REVIEW – ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ offers up another tremendously entertaining serving of monster mayhem and very little else

After ten years, four films, and one television series of Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse franchise, we’re back for another serving of Titan chaos. Say what you will about these films, but they all know exactly what they are and wisely refuse to apologise for delivering everything audiences want and expect. Whether the premise of watching several gigantic animals beat the crap out of each other while levelling numerous buildings is growing thin by now is entirely up to you to decide. For this film critic, it’s the kind of big, dumb escapist cinema that rarely gets old.

Much to no one’s surprise, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire offers up another tremendously entertaining serving of monster mayhem and very little else. And that’s perfectly fine. While it takes an exhaustively long time to really get going and the human characters do nothing but frustratingly take the focus off the titular stars you came to see, the outrageous action sequences are undeniably enjoyable. When all is said and done, it’s hard not to be swept up in the ridiculous fun of a film that’s so steadfastly committed to its own absurdity.

Set shortly after the events of Godzilla vs Kong, this sequel finds Kong settling into his new life in Hollow Earth, aka the substantial interior space inside the planet’s core and home to the gargantuan creatures known as the Titans. While his sometimes-enemy Godzilla is hiding out in Earth’s oceans and reemerging to help keep rogue Titans from destroying humanity, the ageing big ape spends his days attempting to find a place to call home in his new world.

Meanwhile, back on the surface, young deaf Iwi native Jia (Fala Chen) is struggling to adapt to life in Western civilisation with her adoptive mother, Ilene (Rebecca Hall). Longing to be reunited with her former Skull Island simian compatriot, Jia begins to experience visions of triangular shapes that inexplicably match electric anomalies Ilene’s research team are detecting from somewhere in Hollow Earth.

As Ilene’s team attempts to uncover the location of what appears to be a distress signal and Kong unexpectedly bonds with a young orphan gorilla he takes under his wing, Godzilla is on the move across the globe. Absorbing more energy sources than ever before, it appears the giant lizard is preparing for an impending threat only he can sense. And, as it will turn out, it’s one he’s faced before and one that threatens to destabilise the unspoken truce between humans and Titans.

Much like every film in the MonsterVerse franchise, Godzilla x Kong suffers from the ongoing curse of featuring a cast of genuinely uninteresting human characters who ultimately just stand in the way of why audiences are here to see the film. The screenplay’s mercifully complicated plot requires almost an hour (!) of expository dialogue to be blurted out by the actors before the fun can really begin. Yes, every bombastic monster film needs a setup, but it shouldn’t take almost half the film’s running time to deliver.

Once again, Hall tries her best to elevate the thankless role of a generic scientist by virtue of Ilene’s connection and devotion to her adopted daughter. That particular narrative thread delves into an interesting but paper-thin subplot involving the Iwi, mystical crystals, glowing goo, and a whole lot of ancient mythology that does little more than eat up time. Chen is as engaging as the previous chapter, but she’s given far less to do this time around. Dan Stevens and returning player Brian Tyree Henry are on hand to occasionally sprinkle in some goofy levity, particularly the former playing a veterinarian who’s like a cockney version of Peter Quill/Star-Lord.

But you didn’t come here to hear about the humans. By now, you know they are relatively superfluous in a film like this. You came to watch a ginormous primate and an enormous lizard battle against other towering creatures. That’s precisely what director Adam Wingard and his team of visual effects wizards produce. Pleasingly, it’s not just a rehashing of the previous film, particularly given Kong and Godzilla are essentially on the same side from the get-go, even if they clearly still view themselves as mortal enemies (yes, they do fight against each other upon their initial reunion).

This time around they have a common foe in the form of Skar King, a scraggly but powerful chimp-like beast who is something of a volatile warlord with a band of unwittingly drafted ape servants. With his body smeared in faded war paint and a “whipslash” comprised of the spinal column of a deceased serpentine Titan as his weapon of choice, Skar King is a menacingly imposing figure. And a formidable foe for both Kong and Godzilla.

It’s a fact that requires our titular monsters to undergo a few upgrades, which, at this point, is entirely essential to freshen up their well-known design aesthetic. Godzilla sucks up so much energy that his previously blue-hued radioactive glow turns a bright shade of pink and his atomic breath becomes far more devastatingly powerful than ever before. Struggling with aging and bearing the wounds of an encounter with a frosty reptilian beasty, Kong is gifted a robotic glove to assist with his brutal punches and climbing ability.

To craft the film’s numerous thrillingly visceral set pieces, the visual effects team are burdened with creating a staggering number of visual effects shots. Unsurprisingly, they knock it out of the park with dazzling creature designs and stellar fight choreography. Set in numerous locations around the world (Cairo, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro, to name a few) that bear the unfortunate collateral damage of Titan on Titan devastation, the action sequences are utterly outrageous and tap into what makes kaiju films so blissfully entertaining. When Godzilla and Kong combine forces, it’s still hard not to smile at the fact these two absolute icons of cinema are sharing the same screen.

It’s naturally frustrating to watch a film like Godzilla x Kong waste an endless amount of time tying itself in narrative knots before arriving at a destination that does not need to be so complicated. Thankfully, it’s not a fatal flaw in a grandiose blockbuster that’s still mostly deliciously exhilarating. For his second outing in this franchise, Wingard leans even more heavily into the weird and silly nonsense of this film’s knowingly ludicrous premise to serve up something that is unashamedly bonkers but unquestionably satisfying.

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, Fala Chen
Director: Adam Wingard
Producers: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers Mary Parent Alex Garcia Eric McLeod
Screenplay: Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett, Jeremy Slater
Cinematography: Ben Seresin
Production Design: Tom Hammock
Costume Design: Emily Seresin
Editor: Josh Schaeffer
Music: Thomas Holkenborg

Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: 28th March 2024 (Australia)

Link partner: garuda99 dewa99 hoki303 agen388 slot99 winslot88 pragmatic77 slot123 luck77 judicuan fit88 bonus168 sikat138 vip303 slot500 bonanza88 pg slot slot habanero mahjong panen777 elang138 warung138 angkasa138 asiabet prada88 megawin77 zeus123 receh138 ligaslot88 lucky365 138 slot king168 roman77 slot5000 batman138 luxury333