Movie Review: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire: Titan Brawl Delivers, at the Expense of its Story

By Ica Hontiveros-Cheng

Like my good friend Karen, I’m a Godzilla Girlie. Maybe it comes with our fascination with Japanese culture. Did you know that Godzilla has Japanese citizenship? In 2015, Japan granted Godzilla Japanese citizenship and even named him Tourist Ambassador of Shinjuku Tokyo. Pretty neat huh?

Previously in the Monsterverse…

I’ve followed the Hollywood Godzilla and Kong movies, I remember watching the 1998 Godzilla movie as a kid. Maybe even watching reruns of it on HBO. Although looking back at it now, that movie was such a disservice to Godzilla. I think Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ (2005) movie really traumatized me with the giant insects eating all those people. When I saw Kong: Skull Island in 2017, I was pregnant with my son, I enjoyed the 70s music (which I think they carried throughout the other films, we definitely have a lot of 70s-80s needle drops in the new Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire film, but I’ll get to that later) and of course, it was a treat to see Tom Hiddleston and Alicia Vikander in that one. As a music fan, I loved hearing Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ and all those 70’s choppers with their blades humming in the IMAX theater.

I remember enjoying ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and seeing it in IMAX with friends and really just cheering as we watched it on the big screen. Godzilla VS Kong,  came out during the pandemic and thus meant seeing it on the small screen instead of the big screen, the thing that I remember most about it is the song in the closing credits ‘The Air That I Breathe’ by the Hollies. I remember just liking the song as it played while Kong was enjoying a morning stroll in Hallow Earth. Which probably says that the movie was forgettable. Maybe I should do a rewatch? Definitely itching to re-watch ‘King of the Monsters’.      

 I’m still waiting for the chance to see the Academy Award winning film ‘Godzilla Minus One’ on the big screen. Another thought, maybe I should start watching the Japanese Godzilla films too eh? So yeah, I think I know my way around the Godzilla and Kong films.    

I recently saw the series, ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ on Apple TV+ and I loved it so much. I’ve been singing praises all over social media. I said that I would have given the series a perfect 5 out of 5 if not for Anna Sawai’s character Cate Randa. Who I found to be annoying. Thankfully, her portrayal of Mariko in ‘Shogun’ (another wonderful series) is admirable and commendable. But that’s for another review. I digress. 

One is not like the other 

So yes, I loved ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ so much. It was carefully and intricately written, slowly tying in with the other Godzilla movies. It also takes time and care to deal with the human trauma and destruction that comes after a kaiju attack. So imagine my surprise and well honestly disappointment when all of this is thrown out the window in the latest monsterverse film, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Godzilla goes on a world tour, stomping on cities and causing destruction in his wake, needless to say, this has a ton of human casualties but the film doesn’t seem too concerned about it, nor do they address it in the course of the movie. Or maybe an ad played in the film for Kaiju insurance is its morbid way of showing the audience what living with kaijus is like. This is kind of frustrating though, after Monarch gives importance to the loss and trauma that comes after Godzilla walks through your city.  

Also, there were no Japanese actor/s while before there would be at least one or two (Ken Watanabe, Shun Oguri) I guess, Godzilla’s Japanese citizenship is enough to cover Asian representation? 

I was also scratching my head as to (spoilers ahead) how the film The New Empire throws away some of the things which were established in the last few films, mostly concerning Kong, Jia (Kaylee Hottle – who had a growth spurt since Godzilla VS Kong) and Mothra, these are spoilers, so I will leave it at that. 

But what gets my goat the most, is the dry exposition and lore dump, complete with hieroglyphics and drawings on the wall, that just conveniently fits everything in a nice puzzle, that ties up everything in a nice bow.  

Titan Rumble – Check! 

What the movie does provide is an entertaining Titan Brawl from Godzilla and Kong and a massive team up from the two, facing off against a new baddie. Who, you just don’t care about. If you are looking for big fights, then Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire delivers. So yes, it is worth it to see on the big screen, for all its sound and glory. You’ll just have to turn your brain off when it comes to logic and storytelling. I did enjoy Dan Stevens’ Kaiju veterinarian character. Actually, the first time I smiled was when he came on screen. Coming in to give Kong a tooth extraction while ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ was blaring was a pretty cool entrance, it also helps that he is Dan Stevens and he has that rugged look about him. He was just having fun with it and it was infectious, despite my misgivings about the story and plot. Petition to keep him in the next MonsterVerse movie please.

The story might have left me wanting more but the Titan action delivers and well, that may be enough for audiences, it definitely was cute when Godzilla curled up like a cat to sleep in the Coliseum. And yes, director Adam Wingard was inspired by his cat with that bit.

While this Godzilla girlie may have been looking for more storywise, the kaiju battles were fun and entertaining and as a member of #TeamGodzilla you can count me to be in a theater to see him duke it out with kaijus and titans, any day. Now to go on ahead and re-watch Godzilla: King of Monsters.