Monster Movie Mayhem: Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire


Tiger Media Network

“Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire” is the latest film in the Monsterverse, Legendary’s cinematic universe between Godzilla and King Kong. If you want to know my thoughts on the previous entries in the Monsterverse, check out my “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” review where I talked about the other movies for a little bit too long, but if you’re too lazy to read that review, “Godzilla” 2014 is decent, “Kong Skull Island” is the best one, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” sucks, “Godzilla vs. Kong” sucks, and “Monarch” is okay.

Because I don’t have the highest opinion on the Monsterverse, I really wasn’t all that excited about “Godzilla X Kong.” From the trailers, it looked bad. I only got any sort of sympathy for the film when YouTube video essay guys kept comparing it to “Godzilla Minus One” before release, acting like fun Godzilla movies shouldn’t be allowed, and it’s usually pretty obvious most of these video essay guys haven’t seen that many Godzilla movies. So what do I think of “Godzilla X Kong”?

Let’s start with the story. The film starts a bit after the previous film. Kong is chilling in the Hollow Earth just relaxing, Godzilla is on the surface beating the crap out of the other monsters, and Monarch is monitoring all the different monsters. Meanwhile, the little Skull Island girl from the previous film, Jia, who can communicate with Kong, is having a rough time in school. Partially because she doesn’t feel like she fits in and partially because she keeps having mysterious visions. Her mom, Dr. Andrews, decides to go to the conspiracy theory guy from the last movie, Bernie, because he’s the only person crazy enough to have any sort of explanation, and ultimately, they decide to head into the Hollow Earth, following Kong down after he came up because of a tooth infection. 

Our main characters end up splitting up from Kong and get stranded in the hostile jungles of the Hollow Earth. Meanwhile, Kong manages to find others of his species. However, they don’t like him. At the same time, Godzilla is going around the surface absorbing energy from all over the world, first attacking a nuclear power plant, and then going after another monster to absorb his powers. Anyways, Kong sort of makes friends with this baby monkey who leads him to the other apes, and just in time, our characters find people living in the Hollow Earth who are able to explain some prophecy about this big monkey named Skar King, right as Kong encounters the evil monkey for himself. Skar King also has control of this ice lizard named Shimo. They’re too much for Kong to handle, so he’s forced to go to the surface to ask Godzilla for help, but Godzilla just wants to beat the crap out of Kong. Will they be able to team up and defeat Skar King and Shimo?

Godzilla and Kong charge into battle.

As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this film, and I actually omitted a lot to keep it as brief as possible and avoid spoilers since this is a pretty new movie. Does the story work? No. To be fair, there is some interesting stuff here, and the first half isn’t too bad, but as the film goes on, it gets pretty messy as the film throws a bunch of stuff at you all at once. Some aspects of the plot are set up, but a lot also just happens out of nowhere. Combining this with three different stories that are all happening at the same time, creates for a very messy film that moves at a breakneck speed. 

Fortunately, the film is supported by the best cast we’ve gotten in a Monsterverse film in a long time. The characters from “Godzilla vs. Kong” that people actually liked and found interesting return, like Jia, the deaf girl with a connection to Kong and is the last of the Skull Island people… until they find more underground. As well as Bernie, the best comic relief these films have gotten since “Kong Skull Island.” There are also a few new members of the cast, some good like Trapper, who’s basically a vet for monsters, who plays well off of Bernie, but then there’s also this one random Monarch soldier that’s forgettable and might as well be credited with the name “Cannon Fodder.” There’s also Jia’s adopted mom from the last movie, Dr. Andrews, who’s pretty boring, but is kind of important. It’s certainly not the best cast I’ve seen in a monster movie, but they get the job done, are fairly entertaining, and aren’t annoying like the cast of “Godzilla King of the Monsters.” 

Dr. Andrews and Trapper preparing to head into the Hollow Earth.

Then there are, of course, the giant monsters themselves. While Godzilla’s name comes first in the title, this is a Kong-centered story, but that’s okay. While his story of wanting to find others of his kind is pretty played out, it’s definitely the best aspect of the plot. There’s also the baby Kong that he forms a bond with, who has a bit of a character arc. These two end up creating just flat-out funny moments that had the entire theater laughing. I won’t spoil them because they are worth the surprise. They are totally unexpected unless you’ve already seen the clips online. 

Godzilla, on the other hand, is just kind of alright. I’m not a fan of the way Godzilla has been portrayed in these last two Monsterverse movies. He’s just weirdly aggressive and mean. Now, I’m not saying they can’t do that in any Godzilla movie, but he behaves very differently than he did in “Godzilla” and “Godzilla King of the Monsters,” and it’s a bit off-putting. The big talking point with Godzilla is, of course, his design. I don’t have any problem with him having pink spikes; Godzilla has had purple spikes in the past, like in “Godzilla 2000”, but my problem is with the weirdly thin midsection and the extra spikes. Overall, I’m just not big on the design.

We then get to the villains, Skar King and Shimo. Skar King is a pretty decent antagonist, they give him some relationship with Godzilla via an exposition dump, and he’s got a cool design and I like that he uses a weapon. Shimo, on the other hand, I’m not too big on the design of, but I like that she’s not evil but is instead controlled by Skar King who has some sort of magic crystal that hurts her. It ends up creating an interesting duo.

Kong comes face to face with Shimo!

The monsters all come together in some pretty solid action sequences that are definitely a step up from some of the fights from the previous films. Some are short and brutal, some have hilarious moments, and some have interesting set pieces around them that allow for some unique engagements. The fight scenes are what people are here for, and they do not disappoint. 

Unfortunately, the action is backed by one of the worst Godzilla soundtracks of all time. I don’t know why they brought the composer from the last film back, but congratulations Junkie XL for making the two worst Godzilla soundtracks; we can only hope for a third…

“Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire” is far from the best Godzilla film, it’s far from the best Kong film, but it’s easily the third best Monsterverse movie… out of five. It manages to have fun action, fun characters, and some actually funny moments; however, it’s held back by a bad story and one of the worst Godzilla soundtracks of all time. It’s a fun ride but nothing too special. I give this film five “blown up wonders of the world” ten!

Connor Keating is a junior at Fort Hays State University, studying digital media and journalism. Connor is an old-school movie fan, particularly Japanese monster movies, and is an avid DVD collector.