Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire Review

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire
A dangerous threat emerges in the Hollow Earth. To defeat it, titan Kong will need to team up with his best frenemy: Godzilla.

by Amon Warmann |
Published on
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Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

It’s been 70 years since Godzilla made his first on-screen appearance, and his stock is as high as ever: Godzilla Minus One deservedly won an Oscar for its incredible visual effects back in March; while TV spin-off Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters proved that it is possible to have compelling human characters amid all the clashes of titans. The MonsterVerse, which began with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla in 2014, has gradually become less sombre and more silly with every entry, a trend that continues with returning director Adam Wingard’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. At its best, it delivers a fun slice of monster mayhem, even if we have to wait too long for the titular duo to charge into battle together.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

The journey to that moment is somewhat of a mixed bag. Rebecca Hall’s Dr Ilene Andrews is once again saddled with chief-exposition duty, aided by Brian Tyree Henry’s returning podcaster Bernie Hayes and franchise newcomer Dan Stevens as Trapper, a kind of titan Doctor Dolittle. Both Hayes and Trapper are shallow but fun, with Stevens’ laid-back vibes an especially good fit for a world where human casualties aren’t taken all that seriously. And though she could have done with a little more screentime, Hall ekes out every moment of substance she can in playing a mother desperate to do right by her adopted daughter — and Kong-whisperer — Jia (Kaylee Hottle).

Bright, inventive, crowdpleasing fun.

As for the titular duo, Wingard plus screenwriters Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater are much more interested in the giant ape than they are the big lizard. Like Jia, Kong is lonely, searching for more of his kind and a place to belong, a quest that ultimately leads him to unlikely allies like smaller ape Suko, and foes like Skar King, whose introduction as the big bad arrives fairly late on.

The power-struggle that emerges between Kong and Skar King is beautifully rendered, and that it’s all communicated effectively sans dialogue is a testament to Weta’s increasingly impressive visual-effects work. Meanwhile, periodic check-ins with Godzilla amount to little more than a change in complexion (though we learn he is fond of taking naps in Rome’s Colosseum between beat-downs).

Frankly, The New Empire takes far too long to get to the main event that it’s staked all of its marketing on. But when the time comes for Godzilla and Kong to finally join forces, it makes for bright, inventive, crowdpleasing fun, as atomic breath is unleashed and thunderous punches find their mark. It’s hard not to watch it without a grin on your face. It’s just about worth the wait.

This doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and keeps you waiting too long for the final showdown — but when the creatures collide, it still delivers satisfying thrills.
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