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Movie Review: ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’

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Godzilla and Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

(L to R) Godzilla and Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In theaters on Friday 29th March, ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ continues the Monsterverse saga that has played out across movies such as ‘Godzilla’, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’, the latter directed by Adam Wingard. The filmmaker is back with this new entry, which looks to dive deeper into the Hollow Earth mythology introduced in the versus movie.

It’s definitely not one for newcomers, stuffed full of continuing story threads, though it doesn’t exactly put storytelling depth ahead of big beasts destroying infrastructure as they do battle.

Related Article: 12 Best Godzilla and/or King Kong Movies

Does ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Deliver on Monster Action?

Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Here’s the big, main, glaring problem with ‘Godzilla x Kong’… It very much takes an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. But a lot about ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ was broken, and this latest effort definitely doesn’t do anything to fix it.

So while there are certainly elements that work to some degree, the movie as a whole falls down whenever (most of) the humans are on screen. And unless you’re the world’s biggest fan of monsters hitting/blasting/whatever-ing each other, the feeling is very much one of numbing familiarity. While Wingard certainly knows his way around a witty, wrestling move-inspired set piece, even he can’t paper over the giant cracks appearing.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’: Script and Direction

Director Adam Winged on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Director Adam Winged on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Featuring a story by Wingard, regular collaborator Simon Barrett and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ veteran Terry Rossio, the actual script is credited to Barrett, Terry Rossio and Jeremy Sumpter.

In truth, though, this really is one of those movies that leaves you wondering how it took so many experienced writers to come up with something so basic. There’s a new monster threat. Kong and Godzilla end up forming an unlikely alliance to deal with it. The humans either deliver exposition or quips (sometimes both). That’s it. There are times where the storytelling has all the complexity of a kid smashing their toys together.

Naturally, no one comes to these movies expecting Dostoevsky-level depth, but ‘The New Empire’ really doesn’t offer much in the way of anything beyond creature rumbles.

Suko in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Suko in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As mentioned, Wingard (and the effects team) conjure up some fun fights and brings plenty of knowing winks to monster mythology within them –– one of the big new threats, for example, is a classic kaiju, while our main duo is helped by a well-known creature (we’d joke about their name, but it’s too much of a spoilery giveaway).

Yet so much of the movie takes place within the Hollow Earth that it devolves into a mess of CGI that sometimes looks rubbery and fake (and far less effective than some atmospheric shots of Godzilla that could have been ripped straight from a classic Toho title.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’: Performances

Dan Stevens as Trapper, Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews and Kaylee Hottle as Jia in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Dan Stevens as Trapper, Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews and Kaylee Hottle as Jia in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Most people are coming to these movies for the bigger names, and we don’t mean any of the humans. In keeping with Wingard’s style, all the monsters have their own personalities (even if Godzilla is more animalistic than Kong’s recognizable emotions) and offer up perfectly serviceable actions. Highlights include the sight of the big lizard curled up to nap in Rome’s coliseum and Kong meeting a new mini version of himself).

Beyond the beasts, there are far slimmer pickings. Rebecca Hall has proved in the past she’s adept at bringing humanity to genre characters, but her Dr. Ilene Andrews serves either as an exposition delivery service (she might as well as be the narrator of the movie, stitching together plot threads and scenes because the title characters can’t) or the emotional heart of the movie alongside adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle).

Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Yet her connection with Jia is so cliched and basically emotional that it’s never satisfying. Of the other returning characters, Brian Tyree Henry’s Bernie Hayes is once more very standard comic relief, beneath his talents.

Possibly the best character in the new movie is Trapper, the wackily charming character brought to life by Dan Stevens, who completely understands the assignment and clearly looks to be having a blast working with his old friend Wingard (who directed him in the excellent ‘The Guest’ in 2014 –– which we’d heartily recommend watching instead of this film). In fact, he’s having more fun than most people in the audience are likely to.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’: Final Thoughts

Godzilla in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Godzilla in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Exhausting in its CG mishmash, the new monster movie seems unlikely to appeal to all but the monster committed fans of the title characters. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel and it still has no idea what to do with its characters besides have them explain what is going on or look scared.

“Big and dumb” isn’t always a criticism for a giant movie such as this, but in the case of ‘Godzilla x Kong’, it’s an apt description.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ receives 5.5 out of 10 stars.

“Rise together or fall alone.”

75

PG-131 hr 55 minApr 12th, 2024

Showtimes & Tickets

This latest entry in the Monsterverse franchise follows up the explosive showdown of Godzilla vs. Kong with an all-new cinematic adventure, pitting the almighty… Read the Plot

What’s the story of ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’?

The new installment in the Monsterverse puts the mighty Kong and the fearsome Godzilla against a colossal deadly threat hidden within our world that threatens the existence of their species and our very own, as well as diving deep into the mysteries of Skull Island and beyond.

Delving straight into the origins of Hollow Earth, this film will explore the ancient Titan battle that brought man and monster together forever.

Who else is in ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’?

Alongside the giant creature characters (who play themselves), the human cast for this one includes the returning likes of Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilenes Andrews, Brian Tyree Henry as monarch conspiracy podcaster Bernie Hayes and Kaylee Hottle as Jia., who has a connection to Kong.

New to the Monsterverse this time are Dan Stevens, Fala Chen and Rachel House.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ is in production right now and will be in theaters on March 15th next year.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ is in production right now and will be in theaters on March 15th next year. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures.

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