Action Adventure

Review: ‘Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire’ is a Larger-than-Life Sequel That Isn’t Afraid to Embrace the Absurdity of Its Heritage

March 28, 2024Ben MK

Ever since their inception, Godzilla and King Kong have catered to a certain demographic. Whether it's their early black-and-white incarnations, the campiness of their '70s-era adventures, or more dramatic retellings like Peter Jackson's King Kong and Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, watching these titans of cinema wreak havoc on everything that crosses their path is arguably as pure and primal as the moviegoing experience gets. It's this very same guiding principle that has helped Legendary's Monsterverse franchise become the massive success that it is. And with its latest installment, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, the series is celebrating the culmination of all its efforts, in this over-the-top adventure that sees its two titular characters teaming up to save our planet from annihilation.

Set in the aftermath of 2021's Godzilla vs. Kong, the story finds Kong, the once-mighty ruler of Skull Island and the last surviving member of his tribe, lonely and in a rut. With his former kingdom destroyed and his battle with the King of the Monsters having ended with an uneasy truce, Kong has come to call the fantastical subterranean realm known as the Hollow Earth home. Yet, even though he has more than ample space to roam and do whatever he pleases, he can't quite shake the feeling that something is missing. It's a predicament that has left the gargantuan ape restless and depressed, despite the relative serenity he's now able to enjoy. But when a painful tooth injury forces him to make his way back to the surface world, where Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), Titan veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens), and their fellow colleagues at Monarch have the technology to heal his wounds, it marks the beginning of a chain of events that could very well spell the end of all mankind.

Enter Godzilla, who has been doing his part in Kong's absence by singlehandedly taking on all Titans who dare to challenge his reign as the most powerful creature on Earth. As humanity's de facto protector against Titans of all species, Godzilla has forged a tenuous alliance with those who once considered him a threat to their existence. However, when the reptilian behemoth starts preparing himself to face a new and much more intimidating adversary, it sends Monarch into crisis mode, as the organization also scrambles to investigate a mysterious signal emanating from the deepest regions of the Hollow Earth. It's a mission that will require Ilene to recruit the world's foremost Godzilla expert, vlogger Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), as he, Ilene, Trapper and Ilene’s adopted daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), embark on a journey to locate the signal's source. When they find it, though, will they be ready to do what they must in order to join the inevitable battle to come?

Directed by Adam Wingard, what follows will see Godzilla and Kong buddying up to defeat a deadly new aggressor known as the Skar King, a giant, tyrannical ape intent on conquering the entire planet. Audiences need not worry, though, for although the movie's plot may not sound like anything special on paper, the result proves to be a worthwhile experience on the big screen, as Wingard and company throw everything they've got into The New Empire to make it the most outrageous, visually enthralling and sonically mesmerizing Monsterverse entry to date. From the film's neon-saturated hues to its retro synth score, it's a far cry from how the franchise began a decade ago. Still, with Godzilla Minus One having just recently packed a weighty dramatic punch at the box office, it's refreshing to be able to sit back and revel in watching a lighthearted blockbuster that isn't afraid to embrace the absurdity of its heritage while poking fun at the genre's many tropes and clichés.

The Monsterverse equivalent of a movie like Hobbs & Shaw, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is a sequel that doesn't take itself too seriously, standing tall on the foundation established by its predecessors, while also delivering a winning formula that will leave fans wanting more. Suffice to say, this isn't the last moviegoers will see of these two Titans. And while it's all but guaranteed that the pair will return for a future adventure, one thing's for certain — it's going to be hard to top this larger-than-life duo's latest cinematic crossover.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire releases March 29th, 2024 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for creature violence and action. Its runtime is 1 hr. 55 min.

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