Godzilla X Kong - The New Empire Movie Review: Say what you want about the 2021 film Godzilla vs Kong -  it is indubitably an absurd film - but makes up for most of its awfulness in writing with some cheesily enjoyable monster fight scenes. Director Adam Wingard, who helmed that movie, at least understood what appealed to the fans and, therefore, fit in more creatures in the sequel, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, and even more B-movie action. The result is a similarly silly, schlocky, yet intermittently entertaining kaiju monster movie that has no regard for its human characters and complete disregard for historical monuments. I mean, why do these Titans always need to fight near tourist attractions like the Pyramids or the Colosseum? Why not in some green pasture in the backyard of Old McScrooge? Godzilla x Kong–The New Empire Review: Early Reactions Call Adam Wingard Directorial ‘The Most Enjoyable MonsterVerse Movie’ Packed With ‘Fun Kaiju Action’.

Set a few years after the events of GVK, Kong has settled himself in the Hollow Earth leading a solitary existence while dealing with a terrible toothache. Yes, we are living in that era of cinema where we get to see a dragon get a colonoscopy (Thanks, Dolittle) and a giant ape get a root canal.  Meanwhile, Godzilla is battling rogue Titans and flattening cities in the process before finding the next historical site that hasn't been destroyed to take some much-needed rest. However, some abnormal anomalies sensed in Hollow Earth force Kong and Godzilla to ditch their routine lives and discover what is causing them.

Watch the Trailer of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire:

And so are some of the human characters, like Dr  Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), her now-adopted daughter and Kong's human bestie Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the conspiracy theorist Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) and eccentric British vet Trapper (Dan Stevens). They discover two new hidden worlds in Hollow Earth, one of which threatens to destroy the Surface Earth.

Cheesy But Ridiculously Fun Monster Romp

Let's talk about what worked for me in the film. For a change, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire knows why the audience wants to watch the movie and doesn't compromise on delivering the visuality. Nearly all the monster action is done in daylight, allowing the VFX team to show off the effects in all their glory and not use the night scenes or darkness to camouflage the deficiencies. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire knows its identity as this homage to all B-movie monster films, especially the old Godzilla movies, and treats its action as such, even in how it frames the mighty lizard in some of its fighting scenes.

A Still From Godzilla X Kong

In my opinion, Kong: Skull Island was one of the better films in Legendary Films' MonsterVerse, if not the best (not that the benchmark is that high in this franchise). I am glad that Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire returns to a similar setting here, allowing a sense of viewer wonder and fascination through its exploration of Hollow Earth and the many creatures and mysteries it houses.

GxK - A Sneaky Telugu Potboiler?

The screenplay is expectedly kitschy, but what amused me the most is how Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire turns itself into an Indian potboiler cinema, like the dacoit sagas that once used to rule Bollywood, or for the matter, even recent films like KGF, where a hero rides into to take down a villain and save a village. You even have a mighty ape wearing a bandolier-like bone chain across its body and chomping on leg pieces while his acolytes make others gruel and work.

All that was left was an item song.

A Still From Godzilla X Kong

In the climactic fight, there are also some cool 'mass' moments, like the scene where Kong and Godzilla run towards their rivals (flaunted so proudly in the trailers) before slowing it down for a glorious slo-mo frame that would make SS Rajamouli proud. And to sweeten the deal, there is also a mini-Kong, a new sidekick for Kong, to sell more toys for the franchise. Godzilla vs Kong Movie Review: An Epic Monster Bash Dragged Down by a Disjointed Plot.

A Still From Godzilla X Kong

Humans Suck... Again!

While the uproarious B-movie treatment of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is enjoyable in parts, the overall silliness of the film and the writing dampen the fun. The main human roster -  while thankfully reductive compared to the earlier films - is still the film's weakest part, yet eats too much of its screentime, even making Godzilla feel like an addon to a movie whose title begins with its name. While Millie Bobby Brown has ditched the franchise to lead her own Netflix films, the (re)inclusion of Brian Tee Henry makes little sense. Why would you need to bring a conspiracy theorist to a secret place you want the external world to know as little as possible? Or, for the matter, why would you bring a kid on a journey that, in its incursion itself, looks like you need astronaut training for the same?

A Still From Godzilla X Kong

The whole adopted daughter subplot between Ilene and Jia, which gets tested with a Stargate-like subplot involving a hidden civilisation, lacks the warmth needed to make it stand in a film where a mighty ape beheads a water dragon. Then we have Dan Stevens, who fills in the franchise's need for good-looking white lead heroes, who gets replaced with every film. Save for Jia, who is made responsible for (somehow) bringing back a dead Titan, none of the human characters truly matter except pushing exposition on whatever is happening on screen and bringing pretty convenient stuff out of nowhere to the chaos. Considering there is also Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - which belongs to the same universe as these films - that shows how to balance good human drama with effective kaiju action, it is never that impossible.

A Franchise That Hates Humans to the Core

Even more disconcerting is Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire's utter dismissal of human lives. Notwithstanding the millions of (unseen) humans killed in populated cities (none of which is in the US) when the hero Titans save the day, when a beast kills a character who travels with the main cast, it is treated as a moment of amusement.

A Still From Godzilla X Kong

Still, what's bigger popcorn entertainment than seeing a giant lizard (with a punk makeover) and a huge ape tag team vanquish their enemies and blast nuclear breaths? Never mind, the resultant collateral damage can be termed as genocide at best.

Final Thoughts on Godzilla x Kong

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a whimsical, cheesy, and intermittently entertaining monster romp of a film, offering precisely what one anticipates — unless, of course, one expected a more cerebral and sophisticated cinematic experience. If only the filmmakers had tempered some of the absurdity and crafted the human subplots with greater finesse or harnessed the talents of the talented actors in a more impactful manner, Godzilla x Kong could have transcended being merely a moderately enjoyable one-time watch. By the way, when will Godzilla Minus One be released in India?


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 28, 2024 10:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).