Connect with us

Featured Review

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire ★★★



Released: 29 March 2024

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall

Amidst the plethora of algorithmic franchises that occupy the multiplex screens, the kaiju-focused MonsterVerse has become the unlikely winner in the sea of failed IP revivals. This mashup of Toho’s biggest monster warriors has now not only brought King Kong into the mix, but also ventured into the TV territory with both Skull Island and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Now, if all this seems to follow the rulebook of a certain superhero media giant, that’s because it fully does: the shades of MCU are all over the current state of the MonsterVerse, yet Adam Wingard’s deftly self-aware handling of the titan crossover in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire still manages to deliver on the promise of a globetrotting kaiju spectacle.

Three years since the events of Godzilla vs. Kong, both Godzilla and Kong are now the protectors of their respective realms: Godzilla occupies the ocean waters, while Kong lives in solitude in the subterranean space known as Hollow Earth. When a new threat, the Skar King, threatens the balance of a previously uncharted realm, the scientists from the Monarch organization must venture deep into the Hollow Earth to uncover the mystery of this newfound enemy.

From its ostensibly silly opening sequence that sees Kong experiencing chronic loneliness while demonstrably asserting his dominance by ripping his foes in half, Godzilla x Kong (inexplicably pronounced as “GodzillaKong”) wishes to establish its goofy tone from the outset. The horror duo Adam Wingard/Simon Barrett have their fingers firmly on the pulse here, crafting an authentic kaiju film that is reliant on visual storytelling and gloopy gore gags. In contrast with the previous MonsterVerse entries, GxK feels almost like a monster hangout film, raising the stakes only in the leadup towards its gargantuan third act.

This is where the sequel stumbles a bit: like the recent Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the first half of GxK feels somewhat aimless, with characters moving in and out of frame for the sole reason of keeping the thinly plotted narrative up and running. Thankfully, the main cast is charming enough to riff off each other in the meantime, and Wingard clearly trusts his team to deliver the banter. Between Dan Stevens’s outing as Trapper (the film’s riff on an Indiana Jones-type figure) and Brian Tyree Henry’s return as an eccentric Titan obsessive, there are plenty of surprisingly funny and heartfelt interactions between the human characters in the downtime from all the kaiju action.

Wingard and Barrett are certainly no strangers to franchise cinema, and with GxK there’s a certain aura of post-irony that further elevates this delightfully simple monster extravaganza. The film’s take on the widespread “Baby Yoda-fication” in media gets (quite literally) thrown out and weaponized against the audience’s expectation, all the while Godzilla manages to slap Kong and perform a suplex straight out of the WWE move-set. The New Empire’s pleasures are refreshingly straightforward, as the film revels in its glorious stupidity (complimentary) and primal thrills. This amalgam of kaiju film trappings and contemporary blockbuster conventions results in a major tentpole that feels old-fashioned by design, stripped down to its action-adventure basics for a sure-fire way of delivering a dopamine rush. In this day and age, that’s certainly an admirable feat.

Just For You