Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024) poster

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)


USA. 2024.


Director – Adam Wingard, Screenplay – Simon Barrett, Terry Rossio & Jeremy Slater, Story – Simon Barrett, Terry Rossio & Adam Wingard, Producers – Alex Garcia, Eric McLeod, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers & Thomas Tull, Photography – Ben Seresin, Music – Antonio Di Iorio & Tom Holkenborg, Visual Effects Supervisor – Alessandro Ongaro, Visual Effects/Animation – Weta FX Limited (Supervisor – Kevin Andrew Smith, Animation Supervisor – Ludovic Chailloleau), Visual Effects – Baked Studios (Supervisor – George A. Loucas), DNeg (Supervisors – Paul Franklin & Aleks Pejic, Animation Supervisor – Spencer Cook), Luma Pictures (Supervisor – Adam Hammond), Savage Visual Effects (Supervisor – James Pastorious), Scanline VFX (Supervisor – Nick Crew) & Supervixen (Supervisors – Daniel Bavell & Morten Rowley), Special Effects Supervisors – Bruce Bright & Mike Meinardus, Creature Design – Legacy Effects (Supervisor – Lindsey MacGowan) & Weta Workshop Limited, Prosthetic Designer – Jason Baird, Prosthetic/Makeup Effects – JMB FX Studios, Production Design – Tom Hammock. Production Company – Legendary Pictures.


Rebecca Hall (Dr Ilene Andrews), Brian Tyree Henry (Bernie Hayes), Dan Stevens (Trapper), Kaylie Hottle (Jia), Alex Ferns (Mikael), Fala Chen (Iwi Queen), Rachel House (Hampton)


Monarch picks up strange signals coming from the Hollow Earth. Dr Ilene Andrews believes that her adopted daughter, the Iwi orphan Jia, is picking up psychic impulses of the same. They also observe Godzilla acting strangely on the surface, absorbing more radiation as though in preparation for a coming battle. Ilene and several others venture on an expedition down to the Hollow Earth. In search of his own kind, Kong explores an uncharted area and comes across the tyrannical ape Star King who rules other apes with a sceptre that grants control over an ice-breathing titan. This new threat brings Godzilla and Kong, along with a reawakened Mothra, together to fight Star King’s attempts to reconquer the surface.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is the fifth film in Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers so-called Monsterverse. This began with Godzilla (2014) and followed through Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019), before the two monsters were brought together to square off in Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). Director Adam Wingard and several of the principal cast from that film return here. Godzilla x Kong comes out a mere five months after Toho released the 33rd Japanese Godzilla film Godzilla: Minus One (2023), which received the most rapturous applause of any of their films and the Academy Award for Best Special Effects. That ended up being a sleeper success that outshone Godzilla x Kong.

Godzilla x Kong’s problem is that Legendary Pictures have attempted to build a MCU-styled shared universe out of their hold on the Godzilla and King Kong franchises. They built this up with uneven effect through the earlier films and allowed it to come together with appealing results in Godzilla vs. Kong. However, the problems of trying to create another MCU become readily apparent when they try to do more of the same here.

The MCU idea of a shared universe worked well by creating a series of individual adventures leading to the anticipation of a huge event film where everybody comes together. This kind of lead up started well for the Monsterverse with Godzilla 2014 and Kong: Skull Island, not as accomplished as the MCU, but okay. However, as with other series that attempt to create shared universes – a good example being the DCEU, which tried to leap from just one introductory film Man of Steel (2013) to a shared universe with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – the filmmakers get impatient with doing the groundwork and try to jump the gun, going to a full team-up without establishing the participants as identifiable characters in their own films first. The MCU took five films before bringing the characters together in The Avengers (2012). By contrast, the Monsterverse gave us Godzilla 2014 and Kong: Skull Island and then leapt into a bunch of familiar Toho monsters fighting one another in King of Monsters, before the big match that the Monsterverse had been building up to with Godzilla vs. Kong.

Godzilla and Kong in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)
Godzilla and Kong

The problem here was that King of Monsters took iconic monsters like Mothra and Ghidrah/Ghidorah that had been built up as separate nemeses through successive Toho films and reduced them to no more than supporting villains, while Godzilla vs. Kong did the same with Mecha-Godzilla, both with mediocre results. And then the Monsterverse just went for the biggest match it could conceive within its universe by bringing its two titans together in Godzilla vs. Kong. The problem that Godzilla x Kong has is after that, what do you do for an encore? When the Monsterverse series has used up its most identifiable Japanese monsters on throwaway bit parts, it loses the opportunity to craft them as separate nemeses. Mothra again turns up here to join the fight but its addition to the fray is negligible.

