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Godzilla x Kong is the most enjoyable MonsterVerse movie yet

Godzilla and King Kong both had successful soft reboots to establish the MonsterVerse, but attempts at expanding the universe have proven less successful.

Both Godzilla: King of the Monsters (which pitted Godzilla against King Ghidorah and other titans) and Godzilla vs Kong (which, obviously, pitted Godzilla against Kong) suffered a similar issue: humans. The movies couldn't find a way to successfully blend the titan-smashing with a worthy human story.

Godzilla vs Kong made steps in the right direction with Jia's connection to Kong, but still fell back on the clichéd 'humans are the real monsters' story. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire solves the problem by finally putting the focus on the titans themselves.

It might not be flawless, but it's a consistently entertaining, huge-scale blockbuster and one where it feels like everybody involved finally understood the assignment.

godzilla, godzilla x kong the new empire
Warner Bros.

Following the events of Godzilla vs Kong, there's an uneasy truce between the two titans. If they stick to their own lanes – Godzilla fighting the battles on the surface that humanity can't, while Kong hangs out in his new home in Hollow Earth – then all is well in the world.

This status quo wouldn't make for much of a movie though, so, like in the previous movie, Godzilla and Kong find themselves on a collision course when a sinkhole in Hollow Earth frees an ancient threat.

If you're concerned this all sounds too familiar, then you can rest assured that Godzilla x Kong avoids the convoluted plotting of previous movies. Here, the story is pared down significantly to focus on both Kong and Jia (Kaylee Hottle) – both the last of their tribe – trying to find a home within Hollow Earth.

Godzilla is around, but our favourite scaly boy is mostly just on a solo juicing spree across the world, preparing himself for an unknown battle. The movie is more Kong-centric this time around, but both plot strands and Godzilla come together in a spectacular finale.

godzilla and kong teaming up ready for battle in godzilla x kong the new empire
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

In his second MonsterVerse outing, director Adam Wingard's confidence at working in this world is clear, both tonally and visually. It extends to the storytelling where Wingard is happy to have lengthy dialogue-free stretches, relying on the impressive VFX for entirely visual storytelling.

It's obvious from the opening sequence that the vibe is different here. There's a sense of fun and mischief that was missing at times from previous movie, starting with Kong having a toothache through to 'I Was Made for Lovin' You' soundtracking Kong's tooling-up sequence before the epic final battle.

You can't get away from the fact that it's all a bit ludicrous, even down to the concept that the world now just has to deal with regular titan attacks. But everybody involved is now in on the joke, rather than attempting to make Godzilla x Kong something that it isn't.

Rebecca Hall still has to deal with large chunks of techno-babble whenever there's a need to establish some logic. However, even the writers seem to realise it's not really worth it at a certain point, highlighted during the final battle where Trapper (Dan Stevens, relishing the nonsense) talks about an issue with the "power battery thing".

dan stevens as trapper, rebecca hall as dr ilene andrews, godzilla x kong the new empire
Warner Bros.

Some Godzilla and Kong fans might still long for more substance to go with the spectacle. In keeping Jia and Kong apart for the majority of the movie, there isn't as strong an emotional core as Godzilla vs Kong had, and there are no deeper themes going on here per Godzilla Minus One.

It's also true that while streamlining the story has removed some of the dull 'evil corporation' moments, it has left the movie's plot feeling a bit thin and uninspired. The relatively brief runtime under two hours combats some of that to keep the pacing brisk.

The originality comes from both centring Kong as the protagonist with the humans as the side characters, and in the set pieces. As a blockbuster, Godzilla x Kong peaks with the finale (which includes zero gravity, city smashing and more), but there are strong ideas elsewhere including a Mordor-esque ape civilisation within Hollow Earth.

kong roaring with fire in the background, godzilla x kong the new empire
Warner Bros.

But while there could still be improvements made, the movie gives you the belief that the MonsterVerse has an identity now. Future movies could continue to tweak elements, but they shouldn't move away from making the titans the centre of the story.

It sounds obvious, yet it's still taken five movies to get to this point. Fortunately, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has got there and the result is the most enjoyable MonsterVerse movie yet.

3 stars
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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is released in cinemas tomorrow (March 29).

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