Godzilla x Kong The New Empire Review: The Empire Strikes Out

Godzilla x Kong The New Empire Review: The Empire Strikes Out

There’s something wrong with Kong and Godzilla is all fired up in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Our review…

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire


Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is the fifth film in the Legendary Monsterverse and marks the second clash of the two titans. Following the events of 2021’s Godzilla Vs. Kong, the pair have reached an uneasy truce with Godzilla living on the surface and Kong roaming the subterranean ‘Hollow Earth’.

Keeping the two separated is the job of the Monarch organisation, overseen by top titan researcher Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall). Unfortunately, Kong has a toothache (a genuine plot point), meaning he must return to the surface world for Dan Stevens’ cool vet Trapper to administer some giant-sized dentistry. At the same time, strange seismic activity has awakened Godzilla, and he’s now back roaming the world (destroying more than a few historical monuments along the way) and radioactively charging himself up in preparation for a showdown.

The seismic activity also seems to be intrinsically linked with Andrews’ adopted ward, Jia (the last survivor of Kong’s caregiving tribe, the Iwi), and, realising that something big is brewing, she enlists the help of MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) and dives headfirst into the Hollow Earth to try and uncover the mystery and prevent the risk of a titanic grudge match.

There’s no denying that there is an audience for kaiju movies. Seeing giant beasts beating the seven bells out of each other can be undeniably fun and you can often forgive a lack of ‘sensible’ plot when the premise is this silly, but the creative team behind Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire seems to have given themselves a mission statement of ‘because it will look cool’ and decided to provide little other substance.

It’s frustrating as the characters of both Godzilla and King Kong have proven their staying power and relevance with countless movies that touch on deep themes of humanity and its struggle with nature. A Godzilla movie even won an Oscar this year, but make no mistake, it was not this one (psst it was Godzilla Minus One).

The human characters are largely irrelevant from a plot point of view, but thankfully all three leads, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens show up with a level of enthusiasm that in other hands could have left them as irritating side attractions. Stevens and Henry bring a fun, breezy buddy comedy element that helps keep the movie bouncing along through its agonising expositional script. There’s also some nice emotional interplay between Hall and the young Kaylee Hottle but the real emotional heart of the movie is Kong himself: a lonely ape desperately in search of connection and finding his place in the world.

This is a team-up movie and with a title like Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire we know that the two titans are going to do battle at some point, but boy do you have to wait for it. Yes there are supporting fights that provide an element of fun but when the pair finally do duke it out for the main event you’re so drained from the drudgery of its overlaboured, unnecessary and frankly baffling plot that you may well sleep through it.

Fans of the Legendary Monsterverse are undeniably going to show up for this movie. There’s fan service a-plenty, with tableau-like slo-mo shots that are guaranteed to raise a cheer but there is little else on offer. The frustratingly convoluted plot does nothing to compensate for what should be affectionate silliness and instead falls into the territory of a tiresome CGI slugfest.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire will be released in the UK on 29 March 2024