“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” 4K UHD Review

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Rated PG-13 – for creature violence and action.
Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Fala Chen, Alex Ferns, Rachel House
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: March 29, 2024
4K UHD / Blu-Ray Release Date: June 11, 2024 (Amazon.com)


Plot Summary

Two ancient titans, Godzilla and Kong, clash in an epic battle as humans unravel their intertwined origins and connection to Skull Island’s mysteries. (from IMDB)

Film Review

One week following the release of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Warner Bros. has delivered Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. It’s bizarre to have two blockbuster movies release back-to-back that have the pretention to use “Empire” in their titles, but the films are vastly different from each other. (Although, both films do contain a creature that spits ice/frost and freezes things. Go figure.) Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is the fifth film in Warner Bros./Legendary’s Monsterverse, following 2021’s bombastic Godzilla vs KongThe New Empire is a direct sequel to that film, taking us back into the Hollow Earth where we find Kong at home. However, when Kong stumbles upon a new threat – a race of giant gorillas like Kong, led by a ruthless and vicious ape named Skar King – his dominion over Hollow Earth is threatened. Meanwhile, on the surface, Godzilla is springing into action against other threats, vanquishing one of them in order to evolve into a more powerful King of the Monsters. With Kong in Hollow Earth, the surface has become expressly Godzilla’s domain, and the giant kaiju lizard will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
Godzilla vs Kong (GvK) was a blast. The fight scenes were worth the price of admission alone, but the action fantasy movie suffered from the same problems all of the Warner/Legendary Godzilla films have suffered from thus far: the human story. While Rebecca Hall was an upgrade when it came to human character casting for GvK, Brian Tyree Henry virtually played a live action cartoon character — a conspiracy theorist who was more goofy and annoying than amusing. While amazing in Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown was once again just there to attract fans of the show, and Alexander Skarsgård was bland and uninteresting as a scientist who went along for the ride. It was super fun to watch GvK in theaters – especially on the biggest screen possible – but my rewatch before The New Empire left me completely bored when the beasts weren’t throwing punches at each other. The trailers for The New Empire made the film look completely ridiculous and a surefire disaster, but I accompanied my Godzilla-loving family members to an IMAX showing with an open mind regardless.

