Wednesday 3 April 2024


“Just try not to swallow your tongue” ‘Trapper’ (Dan Stevens) advises podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) as they start the psychedelic descent into the Hollow Earth in Adam Wingardium Leviosa’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Clearly Wingard’s tongue is firmly in cheek in this unabashedly goofy sprawling follow up to his neon-drenched 2021 helmed Godzilla vs. Kong.


The ’vs.’ in 2021’s title may now have been replaced with ‘x’ to signify a truce between the two titular titans, but it’s a fragile pact at best, briefly crumbling in a rumble in Egypt (due to Godzilla misinterpreting Kong’s request for assistance) which reduces the pyramids of Giza to rubble. Thankfully, our favourite giant lizard is brought to his senses by Mothra, swooping in like an ethereal WWE referee and re-focusing our heroic monster on the prime objective.


Even more Kong-centric than 2021’s ‘vs.’– albeit largely explained by the fact the majority of the action this time around is centred in (and below) the Hollow Earth - Godzilla is at times regulated to quick ‘travelogue’ updates. One minute he is seen stomping up the Tiber in Rome, the next he’s topping up his atomic radiation in the Arctic. Meanwhile, back in the Hollow Earth, Kong is being led into a monster fish-infested lake by deceptively cute wide-eyed mini-Kong Suko in true Smeagol / Gollum style before encountering the evil Skar King and his ancient ice-powered titan Shimo. Being so expressive and a gentle giant (at times), there’s always fun to be had with Kong, none more so than when he's suffering from toothache, resulting in kaiju veterinarian ‘Trapper’ (Dan Stevens – a barmy but welcome addition to the cast) abseiling into his jaw to perform dental surgery, or upgrading a frost-bitten arm with a power-glove.


The eventual titan showdown is truly spectacular, offering up the gloriously gonzo sight of Godzilla et al spiralling through an anti-gravity vortex in the Hollow Earth before surfacing on a beach in Rio de Janeiro which is frankly worth the price of IMAX admission alone.


Back in 2021, thanks to a certain global pandemic, UK kaiju aficionados were deprived of a cinematic release of the previous heavyweight titan set-to. Thankfully Wingard’s second outing playing in the kaiju sandpit is available in full expanded IMAX glory (and even post-converted 3D if you really want it). Sure, it is wildly uneven, skittering all over the place (and the world), but it still delivers terrific giant monster mayhem and fun. No, it is not Godzilla Minus One (a superb achievement in it’s own right and a deserved Oscar winner to boot), but then it is not remotely trying to be that film either. There is however plenty of room in the kaiju cinematic universe for both types of interpretations, and judging by the box office figures coming in, audiences across the globe are more than happy to find more room for Godzilla and Kong to grace IMAX screens once again. 

(Polite request: please can we have a more Godzilla-focused outing next time Adam?).   

**** (OUT OF 5*)

Paul Worts

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