So here, having tossed away monsters that have great pasts, the series is reliant on coming up with new nemeses that have zero recognition factor. And the result is fairly underwhelming – an evil ape conqueror that looks like a castoff from the Planet of the Apes reboot series who wields a magic axe and rides a dinosaur that blasts ice instead of radioactive breath. There are a couple of other throwaway monster encounters that Godzilla engages in. You cannot help but think that if the series hadn’t thrown away any of Ghidorah, Mothra or Mecha-Godzilla they would have made for a much more epical and interesting nemesis than Star King here does. Godzilla x Kong feels like a sequel that has hit the most epic height that the limitation of its series’ IP can conceive and is trying to go “the same as before bit a little bit more” and falling on its face. The most successful addition to the canon is the child ape Suko that Kong adopts, which in effect becomes the series equivalent of The Son of Kong (1933). The CGI used in its fearful and child-like array of expressions is the best in the film.

The other killer of these Godzilla vs./X Kong films is their bad scripting and dependence on Bad Science. I discussed the absurdity of the idea of an entire Hollow Earth apparently with its own sunlight in the Godzilla vs. Kong review and we get even more of the same here. It is also a film that figures the intellectual level for the series is down around the same for children’s cartoons and writes scripting accordingly. There are plotting absurdities like Kaylie Hottle drawing a series of jagged spikes and then Rebecca Hall automatically assuming they are the same as the graphic readings from underground (as opposed to say any other spiky representations like mountains or even teeth). And when one of the first scenes of the film involves Dan Stevens being airlifted in to conduct giant ape dentistry on Kong, you aren’t sure whether you should be laughing or finding it cute.

Star King in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)
The nemesis of Star King

The film is really down around the level of the worst ever work to come out with the Godzilla or Kong name – Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) and Kong, King of Atlantis (2005). Most of the characters are written as caricatures – Kaylie Hottle is the cute kid and her displaced orphan status subplot plays all the heart-strings it can – the saddest aspect of this is watching Rebecca Hall, who has established herself as a fine actress elsewhere, reduced to delivering simple-minded emotional cues. Bryan Tyree Henry has the racially dubious caricature that was popular in the 1990s of the Black guy whose only real purpose on the expedition is to be comically scared or deliver flip lines. Dan Stevens plays the Han Solo type of the expedition, the recklessly carefree screw-up who comes to the fore in action (about the only cliché is that we don’t first meet him drunken in a bar).

Adam Wingard first appeared with the horror film Home Sick (2007) and then gained festival acclaim with the hallucinatory horror Pop Skull (2007). He followed this with indie films such as A Horrible Way to Die (2010), You’re Next (2011) and the non-genre likes of What Fun We’re Having (2011) and Autoerotic (2011), gaining more mainstrem work with The Guest (2014), Blair Witch (2016), the English-language remake of Death Note (2017). He has also directed episodes of a number of multi-director anthologies, including The ABCs of Death (2012), V/H/S (2012) and V/H/S/2 (2013).

The Japanese Godzilla films are:– Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Monster Zero/Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), Godzilla vs the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1968), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla’s Revenge (1969), Godzilla vs the Smog Monster/Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs Gigan/Godzilla on Monster Island (1972), Godzilla vs Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs the Cosmic Monster/Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster/Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974), Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976), Godzilla 1985 (1984), Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992), Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1993), Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), Shin Godzilla/Godzilla: Resurgence (2016) and Godzilla Minus One (2023), plus the anime Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017), Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018) and Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018). Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1998) was an earlier English-language version.

The other King Kong films are:-

  • The original film was King Kong (1933) starring Fay Wray, which produced a likeably silly sequel The Son of Kong (1933)
  • In the 1960s, Japan’s Toho Studios revived Kong to take on their biggest star in King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) and then spun Kong off for a solo effort King Kong Escapes (1967)
  • Producer Dino De Laurentiis made the infamous remake King Kong (1976) starring Jessica Lange, which is reviled by all fans of the original. De Laurentiis then later made an even worse sequel King Kong Lives (1986)
  • Peter Jackson made a further remake King Kong (2005) starring Naomi Watts, which extrudes the elements of the original out into a superb epic
  • There were two animated tv series with the Japanese The King Kong Show (1966-8) and then the US made Kong: The Animated Series (2000-1). The latter also had two films spinoffs with Kong, King of Atlantis (2005) and Kong: Return to the Jungle (2006)
  • Kong also makes cameos in The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Ready Player One (2018) and Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021). There have been numerous spoofs most notedly Queen Kong (1976) and an adult version Kinky Kong (2006).

  • Trailer here

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