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Review: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

Directed by: Adam Wingard

Premise: A follow-up to Godzilla vs. Kong. The giant ape discovers a deeper layer in the hollow earth inhabited by a society of giant simians whose leader wants to wage war on the surface world. Kong must team up with Godzilla to defeat this new challenger.

What Works: The Monsterverse franchise began with 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. Those films were fairly serious but the series has become increasingly cartoonish. Godzilla x Kong completes the transformation of the Monsterverse’s aesthetic. It continues the colorful look of Godzilla vs. Kong but style is more confident and the storytelling is more focused. This is among the better entries in this series and one of the most consistently entertaining. The best scenes of the movie are those with the monsters. The nonhuman characters are well rendered and the underground world is occasionally beautiful. The film is a very good example of visual storytelling. Kong and the other apes are well characterized and the filmmakers stage the action in ways that convey the creature’s motives through the subtleties of their facial expressions and movements. The action scenes are especially well done. The Monsterverse films are wrestling movies. They’re fundamentally about the action and Godzilla x Kong has some really fun set pieces. The filmmakers approach these scenes with a sense of showmanship and humor. The Monsterverse series and Godzilla x Kong in particular excel in comparison to other big fantasy franchises like the Transformers movies. By comparison, the action of the Monsterverse is much more coherent and fun.

What Doesn’t: Like many of the other Monsterverse films, the weakest element of Godzilla x Kong is the human story. This aspect is done better in Godzilla x Kong than some of its predecessors and the mother-daughter relationship adds some emotional warmth but the human characters are mostly there to deliver exposition. This makes Godzilla x Kong the opposite of 2023’s Godzilla Minus One which was primarily a story about people. This is a wrestling movie and nothing more than that. Godzilla x Kong doesn’t live up to the implications of its title. Godzilla tends to be sidelined in this story. Like the previous film, this is much more Kong’s movie. That makes sense since Kong is so much more expressive and a more sympathetic character but the previous movie ended with the titular monsters reaching some kind of equilibrium. This movie doesn’t really advance Godzilla and Kong’s relationship.

Bottom Line: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is pure popcorn entertainment. It’s not much more than that but this is one of the better entries in the Monsterverse franchise.

Episode: #991 (April 7, 2024)