Hollywood Movies

GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE DELIVERS A RIOTOUS REUNION (2024/04/02)- Tickets to Movies in Theaters, Broadway Shows, London Theatre & More

April 2, 20246 Mins Read

It’s been an exceptionally busy time for Godzilla fans over the last few months, as they have been presented with not one, not two, but three major live-action productions involving their favorite irradiated behemoth. There was the late 2023 theatrical release of the acclaimed Godzilla Minus One, an allegorical examination of loss and post-traumatic stress disorder produced in Japan by Toho Co., Ltd., that went on to earn nearly $113 million worldwide against a reported budget of $15 million and became the first Godzilla movie to receive an Academy Award (for Best Visual Effects). Around the same time, the Apple TV+ streaming service premiered the well-received, 10-part television series, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, set in the continuity established by the four movies produced in the United States by Legendary Entertainment—Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)—and focusing on the humans whose lives have been profoundly affected by the presence of Godzilla and his ilk around the world. And now comes the latest movie offering, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, in which the world’s two most famous and popular giant monsters share the big screen once again.

As a direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong and a culmination of Legendary’s entire “Monsterverse” series up to this point, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is such a drastic departure from Godzilla Minus One that theatergoers can be forgiven for feeling a bit of whiplash. And yet, this third pairing of the Destructive Duo (they first came to blows in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, unrelated to the current series) is very much in keeping with numerous entries in the Big G’s extensive filmography—meaning the emphasis is on adventure, action, out-of-this-world concepts, outrageous fight scenes and, above all else, fun. And in that pursuit, the film succeeds—though checking your brain at the door certainly helps.

The plot involves the emergence of a new threat from Hollow Earth, the subterranean realm that became Kong’s new home at the end of Godzilla vs. Kong. A malevolent giant conqueror ape, referred to as the Skar King, has discovered the means to reach the surface of Earth and cause mass devastation. He is aided by a reptilian creature called Shimo, who possesses a power similar to Godzilla’s radioactive breath, but with a twist. Kong has a brutal confrontation with the Skar King that leaves him badly injured—though not before he encounters a young ape that he basically takes on as a sidekick amid a lot of friction and mistrust between them. Meanwhile, Godzilla continues to pursue and take down any other giant monsters—called Titans—that he senses as a challenge to his territory and primacy on Earth.

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Fortunately for Kong, he has allies in scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle)—a native of Kong’s original home, the now-lost Skull Island—and podcasting conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), all three returning from Godzilla vs. Kong. They are joined by another scientist, an old friend of Ilene’s called Trapper (Dan Stevens), who apparently functions as Kong’s dentist when needed. It is through their storyline that Hollow Earth is further explored and key revelations about it and its history occur. (One such revelation leads to a surprise appearance that I of course will not spoil here.) Inevitably Kong and Godzilla cross paths again, and there is still no love lost between them. The question is, will they be too intent on battling each other to recognize the greater threat posed by the Skar King and Shimo?

Despite receiving second billing in the title, Kong is really the central monster character here, much like he was in the previous movie. He is portrayed as a highly intelligent and basically good-natured creature—though he doesn’t take crap from anyone and can back up his attitude with impressive fighting skills. That doesn’t mean Godzilla is sidelined—he maintains a significant presence throughout the movie and has his own storyline in which he undergoes a physical transformation. Godzilla’s portrayal is consistent with the previous films in the Legendary series—he’s basically a force of nature, an apex predator beyond good and evil who strides the world as if it belongs to him and has no interest in humanity whatsoever. The destruction he causes is not intentional, nor out of malice—he just smashes things that stand in his way.

The human characters are not even that deep and well developed. All of the actors are fine, but their parts are fairly thin and the bulk of their dialogue is expository at best. Hotlee and Henry are particularly good, and Stevens brings some charm, but his presence raises a question: Unless the filmmakers felt an overwhelming need to include a guy with an Australian accent, why didn’t they just bring back Dr. Nathan Lind, played by Alexander Skarsgård in Godzilla vs. Kong? He’s basically the same character as Trapper and could have easily served the same function in the story. Still, there is a bit of a character arc centering on the relationship between Ilene and Jia that should tug at the heartstrings of even the most jaded viewer.

Picking up on a variety of plot elements and concepts introduced in most of the previous “Monsterverse” films, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has an over-the-top, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quality to it that signals to viewers that they should just go along for the ride. And that ride is supported by lush, elaborate special effects that bring the oversized beasts to life and put them against and alongside each other in exciting combat scenes set in locales including Rome, Cairo, and Rio de Janeiro—disappointingly, they never make it to New York City, which would provide a perfect backdrop for monster mayhem of this magnitude.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is not going to make anyone forget Godzilla Minus One. It takes the opposite approach, having no major theme at its core, other than the power of family, and no big statement or underlying message to deliver, other than to have a good time. As big as Godzilla is, there’s still enough room for multiple takes on him to coexist, so worship at the church of your choice.


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Buy tickets HERE for GODZILLA X KONG


SPOILER ALERT: Monster fans, see the film’s Japanese-release trailer below for a major Easter egg. Otherwise, do not watch




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Glenn Greenberg is an award-winning editor, journalist, pop-culture historian, and author with an MFA in Creative Writing. His work spans both fiction and nonfiction and has been published by a variety of top companies including Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., NBC Universal, A360, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, IDW Publishing, TwoMorrows Publishing, and Scholastic Inc.






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