Film Critic Cameron Bowles reviews Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, finding it to be a vapid entry into the ‘MonsterVerse’

Written by camerondlb
2nd year English and Film student.

There’s something quite fun about the MonsterVerse. In spite of franchise fatigue in recent years, the shared universe has survived and at times flourished with an array of exciting and varied monster movies. However, Godzilla X Kong (2024) shows signs that the franchise may be faltering, retreading old ground instead of delivering fresh, awe-inspiring entertainment.

Following the clash of titans depicted in Godzilla vs Kong (2021), the most recent entry offers up a similarly absurd premise. Now reluctant friends, the two giants lie dormant on opposite sides of the oceanic crust, King Kong residing in the suitably named “Hollow Earth” whilst Godzilla takes naps in the Colosseum. These opening images promise dumb fun, something that director Adam Wingard aims to repeat throughout the rest of the film. After the emergence of a mysterious signal, Kong expert Ilene (Rebecca Hall) teams up with old flame Trapper (Dan Stevens) alongside conspiracy theorist Bernie (Bryan Tyree Henry) to unearth an undetected enemy. With all characters converging on Hollow Earth, a colossal punch-up promises to wreck humanity and potentially destroy both monsters.

More than anything, Godzilla X Kong plays like a Saturday morning cartoon, providing simple thrills and little else

The human element here is left largely untapped. Instead of centring the film around actual people, director Adam Wingard opts for bright, explosive action scenes – spectacle overrides any sense of real drama, leaving the film’s narrative feeling like a step down from the predecessor, which delivered a truly impressive fight and a crowd-pleasing monster exhibition. More than anything, Godzilla X Kong plays like a Saturday morning cartoon, providing simple thrills and little else. Much of the runtime is exchanged between expository human details and larger action set pieces where the real entertainment happens. The thinly written human characters are simply left to narrate what is going on, at times providing circumstantial humour.

The most significant issue here is the American treatment of the Godzilla mythos as a launching pad for Marvel-style blockbuster filmmaking; there’s far too much off-brand quippy humour here, with joke after joke falling flat. Tyree Henry tries his best to provide some levity but barely any of it works, Stevens doesn’t do much better, and Hall is incredibly dull. Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle, offers a unique dynamic as an indigenous deaf girl with a close connection to Kong, and is at least given something to work with once she discovers the surviving members of her tribe. The inclusion of “Baby Kong” aka. Suko also provides some superficial cuteness. Beyond this, there’s not much new to Godzilla X Kong, which mostly retreads MonsterVerse films that came before, to the extent that even the villains are dual replicates of the central monsters.

there’s far too much off-brand quippy humour here, with joke after joke falling flat

Whilst some monster movies only provide enjoyable spectacle, the originals have made their mark as being impactful explorations of serious subject matter and have since faced critical reappraisals for such thematic depth. King Kong (1933) is considered a visual effects masterpiece with deeper allusions to colonialism. Godzilla (1954) acts as a post-nuclear allegory for Japan in the aftermath of WW2, a theme that has been developed recently in Godzilla: Minus One (2023). There is no reason that these films can’t achieve such a quality. It might be easy to accept easy blockbuster shlock as an alternative to challenging, profound storylines, but why shouldn’t audiences demand more? It may be a little ridiculous to request higher quality material from a studio that produces simplistic, rather one-dimensional works, films that are about physical conflict and large-scale fights rather than any sort of cinematic reality.

An argument can be made that these films should be nothing more than dumb fun, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In many ways, the initial run of Toho Godzilla films were simply straightforward entertainment, but in American hands this reproduction of content seems rather repetitive. The previous Godzilla entry Minus One, for instance, has been critically lauded for taking such material seriously, and has become the first monster movie to win an Oscar for its visual effects. Could American versions ever achieve such titles? This one certainly won’t be winning Best Picture anytime soon.


For lack of a better phrase, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire does exactly what it says on the tin. Younger audiences might get something out of this, but those who treat these films as anything more serious won’t be particularly satiated. There’s talk of a sequel going ahead; the franchise isn’t over, but it should aim to grow beyond this and venture into new, more interesting areas. Those who haven’t watched this yet will know what they’re in for – big monkeys hitting giant lizards – for the second time around.

Rating: 2/5

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