‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ is a mega-sized slice of mindless escapist fun – just ignore all the collateral damage

You OK?: Kong gets upset in ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’.


Best thought of as a MonsterVerse block party where no property value is sacred, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a noisy, eminently silly big-screen matinee crowd-pleaser that offers a good time for all with lashings of otherworldly adventure and monster mayhem.

In return the movie asks only one thing: please turn off your brain before entering. It’ll help.

It doesn’t literally ask that, yet within the first five minutes the message comes through loud and clear as Kong expert Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall, reprising her role from Godzilla vs. Kong, to the glee of her agent, no doubt) explains the set up.

Kong, the giant ape who sports a beard and a longing to be with other giant apes, now lives in comparative contentment and comfort in an idyllic, verdant subterranean land called Hollow Earth.

On the surface, giant reptile Godzilla has taken residence in Rome, using the colosseum as a crash pad where he curls up in between battles with other monsters, keeping the world safe.

As long as the two adversaries are happy living in their separate realms, all is good and relatively peaceful.

But something suddenly starts upsetting Godzilla, who hungrily starts sucking up nuclear power, charging himself up for some unknown purpose.

After Kong briefly surfaces to get some dental work done (not a joke), Dr Andrews and her team follow him back down to Hollow Earth to investigate a psychic signal received by her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who also share a special bond with Kong.

Even in the realm of mass-market VFX-driven fantasy mulch it’s all quite loopy, which is part of the fun. Just be vigilant about keeping your brain in neutral otherwise you’ll take too much notice of all the collateral damage Kong and especially Godzilla cause.

Godzilla, for instance, though living among people doesn’t take much care while moving about, casually smashing bridges and buildings, presumably racking up a huge body count just by walking or taking a swim. Ah, well. It’s a small price to pay for having him on side.

If there is one annoying problem in this otherwise diverting, mindless piece of bubblegum entertainment it’s that there are too many humans in it.

Intriguingly, there are long stretches in the film where it’s just the monsters in the frame, relating, emoting and doing what monsters do so well, which is spoil for a fight.

Indeed, when Kong comes across a community of giant apes the film takes on the feel of a Planet of the Apes movie as the simians flail about and antagonize each other.

Thanks to the miracle of face mapping and motion capture technology, they communicate their thoughts and feelings so effectively you wonder if they could do one of these MonsterVerse movies without any human assistance at all.

Kong is even given a father role when he takes charge of a child ape. That in itself could make a nice movie. Just ape feelings. No humans required.

Take even passing notice of the plot lines in GxK – which is probably more than the filmmakers would like – and you’ll register how irrelevant the humans actually are.

There are only two story points where humans play a critical part. The rest of the time they’re just spouting exposition and providing light comedy relief.

To wit: one of the film’s most amusing moments, however unintentional, is when Dr Andrews and her team come across ancient wall carvings that conveniently explain in great detail what is going on with the whole Kong/Godzilla situation.

It’s a sweet old movie cliche, lovingly rendered here. Some of the pictures the good doctor deciphers even look suspiciously like storyboards.

As far as mindless, frame-filling escapism goes, the advent of Godzilla x Kong not only serves all reasonable expectations, it is very well-timed, arriving at a particularly distressing period in the world where there’s nothing more welcome than a big, noisy, fun distraction.

And, Kong knows, we need it.