Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024) Review – Takes Time to Get There But Delivers a Spectacularly Epic Payoff

Placing the two mighty Titans together as a tag team sounds like a lot of fun and exciting. Besides, we have seen Godzilla and Kong working together, albeit briefly to defeat Mechagodzilla during the climactic Hong Kong-set showdown in Godzilla vs. Kong.

Now, imagine expanding the tag-team idea into a major plot point that we might have another winner here in the MonsterVerse franchise. This leads us to Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, marking the return of Adam Wingard for the second time round as the director after doing a great job in the previous 2021 movie.

While I’m glad he’s back to direct the follow-up to Godzilla vs. Kong, I was initially sceptical about the surprisingly inferior CGI seen in the trailers, making me feel as if this is a rushed job to capitalise on the success of the 2021 movie. But after watching Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire in its entirety, the CGI doesn’t look as bad as I thought, where it thankfully retains the same spectacular visuals seen in Godzilla vs. Kong.

But first, the plot: In this direct sequel co-written by Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater, Kong continues to rule the Hollow Earth under the observation of the Monarch led by Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall, sporting a spunky and shorter hairstyle). Her adopted daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), in the meantime, struggling to adapt to the outside world as she can’t seem to keep up in school.

One day, she had a weird dream prompting her to draw rough sketches on paper during class — a clue that intrigues Ilene to decipher the meaning behind the sketches. She enlisted the help of conspiracy theorist and podcaster Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) and later, the Titan veterinarian Trapper (Dan Stevens) as they journey alongside Jia via the anti-gravity craft of HEAV (Hollow Earth Aerial Vehicle) deep into the Hollow Earth to uncover the mystery.

Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens in "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire" (2024)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire also introduced new titans including the mini Kong named Suko along with two antagonists, the simian Skar King and reptilian Shimo. If you are mainly watching this to see the gargantuan team-up between Godzilla and Kong, Wingard chose to take his time getting to that part. In other words, the bulk of this two-hour movie is spent telling separate stories between the human characters’ quest in the Hollow Earth, Kong’s encounter with other new Titans and Godzilla’s evolution of its atomic powers.

Sure, we still get to see respective Godzilla’s rampages and Kong’s monster smackdowns but frankly, I was expecting Wingard would speed up to the supposedly biggest selling point of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire — the team-up of these two Titans. The good news is that when the time finally arrives, the payoff is a blast of an epic showdown between Godzilla and Kong against their common titan enemies. More of this would be nice.

The introduction of new Titans, notably the sneaky Suko as I enjoy the mismatched duo between this mini ape and Kong. The same also goes for the formidable Skar King, the lanky crimson ape who proves to be a worthy adversary against Kong. Dan Stevens, who previously acted in Wingard’s The Guest, delivers an entertaining supporting turn as Trapper while Brian Tyree Henry, reprising his role as Bernie Hayes provides good comic relief.

If only the story could find a way to give us more screentime exploring the dysfunctional relationship between Godzilla and Kong uniting in a buddy-movie mould since Wingard was reportedly inspired by one of his favourite ’80s movies, Lethal Weapon. Personally, I still prefer Godzilla vs. Kong but Adam Wingard’s follow-up remains a decent, fun entry in the MonsterVerse franchise.