Once again, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is actually pure fun. Director Adam Wingard returns for this installment, and he seems to have his finger set firmly on the pulse of what fans are looking for. That’s right; you don’t go to a movie called Godzilla x Kong for the human story (Hey Paramount, the same goes for your Transformers movies!). Only Hall, Henry and the young deaf character Jia played by also-deaf actress, Kaylee Hottle, reprise their characters. While it concerned me that Brian Tyree Henry’s Bernie was coming back, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he significantly dialed back his neurotic performance for the second go-around. That’s not to say repeat viewings won’t prove him to be a force to be irritated with, but Bernie is definitely more likeable this time… even if he’s still rather goofy. Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens signs on for this installment, playing Trapper, a sort of animal specialist who has ties to Hall’s character’s past. Stevens goes all-out as Trapper, clearly having a blast as he gives an outrageous and memorable performance here. It seems as though Wingard realizes taking the story too seriously is a misstep, so leaning into the more silly proves to be the right approach.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
The tone and feel of The New Empire is kind of a mix of the journey aspects of Kong: Skull Island, and the mega monster fisticuffs of GvK, the ape-centric Planet of the Apes remakes, and Pacific Rim. Knowing all of this going in helps any given viewer know what to expect. But Kong is pretty much the main character here in The New Empire. And of the three movies he’s appeared in thus far (Skull IslandGvK, and this one), he’s most likeable (if not lovable) in this one. Kong’s given even more of a relatable human quality here, and when he encounters more giant apes within Hollow Earth, he proves his quality in relation to his peers. He’s not just a foil for Godzilla this time, he’s more like Caesar for the other apes. Even the “mini-Kong” in the trailers caused me to cringe each time I saw it, but his character (which is thankfully not a “mini Kong”) is a surprising one. Kong’s story presents the opportunities for several scenes where just beasts are trying to communicate and interact. It’s definitely not the kind of horrors you’d experience with wookies communicating while watching the famously atrocious Star Wars Holiday Special, but it will certainly take some audience members by surprise. Meanwhile, Hall’s Ilene leads an unfortunately small expedition into the Hollow Earth that only includes Jia, Bernie, Trapper, and one inevitably doom-fated fifth wheel. I would have loved to see a larger party of “red shirts” – AKA expendable characters – accompany Ilene’s so we could see more of the dangers of Hollow Earth. (In fact, it’s surprising more did not, considering how dangerous the Hollow Earth is known to be.) These scenes felt a lot like those classic monster movies where humans explore underground caves or uncharted lands, only to find monsters and creatures they never knew existed. Wingard, along with the 80’s flavored movie score, again, leans into this vibe, which only lends to the movie’s enjoyment. You can’t expect anything more than a mindless popcorn film, and for that The New Empire delivers.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
The content of The New Empire is probably the most mild of all of the Monsterverse films so far, with the exception of some gross-out creature gore. For example, in an early moment in the movie, Kong rips a beast in half, spilling its green blood and guts all over himself, to which we then see him wash off under a waterfall. He also experiences a toothache, and we briefly see some closeups of the infected, raw tooth. It’s later extracted and replaced, but this isn’t shown close-up or in graphic detail. Another brawl shows Kong besting a snake-like creature, and slicing it up into pieces. He eats straight from a dismembered section of its body, pulling out spaghetti-like entrails and eating them, with some dangling from his lips. Really… it’s super gross. He then breaks off a piece to offer some to another animal. Kong’s hand is sliced in one scene, and we briefly see a closeup of the cut. He’s later burned there, in a way, and we see his hand discolored and raw (but it isn’t really focused on). A creature is seen being frozen and then shattered to pieces, while another character is killed by being kicked into a lava pit. There’s also a brief moment where the camera pans by some ape heads decapitated and mounted on stakes. While a human is quickly devoured by a creature in Hollow Earth, it isn’t graphic, and it’s kind of played for shock and laughs. Profanity is more infrequent than the other films, with about 4 uses of the “S” word (all from Hall, except one from Stevens), and some exclamations of “G-d” are used, as well as a couple other cuss words scattered about. Aside from the gross-out moments, and some menacing monster moments, Wingard seems to have the kids more in mind this time, which is a nice change of pace.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is certainly a lot of fun, but after seeing the brilliance that was last year’s Godzilla: Minus One, this movie feels like a bag of Sour Patch Kids being brought to the table as dessert at an upscale banquet. That’s not to say those fruity jelly candies aren’t delightful and delicious; it’s just a high contrast between the two kinds of movies. The 2023 film even won an Academy Award this year for its visual effects. I’d say the longevity of The New Empire will only be revealed by repeat viewings, but as for its one-time IMAX experience, I can say with certainty that, for what it is, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire was an enjoyable and fun time at the movies.

– John DiBiase (reviewed: 3/31/24)


4K UHD Special Features Review

The 4K UHD release of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire includes the feature film in 4K and bonus features on one disc, along with a 4K MoviesAnywhere digital copy (which also has special features). The 4K quality of the film is a little uneven at times, but overall pretty crisp. I noticed some scenes look more grainy than expected, with some of the special effects looking soft instead of sharp. For example, the scene where Godzilla’s spikes tear through a bridge, his spikes and the water look really soft. But when it jumps to things happening in Hollow Earth, the color and clarity is crystal clear. Overall, though, the picture still looks good.

The Extras on the 4K iTunes Digital Copy and 4K disc include:

Feature Commentary (1:54:39) – Featuring Director Adam Wingard, Visual Effects Supervisor Alessandro Ongaro, Production Designer Tom Hammock, and Editor Josh Schaeffer.

GxK: Day of Reckoning (6:00) celebrates the 10th anniversary of Warner Bros.’ “Monsterverse.” Here, we see clips from all of the movies in the series, as well as clips of interviews from actors during the release of each of the movies. As they say in the featurette… “It’s all been leading up to this.” And from the sound of things, there’s definitely more being planned for the future… (1 “a” word, 1 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “Oh G-d”)

GxK: Journey into the Unknown [Digital Exclusive] (9:39) is all about the production of The New Empire and what filming was like. For the jungle scenes, they actually went on location in Australia – where they had to deal with real-life threats, like local creatures… including leeches — and how that leant to the quality of the film. They also talk about how they tried to film as much in-camera as possible.

