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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Kong x Godzilla
Photograph: Warner Bros.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

It’s not clever, but it is big

Nobody cares about the plot. That’s the arguably depressing but also self-aware lesson the King Kong/Godzilla franchise seems to have learned. After a number of entries that half-tried to create humans you cared about or allegories for whatever, 2021’s Godzilla Vs. Kong was primarily just a showcase for big things hitting each other and was far more entertaining than any of its predecessors. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has a greater number of big things and a smaller number of humans. Its brainless brawn is again pretty entertaining, until the credits roll and you can instantly forget the whole thing.

Its set-up is that Kong is now living in the Hollow Earth, a parallel world full of giant monsters. He is lonely, continually hunting for others like him. When he eventually finds kin it’s no great family reunion. They’re led by an evil ape, who looks kind of like an orangutan going through an awkward teenage growth phase and is plotting to make his way to the world above. Thwarting this requires Kong to team up with Godzilla, who is gallumphing around the world looking for fights, and a few humans who fill in the bits between the CGI.

That’s about as complex as it gets. There’s no human antagonist. There’s no significant development in the existing characters (Rebecca Hall as a scientist, Kaylee Hottle as her adopted daughter, and Brian Tyree Henry as the requisite comedy screamer). There’s a pleasing addition to the cast in Dan Stevens’ kaiju-handling veteran, introduced via a silly dental sequence, but by no stretch is he essential to the plot. It’s just an excuse for monster spectacle, as it probably should be. 

Godzilla destroys most of Rome and a good swathe of Egypt

The fights are slick, frequent and noisy. Godzilla destroys most of Rome and a good swathe of Egypt. Kong does battle with an ice creature in a volcanic underground lair. It’s not pushing the envelope of giant monster movies, but it’s fun. The Kong scenes are by far the best parts of the film. As he meets others of his own kind there’s an attempt to tell a story through ape grunts and CG eyes. It works. We can tell what he’s feeling. It makes you wonder whether an inevitable future film might be more interesting without any human element. 

If you want to see massive creatures leveling cities, that’s exactly what you’ll get. If you’re looking for anything more than that, well, you should know by now that you’re in the wrong place. 

In cinemas worldwide Mar 29

Olly Richards
Written by
Olly Richards

Cast and crew

  • Director:Adam Wingard
  • Screenwriter:Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett, Jeremy Slater
  • Cast:
    • Dan Stevens
    • Rebecca Hall
    • Brian Tyree Henry
    • Kaylee Hottle
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