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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Review)

Updated: Apr 8



  • A month after Godzilla vs Kong was released, there were rumors of a fifth Monsterverse film that was being discussed and one idea that was circling was a "Son of Kong" kind of movie. This led to many people speculating this would become a solo Kong film. While Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire didn't turn out to be a solo Kong film, the "Son of Kong" idea still made it into the movie with a smaller Kong named Suko aiding Kong on his quest to find more of his kind.

 
  • As part of promoting the movie, Godzilla Minus One director Takashi Yamazaki got to watch Godzilla x Kong early praising on social media saying, "It is super fun and gorgeous. Be sure to see it on the big screen." Around the same time, director Adam Wingard went to see Godzilla Minus One and praised the film stating, "It's fantastic. One of the best Godzilla movies I've ever seen. Their take on Godzilla is so different from mine." Both Yamazaki and Wingard would continue to promote each other's films up to the release of Godzilla x Kong.

 
  • According to Adam Wingard, he wanted Godzilla's new design to have more of an 80s aesthetic in terms of color and texture as if you see a toy of this Godzilla in a toy store in the 80s. His other inspiration for the new design are the late-Showa era Godzilla films (Godzilla vs the Smog Monster, Godzilla vs Gigan, Godzilla vs Megalon, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla, and Terror of MechaGodzilla), which he is a fan of. According to creature designer Jared Krichevsky, he states the dorsal plates were inspired by the Godzilla Ultima design from the anime Godzilla Singular Point. Ultimately, fans were quick to point out the similarities between Godzilla's new design to the millenium Godzilla design from Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs Megaguirus.


Review:

Continuing his quest to find more of his kind, Kong discovers an ancient evil that seeks to rule both the Hollow Earth and the surface. Unable to fight this evil alone, Kong turns to Godzilla to stop the calamity that threatens both of their worlds.


Ever since the first teaser last year, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire introduced a new villain that is supposed to be a challenge for both Godzilla and Kong. As we got more details on the movie, any excitement I had seemed to have dwindled, especially when the movie was moved up to Easter weekend which made me miss out on seeing the movie earlier. However, there were a lot of people that were claiming that the movie was a lot better than it was expected. When you mix that with how the movie has done financially on the first weekend this had me excited for this film. I knew going into the movie that this cannot be compared to Godzilla Minus One since Godzilla x Kong is a completely different film, but I do believe part of the success and excitement for Godzilla x Kong did have to do with Godzilla Minus One having done so well here in the states as well as winning an Oscar back in March boosted interest in this film. After seeing the movie, I found Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire to be underwhelming.


Warning: There will be spoilers in this review. If you don't want to be spoiled I suggest you go watch the movie first and then come back.


Pros:



To make one thing clear, Monsterverse movies are never strong with the human story. When you watch any of the movies, you are mainly watching for the monster fights. If you watched the trailers, you are getting exactly what you expect the movie to be. The monster fights are really fun to watch and it is exactly what you are getting. It is over the top in a fun way. My favorite fight is the rematch between Godzilla and Kong in Egypt. Kong fought a lot better than he did in Godzilla vs Kong. I think the best moment was when Godzilla does a suplex on Kong. Another great moment is when Kong gets ambushed by Suko and three other giant apes and Kong just uses Suko like a nunchuck to lay the smackdown. The monsters in this movie really do stuff we haven't seen in any of the previous films that makes this movie fun to watch. The film's climactic fight at Rio de Janeiro was much shorter than previous movies, which is underwhelming to say the least. If monster fights is all you expect, then you won't be disappointed.


Most of the story is focused on the monsters (mainly Kong's story). It is becoming more apparent that these movies are making the monsters develop more like actual characters than obstacles with each movie. Kong has been searching for his kind until he runs into a baby Kong called Suko, which Kong forces him to show where the rest of Suko's kin are located. Upon finding Suko's den, he finds out his kind are being treated like slaves by other apes and Kong's presence alerts Skar King, which provokes Kong into a fight. As Kong showed that he can overpower Skar King, Skar takes this as an opportunity to use his most powerful Titan slave, Shimo. Kong was unable to fight Shimo on his own and has to turn to Godzilla for help. All the while that is going on, Godzilla has been on the rampage attacking monsters and power plants to power up and evolve. What I liked was how Kong became a sort of father figure to Suko. Suko started off not trusting Kong because Kong forced Suko to show him the way to the den where the other giant apes live. Yet along the way there, Kong was kind to share his food with Suko which started a new kinship between them. I enjoyed watching the two of them grow to be a duo.



I really liked Shimo in this movie. Shimo was first teased back in 2021 during the Call of Duty crossover event in the cave painting and it was long speculated she was going to be appear in this movie. At first, some fans thought the cave painting was teasing SpaceGodzilla due to similarities, but it turned out to not be the case. She feels more like a threat than Skar King was. I got a sense that Shimo alone was going to be very powerful as soon as she first appeared on screen. I also felt sort of bad for Shimo as she is forced to attack cities and other Titans. It is telling when Skar King tries to give a command she tries to resist, but every time Shimo resists she is in a lot of pain. So you feel bad for the monster as well as get a sense of danger until she is free from Skar's control.


