corny jokes or verbalizing hackneyed dialogue. The human characters are usually the least compelling part of any Godzilla movie, and while that should not be the case, there is little reason to care about them. Early on, a Monarch soldier, Mikael (Ferns), is introduced as the lone military escort for the reconnaissance mission to Hollow Earth. At first, Mikael appears to be a reasonable and workable character. As the plot unfolds, Mikael quickly spirals into becoming a one-note, antagonistic idiot who meets a predictable fate. The New Empire is not interested in elevating the human subplot, and that is fine, to a point, since the monster material works exceptionally well.

The main drawback of the central threat is the payoff of the new villain, dubbed the Scar King, who doesn’t quite meet the buildup. Considering Godzilla spends most of the movie preparing for the battle of his life, the Scar King should be more formidable. He certainly has a unique design, but it seems like he needs to present a stronger threat as the Titan who draws Kong and Godzilla into fighting together.

When the Titans clash, the action is undoubtedly entertaining. The fights meet the massive scale of the monsters, and humans are merely spectators rather than active participants. However, Tom Holkenborg’s overly bombastic score fails to meet the majesty of these cinematic icons. There is a hint of a decent theme when Godzilla is onscreen, but it never meets its full potential.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire takes positive steps with developing the Titans as characters rather than merely big setpieces, but the human elements are still woefully lacking. The New Empire acts more like a tribute by Wingard to the later Showa Era films of Godzilla’s cinematic history. It works relatively well in that respect, at least when it’s time for the kaiju to smash up the place. While various aspects could have worked better, The New Empire presents an alternative type of flavor for Godzilla cinema, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The final score: review Good
The 411
As a giant blockbuster monster clash fest, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire generally gets the job done. It also successfully expands the personalities and texture of the Titans as narrative characters, which is a net positive since the human scenes are incredibly dull and uninteresting. The good thing is that through large swaths of the film, there is virtually no dialogue when the Titans interact as their storyline unfolds. Wingard excels with The New Empire when he lets the creatures and the visuals tell the story over banal dialogue.