“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” Review

I’m worried about Kong

The last time enduring movie monsters King Kong and Godzilla got together was in 2021′s Godzilla vs. Kong and, even as mindless popcorn flicks go, it was wildly stupid. To be fair, practically everyone knows who those dudes are and there’s a reason they’ve been in movies for, like, 300 years, but without the social commentary of either’s original outings, GvK was mostly about big ol’ monsters throwing hands.

Similarly, the newly released Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire makes use of the biggest ape ever and production company Toho’s lizardly champ in the most uninteresting ways possible.

In GxK, Kong has been relegated to Hollow Earth, a topsy-turvy parallel dimension-y land of yore accessible only by portals that popped up at some point near the core of regular Earth. This is how other so-called titans (like Tiamat and Godzilla and Mothra and King Ghidorah) came to town. Meanwhile, Godzilla roams free on regular Earth fighting bad guy titans, which amounts to what might technically be considered homage—aka, crushing buildings while people flee—and everyone just kind of accepts the new world order while going about their lives.

Kong is all alone through the portal(s), however, until he finds another fucking portal to another fucking dimension-y land of even older yore, where other Kongs come a dime a dozen, including this one itty-bitty Kong we’ll just call Kiddie Kong. Ugh.

In this third realm, Pretender-to-the-Ape-Throne Kong (™) has enslaved all of Kong’s kousins (including Kount Kong, Duke Kong and Grand Marquis Kong; these are not real names, it’s just…there are a lot of Kongs). What’s a gargantuan beast to do?

GxK certainly has human actors, like Rebecca Hall (who played Ariel in a production of The Tempest just four years ago); Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey); and Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, and he’s way too good for this crap), though each only represents a piece of the expositional puzzle. They have backstories (they’re scientists and podcasters and Kong vets), but the only time anyone speaks, it’s to explain where everyone is going, what that thing over there might be and why they’re doing stuff.

Honestly, it almost feels like director Adam Wingard (who directed the last Kong/G-zilla movie) somehow found himself with a grip of studio bucks and was like, “Let’s just pull anything from Toho we can think of and throw it up there on the screen,” then writers Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater said, in unison, “OK, but what if it sucked so bad?”

Still, The New Empire does have some damn fine special effects going, and it’s at least mildly fun to watch the iconic structures of Europe and Egypt get got. That doesn’t quite save the sense that Wingard and crew clearly underestimate an audience’s need to have at least a little bit of interesting narrative. No such luck here, though.


+At least a little fun seeing classic movie beasts

-Mindless and not in an unplug-and-relax way

Kong x Godzilla: The New Empire

Directed by Wingard

With Hall, Henry, Stevens, Kong and Godzilla

Violet Crown, Regal, PG-13, 115 min.

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