‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Review: Strong Action Sequences Cannot Save a Bad Script

Godzilla x Kong is an entertaining way to pass two hours, yet its poor script and lack of character development stop it from being truly great.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Since Godzilla hit theaters in 2014, each installment has promised to be ‘bigger and better’ than the last. With more carnage, more monsters and more uncharted territory, Godzilla x Kong sees the two titular beasts put their past battles behind them, joining forces to defeat a colossal undiscovered threat hidden within our world. With action aplenty and visually pleasing world-building, Godzilla x Kong is an entertaining way to pass two hours, yet its poor script and lack of character development stop it from being truly great.

Seeing these monsters battle it out is an undeniably fun shlock fest; Godzilla x Kong’s issue is that it takes too long to get there. With new characters to meet, new territory to discover and new threats to understand the danger of, there’s a lot of exposition, a very small amount of which is entertaining – it unfortunately reduces itself to hand-holding. The first two acts of this movie are a mixture of drab dialogue, cringe-worthy jokes and underdevelopment of its characters. The performances behind our human characters are good, especially from leading lady Rebecca Hall and her on-screen daughter Kaylee Hottle, but we still don’t get a deep enough dive into their characters as we should. There is an interesting arc for Hottle’s character Jia, as she struggles to find her place in the world and goes on a journey of self-discovery, but it’s unfortunately rushed over. Talented actors Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens are reduced to corny, unfunny jokes. This franchise has always failed to do its human characters justice, and unfortunately, Godzilla x Kong is not exempt from this.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

The majority of the run-time is spent in Hollow Earth, which is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the visuals are utterly stunning from start to finish, with terrific world-building and plenty of exciting new territory to explore. Each frame is packed with color and life, with luscious green landscapes, enticing waterfalls and electric pinks and blues that pop off the screen. The filmmakers paid attention to the visuals, and it pays off – it’s astonishing to look at. There is an awful lot of CGI, but it’s hard to balk when it looks this good. There are also plenty of beasts outside of our titular two, both on land and in the sky, helping to bring Hollow Earth to life. It’s a fantasy world that’s fun to enter, allowing you to make discoveries along the way alongside our characters. Fans of the franchise will enjoy meeting the monsters Godzilla x Kong has on offer. The one issue with the Hollow Earth setting is that our monsters fit tidily into it; it’s a large world, fit for our large characters. The most entertaining thing about Godzilla, Kong and the rest of these beasts is that they’re absolutely huge – this is what provides the shock factor and makes it stand out. We can gauge their scope when they’re in our world, stepping over buildings, crushing cars and headbutting bridges. However, this element gets lost within Hollow Earth – they almost become regular animals.

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Judging the character development and depth of the script seems futile when audiences are here for one thing only: the action. When our beasts are battling it out, Godzilla x Kong is an entertaining, crowd-pleasing ride. Never taking itself too seriously, it understands the dumb fun that can be had within this world, and it certainly delivers on the shlock and carnage. Kong is front and center here, and there are plenty of unearthly villains for him to take down even before the climax begins. Making friends with a young Kong along the way, the pair make for an entertaining and sweet dynamic duo. Godzilla might be more underutilized than we’d expect, but once he’s back up and running, he’s as menacing as ever. The radiation running through him makes him look very cool, it’s hard not to grin when he’s in action, atomic breath and all. It was incredibly entertaining to see Godzilla and Kong battle it out in 2021’s addition to the franchise, and it’s equally as fun to see them join forces here to fight others. There’s some humor injected into the final battle sequence as the two become an unstoppable tag team, using WWE moves whilst helping each other to defeat their nemesis.

Godzilla x Kong is the epitome of a popcorn flick; whilst not providing much in the way of characters, depth or storyline, it makes up for it with entertaining action and dumb yet fun fight sequences. The script is bad, with too many jokes that fall flat and plenty of missed opportunities in the way of theme exploration. Talent is wasted, the try-hard needle drops don’t fit, the exposition-heavy scenes are uninteresting and unnecessary and the story is more convoluted than it needs to be. Once our monsters are in fight mode, it’s incredibly entertaining and becomes worth the viewing – it’s just a shame it takes too long to get there. The only consistently good trait is the visuals – it always looks the part.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Review: Strong Action Sequences Cannot Save a Bad Script
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Becca Johnson

Becca is a Rotten Tomato-approved freelance critic from Essex, UK, with a penchant for horror and coming-of-age. She can mainly be found at Film Focus Online, where she is Senior Writer. She specialises in new release reviews, rankings and Top 10's.

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