Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

by | Mar 30, 2024 | Movie Reviews, New In Theaters | 0 comments

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire sees the two most powerful creatures on Earth work together to face another world ending threat with power and playfulness. After the film’s predecessor Godzilla vs. Kong ended up on day-and-date streaming on HBO Max in 2021, it’s nice to see Legendary and WB promote this film as a theatrical experience post-covid. For decades these monsters all fought as men inside rubber suits, so it’s incredible to live in a time where those monsters look as real and as imposing as we’ve known they could be. Now we can only hope that they can fight as well together as they do alone.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

In the aftermath of Godzilla and King Kong teaming up to defeat Mecha-Godzilla, the Monarch corporation closely monitors Godzilla’s slumber above ground while they observe Kong’s movements in the Hollow Earth realm. As he begins searching for more of his kind, Kong and the others discover an ancient evil that nearly wiped out all of existence above and below ground. With the help of Kong’s young friend Jia (alongside scientist Irene Andrew (Rebecca Hall) and monster Veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens)) they just might have a chance to unlock the power to defeat unstoppable evil.

After missing the last two previous “Monsterverse” films in theaters I felt I needed to take in Godzilla x King: The New Empire on the big screen to see and feel what I felt was missing at home. Truth be told I did enjoy the monsters’ roars and clobbers in an environment that nearly shook my seat, however I won’t deny that I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the visuals. While Kong and the Apes have more detail to their appearance, Godzilla and Shimo felt uninspired and largely flat in their design models. It doesn’t help that we don’t spend much time with Godzilla in the first place, but when we do see him, he’s either running goofily or is only there to use his signature atomic breath. For two monsters who looked magnificent and terrifying in Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017), Earth’s mightiest protectors have completely regressed in terms of their appearance and abilities and leave the audience constantly wanting more from these supposed Titans.

Director Adam Wingard returns after helming Godzilla vs. Kong and thankfully brings his buddy Dan Stevens along for the ride. While Steven’s Trapper is clearly there to hit the comedic marks, there’s a certain charm to Steven’s that helps make the rest of the poor comedy around him a bit more bearable. Wingard is widely known for his great horror and thriller films which makes Godzilla x Kong so disappointing because there’s nothing here that feels thrilling or terrifying. At no point do the impressive and mighty powers of these titans feel completely devastating and when the villains begin to threaten the Earth it’s hard to feel invested because it doesn’t feel like much is at stake.

As is often the case with most of these “Monsterverse” films, the over-inclusion of obnoxious human characters continues to plague the story as comedy is forced into the narrative. The Toho and Showa Era monster films are inherently goofy, and I know that you can’t totally make these films without some level of absurdity, however I think these films continue to take themselves less seriously and thus feel less impactful with each installation. Having multiple comedic characters competing for time and space becomes bothersome in this film and constantly takes away from what should be an impressive film around it. It’s not enjoyable to say that this film felt underwhelming, but the reality is that in 2024 these iconic characters should look better and have a better story around them with the size of budget they have.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire felt far longer than its advertised two-hour runtime and you can attribute a large portion of that to the uneven pacing that quietly reveals where the priorities are in this film. In a perfect world this story would have been solely focused on Kong and the other Apes, yet Godzilla was practically forced into the storyline if only to bring in fans of the monster. Godzilla’s inclusion and subsequent battles feel largely inconsequential as they’re glossed over and never given any proper time to play out. Rebecca Hall and Haylee Hottle’s relationship in the film stood out to me the most and the Skull Island tie-ins are quite interesting, unfortunately the rest of the movie is largely uninteresting and utterly foolish without being much fun.

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