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Review: ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ brings all the big claws to the battlefield

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ is a fresh tale of kaijus vs. kaijus as the titans fight for humanity.

A scene from 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire'
A scene from 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire' courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
A scene from 'Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire' courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ is a fresh tale of kaijus vs. kaijus as the (subjectively) enormous titans fight for the fate of humanity.

The world is full of dangers from manmade weapons to ecological disasters. But in the world of movies, there’s another unpredictable threat capable of mass destruction that’s nearly impossible to stop: kaijus. With military forces barely able to make a scratch, these giant monsters’ only natural enemies are each other. Like aliens in our domain, they don’t belong. In some cases, humans disrupted the creatures’ native habitats or, worse still, ripped them from their homes and brought them into strange cities. In other instances, sensing the environmental harms being intensified around the globe, they arose from their deep slumbers to make things right. In Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, a fresh set of titans enter the arena.

Monarch is the government agency tasked with monitoring kaiju activity in and around Earth, and Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) is the head of the team that watches over Kong in Hollow Earth. Her adopted daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), maintains a strong connection with the colossal ape, but she’s having issues fitting into her new life on the surface. Meanwhile, Godzilla serves as humanity’s protector against the other kaijus that wreak havoc around the globe. However, there is an unidentified signal putting everyone and everything on edge. But with the help of conspiracy theorist Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) and kaiju vet Trapper (Dan Stevens), Illene and Jia are going back to Hollow Earth to figure it out. Whether it’s a warning or call for help, there is something else coming and the titans are preparing for the battle of a century.

Director Adam Wingard primarily made horror movies before entering the epic Monsterverse, first pitting the giant icons against each other and now placing them on the same side of a larger-than-life war. There’s a few separate stories unfolding for most of this picture as everyone is on their own mission to prepare for what’s coming, before their paths finally converge at the end. It’s big and the battles result in unparalleled destruction across several major cities, leaving audiences in wonder and bewilderment at the devastation that has become acceptable collateral damage for coexisting with these creatures.

However, in spite of the immensity of the characters, the film has a major issue with scale. These monsters are supposed to be hundreds of stories tall, but in many of the scenes it’s difficult to determine how big they really are. The camera angles do not covey size and unless they’re framed next to a skyscraper or human, there’s no way to gauge the kaijus’ enormity, which diminishes some of the narrative’s awesomeness. Nonetheless, the action sequences do not disappoint and the city battles are where their magnitude is most apparent and applicable. To further up the ante, Godzilla has levelled up with new atomic breath and Kong is sporting a shiny mech hand that makes him even stronger. The presence of an unexpectedly upbeat soundtrack that includes Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” and KISS’ “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” also adds a layer of entertainment to these scenes.

Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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