March 28, 2024

Our favourite kaiju pals are back and this time, they’re working together in our Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review!

It’s been a decade of the current American Godzilla movies, aptly dubbed The Monsterverse, beginning with Bryan Cranston who first helped skyrocket the big scaly boy to the global stage once more. The franchise so far has been a stomping good ride that has featured numerous fan-favourite monsters from the Japanese back catalogue, along with a bunch of decent actors.
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review key art

The latest instalment, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, sees the two titans join together against a common foe. However, is this larger-than-life partnership doomed to fall into Hollow Earth itself or will teamwork make the Kaiju dream work? Find out in our Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review!

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review – Story

Before we jump right into the zany exploits of our titular giants, let’s take stock of where we last left them from the previous movie, Godzilla vs Kong. After their explosive collision in Hong Kong, they called a truce to defeat Mechagodzilla and go their separate ways. With Kong being taken down to Hollow Earth by Monarch and Godzilla protecting the Upper Earth everything seems to be at peace for now, although this movie guarantees it won’t last.
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review fight scene on boat

There may be a winner but the biggest loser is always humans.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire begins with Kong being chased by a pack of monsters, akin to ugly sabretooth tigers, in Hollow Earth. He’s gotten a lot smarter between movies as he uses traps to defeat the savage creatures by falling into a spike-laden pit, although he still shows his mean streak as Kong rips one of the tigers in half, covering himself in monster guts.

On the surface, Godzilla is still protecting humans from other Titans, albeit not very gracefully, as we find him in Rome taking on the crab-like Titan, Scylla (Seen in Godzilla: Kong of the Monsters). After a quick cat nap in the Colosseum, Godzilla is off again in search of his next city to trample.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review Kong roaring

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) returns from the previous movie and is now main character status. Along with her adopted daughter Jai (Kaylee Hottle), they are based near a Hollow Earth portal in a Monarch base. It’s here that Kong resurfaces to complain about a rotten tooth that he can’t remove himself.

This calls for a very unique vet, Trapper, who is new to the franchise. Played by Dan Stevens (Beauty & The Beast, Downton Abbey), Trapper is an enigmatic and down-to-earth character that plays off the serious yet curious Ilene.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review Dr Ilene and Trapper

Same hair stylist?

Jai has been having visions of a three-triangle symbol which strangely matches readings received from an outpost in Hollow Earth. This prompts Ilene to seek out the only person in the whole world (apparently) who can help her, Bernie Hayes, the podcaster and tech-head (Brian Tyree Henry) who she met in Hong Kong. He points out that the signal is a distress call and requests to tag along to Hollow Earth as repayment for his assistance.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review main characters

Top Gun 3: Anyone can fly a jet.

The outpost has gone silent and Kong is all healed and ready for action. So all four characters, along with a hilarious Scottish pilot by the name of Mikael (Alex Ferns), traverses deep underground to investigate the source of the S.O.S call. As Kong returns to his cosy cave, he is attacked by several other apes. With him fending off the attack, a young ape is left behind who Kong forces to take him back to his home and his leader.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review little ape

Introducing; unnamed ape but small!

Meanwhile, Godzilla continues to take out nuclear power plants and even a powerful titan in order to gain more power, causing concern among the world’s governments. We soon find out what the signal is and who is sending it, as it was a means to warn humans of the resurgence of the evil ape, known as The Skar King.

This whip-wielding orangutan-esqe titan poses a real challenge for Kong as he retreats after being injured badly during their first encounter. The Skar King also unleashes another newly introduced titan that will send shivers down your spine.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review skar king

The Skar King isn’t as powerful as Kong but he has +10 Dexterity.

This sets up the thrilling conclusion with an impressive amount of CGI thrown together. Not to mention another city getting obliterated and the highly anticipated return of a fan-favourite character. As the human characters all but stand by and watch the chaos unfold, Kong must return to the surface to enlist the help of his previous enemy, Godzilla. The fate of the world relies on the team-up of these two titans as the phrase, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, has no better place than here, in Godzilla x Kong.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review Godzilla and Kong roaring

“Hey Godzilla, you know what would be cool? If we roared at the exact same time.”

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review – Acting

The clear focus in this movie and the previous has been Kong, with Godzilla taking more of a back seat and only seems to be included for the occasional beam blast. Whilst lizard fans might be turned off to begin with, he does get his own time to shine. This may be due to the fact Kong has more human-like characteristics, that are heavily featured here, or that this American-based series seems to think audiences would prefer to see more of Kong, an American creation.

Either way, Godzilla x Kong provides a more in-depth look into the historic titan ape culture and many scenes containing the Apes have no words whatsoever but it’s still clear what’s happening.

A more streamlined affair with fewer humans to stuff up the little plot.

The human actors are also stripped right back this time around, with some returning and more hilarious faces (Bernie). Dan Stevens also introduces a fresh take on an alternate animal buff as he is specifically called out as an “Ace Ventura wannabe” in a humorous one-liner. Rachel House of New Zealand fame (Thor: Ragnarok) also makes an appearance as the new head of Monarch and although her scenes are limited it’s good to see her pop up here.

The emotional bond between Illene and Jai is very apparent as both Hall and Hottle pull at the heartstrings just enough for you to forget this movie is about giant monsters in their short scenes together.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review Bernie

Bernie has almost as many pins as Qualbert himself!

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review – Visuals

One thing that can be said about the Monsterverse, is that the production and CGI are fantastic. With so much going on and the majority of the film located in a wholly made-up world, the scenes are breathtaking to say the least. As the plot continues down in Hollow Earth, there are some great visual effects of giant crystals in a subterranean cavern.

There are also a lot of cinematic-looking shots, from Kong and Mini Kong sitting on a cliff as the sun sets, to Godzilla taking a dive off the Rock of Gibraltar. A huge plus for Australians too, as this was all filmed on the Gold Coast with a huge input from the local Screen Queensland company.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review Godzilla Rome

At least Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review – Audio

Another reappearance is the film’s composer, Tom Holkenborg, who also worked on the previous instalment, with some additional credits being Sonic 2 and Zach Snyder’s Justice League. The OST is more than suitable for a few monsters beating each other up but the real impressive sound design is the monsters themselves. From the Mini Kong’s child monkey noises to the very familiar screech of Godzilla, the sound design here is top-notch.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review – Conclusion

Whilst some more attuned moviegoers might find a plot hole or two, the real fun is here watching two literal and physical giants of the silver screen combine forces. The Monsterverse continues its huge stampede of blockbuster fights and incredible CGI action. Whilst this film is more based on Kong and not so much Godzilla, that doesn’t stop any of the titanic action from being less explosive.
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review wallpaper

Looking forward to the next ridiculous sequel!

If you have enjoyed the series so far then there is a lot more here to sink your claws into. Although this series began with Godzilla, the lore from the Japanese series seems less apparent here and any more sequels would do well to bring in some of the many historic Kaiji.

So, why should you watch Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire?

  • Enjoyed the last few movies
  • Big dumb fun
  • A decent amount of comedy/action

But why shouldn’t you watch Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire?

  • Need a more engaging plot
  • Have a soft spot for historic global locations
  • They don’t shake hands or hi 5 at the end

A preview screening was kindly provided by Warner Bros. Australia for the purpose of our Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our review for Dune Part 2 and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about all things kaiju!

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