Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire review | A Kong film masquerading as a team-up film

godzilla x kong review
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Godzilla and King Kong team up again in Adam Wingard’s MonsterVerse sequel. Here’s our Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review. 

I can’t say I’ve ever had to review a film and I didn’t know how to pronounce its title. I’m of course talking about the sequel to 2021’s Godzilla Vs Kong, which is confusingly titled Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

Are we saying Godzilla EX Kong? Godzilla TIMES Kong? Godzilla AND Kong? Just Godzilla Kong? Or are we just awkwardly trying to avoid saying the name of the film, vaguely speaking of the new Godzilla film and waiting for someone else to make a mistake with the title? 

Thankfully, the film itself is much more straightforward than its title. Adam Wingard has returned to helm the sequel to his box office success Godzilla Vs Kong, which saw the titular monsters make peace with each other and team up against an unlikely threat at the end. 

Well, the big ape and megalizard are back at it again.  

godzilla x kong king kong
Credit: Warner Bros.

We return to Hollow Earth – that’s the subterranean ecosystem that’s underneath our surface – where Kong rules. However, a new threat rises from an even deeper level of the Earth’s core and this time, Kong isn’t strong enough to defeat it on his own. 

Enter Godzilla, who’s been peacefully snoozing in the ruins of the Colosseum and who only awakens to fight more Titans as they threaten humanity. Can Kong and Godzilla put their differences aside once more to defeat this new threat? 

Without giving anything away, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire would make a strangely good double-bill with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, both being about empires and icy threats.

Mileage will inevitably vary when it comes to Godzilla X Kong. Your opinion on the film probably depends on what you’re expecting from a film about two ginormous CGI creatures wreaking havoc while puny humans run around like headless chickens, delivering exposition where needed. 

Read more: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire should have been a horror film

Once again, the humans are the weakest part of the film. There’s admirable effort from writers Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater to improve the mandatory human subplots by having Jia, the last member of the Iwi tribe and Irene Andrews’ adopted daughter question her place in the world. But let’s be real, we’re not paying to watch the humans grapple with their identities or family ties. We pay to watch Kong and Godzilla wreak havoc. 

There is some mayhem in Godzilla X Kong, but not nearly enough. The very beginning, in which Kong is established as an unstoppable force and the true king of Hollow Earth, suggests that we may be in for a satisfyingly gloopy, gooey film in which many a monster is ripped in half. This promise is never fulfilled; Godzilla X Kong disappointingly proves to be a one-trick pony (albeit a very big pony). 

If the film was released a year ago, I may have enjoyed it a whole lot more. The final nail in Godzilla X Kong’s coffin is the fact that we’ve had an incredible Godzilla film just a few months ago. Godzilla Minus One proved that you can make a great kaiju movie with a balanced human element and great (not to mention Oscar-winning) visual effects. If anything, Godzilla X Kong seems to lean more heavily towards the emotive Kong, and perhaps it would have worked better as a sequel to Kong: Skull Island

It’s not all bad, though. The CGI is surprisingly good, and Dan Stevens, playing the world’s weirdest vet and occasional ape dentist, is having the time of his life. Brian Tyree Henry, reprising his role as conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes, also adds a lot of levity in a film that seems to think it’s funnier than it really is. With Godzilla X Kong, Wingard is aiming for a lighter, more entertaining film than its predecessor, but the film is ultimately brought down by cringey dialogue and unnecessary human baggage. 

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is in cinemas 29th March. 

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