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‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Movie Review

March 28, 20243 Mins Read

If you’d told a monster movie fan about fifty years ago that there’d be a schlocky American Godzilla series competing with a sincere Japanese Godzilla series in the 2020s, they’d have probably laughed at you. Where Godzilla Minus One was a loving, heartfelt ode to vintage kaiju movies, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a continuation of the titanic silliness of 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong.

Living a lonely life in the Hollow Earth, Kong becomes aware of a new danger brewing, and decides to enlist his rival Godzilla, who has become Earth’s defender against the Titans – giant monsters that wreak havoc on human civilisation. This time they’re up against a scarred orangutan (whose amber colouration might be a nod to Hollywood’s current political nemesis) who has enslaved a legion of apes and an ice-breathing monster that he hopes to use to take over the world. Luckily they have help from Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the last of the Iwi, her adoptive mother Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens) and conspiracy expert Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry).

In a welcome improvement over the last installment, the human cast that’s used to deliver exposition has a reduced role and size, and is subsequently less annoying. Dan Stevens uses his looks to deliver a level of cocky smarm that suits the film’s tone, Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle make a sufficiently sentimental pair to add something approaching a heart to the film and Bryan Tyree Henry puts in a manic but endearing turn as the perpetually frustrated comedy relief.

To call Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire stupid is to understate both its stupidity and also its bizarre, idiotic merits. The film is a hugely expensive, gaudy, trashy reimagining of the sort of animated fare that used to be aimed at preteen boys. It’s almost impossible to imagine it wasn’t scripted by secretly filming little boys playing rowdily with rubber monster toys, occasionally being told to calm down by a sister who wants to nurse her baby gorilla doll in peace. Yes, there is a baby gorilla, and Kong uses it as a bludgeon, just like a small boy hopped up on sugar would.

This is a film that’s easy to mock, that practically invites mockery, but charges through any criticism like a giant gorilla through a CGI jungle. It’s noisy, juvenile, simplistic and it doesn’t care at all if you are laughing at it or with it. Whether you enjoy it will depend on how willing you are to surrender to it, but it’s hard to really fault its execution of its dumb premise. Maybe it’s a bit overlong, maybe the umpteenth reveal of some new creature starts wearing thin after a while, but you bought a ticket to a movie about monsters wrestling and that’s exactly what you get.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire isn’t clever, but it does its job. If you enjoyed the last one and have some deep need to see the pyramids of Giza smashed to pieces in a punchup between a giant ape and a fire-breathing lizard, this is the film for you.

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