Mixed:


As I have mentioned, the Monsterverse movies have never had a strong human story and it is really hard to come up with a story that has good characters. However, that doesn't mean there were never good characters in these movies. We had Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody in Godzilla (2014); Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa in Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters; Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman as James Conrad, Preston Packard, Hank Marlow, and Bill Randa in Kong: Skull Island; Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown as Mark Russell and Madison Russell in Godzilla: King of the Monsters; and Kaylee Hottle as Jia in Godzilla vs Kong. These were all good characters that appeared at least once or twice through out the franchise.



While we do see the return of Rebecca Hall as Ilene Andrews, Kaylee Hottle as Jia, and Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes in this movie, neither them nor Dan Stevens as Trapper made me really care about what happens to them. They seem like they were their just as set pieces to hurry the story along. The story was really weak. It didn't do enough to make me care about them. The closest to me caring about the story was after the group has discovered there is another Iwi tribe living in the Hollow Earth Ilene has to come to a decision of letting go of her adopted daughter, Jia, who is also an Iwi. Other than that, the human story is paper thin. Most of the human story is just the characters giving exposition on what is happening to Kong and Godzilla.


Speaking of Godzilla, he seemed almost secondary and was just shoehorned as he has much smaller screen time. Most of the time, Godzilla is seen attacking a monster or a power plant to absorb enormous amounts of radiation so he could evolve into a new form. I did like how he was presented from the beginning up to the point where he gets his new "evolved" form. When he is on screen there is never a dull moment. We see him doing things we never saw Godzilla do in other movies. So I really enjoyed the action part when he is on screen. His new design I am not a fan of. He looks way too skinny like he is anorexic. I also feel as though I never understood why he needed an "evolved" form. His new form is too aesthetic. There is a lot of drastic changes to his overall design. In terms of power and strength, there doesn't seem to be any change from how he was before.


Mothra finally makes a return to the big screen. We have not seen her since Godzilla: King of the Monsters when she sacrificed herself to save Godzilla. She was suppose to have post credit scenes in both King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs Kong, but were cut out from both of the films. While I did enjoy seeing her return, she didn't play a big role in the movie. She stopped Godzilla and Kong from fighting each other and she sort of joined the fight in the Hollow Earth, but she was hardly in the movie. I would have liked to have seen her play a larger role.


Another thing the Monsterverse movies are known for is presentation of scale and how they make these monsters so much larger. While you do still get that with Godzilla x Kong, there are times that sense of scale is lost. There are times where Godzilla, Kong, Suko, Mothra, and even Skar King don't look as big as they should. However, this is only when the monsters are in the Hollow Earth, which is supposed to be home for these monsters. When the monsters are on the surface fighting in Egypt or Rome or Rio de Janeiro, that sense of size for these monsters returns back to normal. So the movie tries to present this world as being vastly larger than the monsters themselves, but it does come off looking really weird when in the Hollow Earth.


Cons:



The biggest letdown is the movie's antagonist, Skar King. Ever since he was first teased last year, he was being built up as this threatening presence that can take on both Kong and Godzilla. With each trailer, however, I got more of a sense that this villain was not as big of a threat and mostly my fears were correct. I didn't get the sense that Skar King was even remotely threatening. He does a lot of retreating and turning to Shimo for help every time Kong or Godzilla lay one punch on him. What I expect from a movie are stakes being raised. I always try to find how the next movie going to be crazier than the last movie. While Skar King had an army for his invasion, that army got wiped out by Godzilla, Kong, Mothra, and Suko very easily. On top of that, according to the movie's lore Godzilla fought Skar King and his army before and Skar was beaten very easily the first time. To me, that does not make a good impression for a villain.


The one thing I wish I have not seen come back is Tom Holkenborg (aka JunkieXL) as the composer. I find his music very boring and generic. I never liked his music in Godzilla vs Kong neither. I found nothing in his music sounds terrifying, epic, whimsical, or anything that fits the mood of the scenes in these movies. He has also gave a bad explanation on why he didn't want to use Godzilla's classic theme music for this film. He compared how Superman's theme wouldn't work in Man of Steel because the movie is a more melancholic and emotional story and it is a similar reason to not use any of Godzilla's music in this movie. I don't agree with this take at all. We just had Godzilla Minus One, Shin Godzilla, Ready Player One, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters all use this theme song and it has worked every time Godzilla appeared on screen. The theme song is just that iconic. When I think of a good soundtrack, I want to be able to listen to that soundtrack everywhere I go. When I get in my car I would put on the soundtrack for Godzilla: King of the Monsters or Godzilla Minus One or even music from video games like Super Mario Bros. because the music that goes into those soundtracks has heart and emotion poured into them. I don't get that with Tom Holkenborg. His music doesn't sound like he put any thought nor care into the music for two movies.


Final Thoughts:


Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire goes over the top with fun monster fights, but the build up to the movie's antagonist, Godzilla's new form, the music, and story all felt underwhelming when compared to Godzilla vs Kong. There are good moments in this movie, but it all seems rushed or fell short just to get to those moments. If the monster fights are all you care about, then you can't go wrong with this movie.


Have you seen Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire? If so, did you like the movie? If not, does this make you want to go see the movie? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on the movie. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.

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