Evolution of the Titans
Godzilla Evolved (5:34) talks about how Godzilla took it upon himself to upgrade his own abilities in preparation for the battles ahead (with Skar King and Shimo). Director Adam Wingard also reveals that the imagery of Godzilla curling up and sleeping inside Rome’s Colosseum was inspired by his own cat! He also explains that Godzilla’s upgrades are pink partially because pink and blue are his favorite colors… (1 “a” word)

Kong’s Journey: From Lonely God to King (5:46) – In this featurette, Wingard and his team talk about Kong’s journey through the films to finally becoming King Kong in this movie.

Into the Hollow Earth
Suko: The Rise of Mini-Kong (5:45) – Here, we learn that the little ape, Suko, was inspired by “Son of Kong,” and how, in this film, Kong becomes a kind of surrogate father figure to him. The crew talk about the evolution of his look before the movie, and Visual Effects Supervisor Alessandro Ongaro talks about his idea of Kong using Suko as a weapon to hit some of the other apes during their brawl and that it was a “hard sell” with the studio! (Ha!)

Skar King: The Anti-Kong (5:54) is dedicated to the movie’s “Big Bad,” Skar King, and how he is basically the opposite of Kong. This segment covers designing the character, talking about the details of his look, and even about his coloring.

Visualizing Hollow Earth (5:48) is all about the look and design of Hollow Earth – especially how they wanted to push the envelope of what Hollow Earth looks like. They cover the color schemes, little details inside the mysterious land, and state that this movie is really only “scratching the surface” of what’s down there. (2 “Oh my G-d”)

Monsters of Hollow Earth (5:41) details the different monsters in the film – from the ones we already know and love to brand new ones created just for this film. They also talk a bit about what each one contributed to the movie.

The Battles Royale
A Titanic Fight Among the Pyramids (5:31) – They wanted an iconic moment with Godzilla on a recognizable landmark, so they chose the Rock of Gibraltar. Then they wanted to see him do something he hasn’t been seen doing before, so they had him jump off of the rock into the water. They ended up shooting several moments in 7 or 8 different countries. And for the big Egypt brawl, they really wanted to juxtapose the size of the monsters against the massive pyramids.

The Zero Gravity Battle (5:05) – The underground crystal pyramid was inspired by a real deep, crystal cave that had been discovered in Mexico. Wingard and his team talk about how they wanted to cut loose and have fun and deliver something different with a big zero-gravity fight. They wanted to show the monsters fighting in new ways we haven’t seen before… and they enjoyed giving some nods to Godzilla’s “Showa-era” in the way he fought.

The Titans Trash Rio (5:24) – For the big finale, they shot plates in Iceland, Rio and Hawaii, with soome real locations with real people on the beach for the monsters to interact with. They talk some more about Skar King and his abilities here, as well as Shimo and how incredibly powerful she is.

The Intrepid Director: Adam Wingard
Big Kid (3:45) – The cast and crew describe Adam like a “big 10-year-old kid” who is rarely serious. Adam talks about how, for this movie, he wanted to make a movie he would have wanted to see when he was a kid – and that he grew up as a big Godzilla and Kong fan.

Set Tour (3:46) – Here, Adam goes around on the set in Australia with a camera to briefly interview different members of the crew. It’s very light and candid. (1 bleeped-out “F” word)

The Imagination Department (3:48) – Here, Wingard talks about the monsters in specific sequences in the film and storyboarding the action, as well as the little details of Hollow Earth. He also reveals that a lot of the look and feel of the movie had been inspired by his love for 80s cartoons. (1 “a” word)

The Monarch Island Base: Portal to Another World (5:35) – To create the Monarch base, the production team worked on a getting weathered look for Monarch’s home base. To film it, they actually went to a real island to film on an actual beach. Wingard talks about choosing Dan Stevens as the new character Trapper, and filming him on wires descending into Kong’s mouth. Adam also talks about his brief cameo during this scene, as well as the new, upgraded vehicle the Monarch team uses to navigate Hollow Earth. (1 “Oh my G-d”)

The Evolution of Jia: From Orphan to Warrior (5:59) – Kaylee Hottle is back as the little deaf girl named Jia (And Kaylee is actually deaf in real life. She signs during her interviews). This segment talks about her growth between Godzilla v Kong and this movie. Her fellow cast had nothing but lovely things to say about her — especially Rebecca Hall, who simply gushed about how great Kaylee is to work with and how talented she is!

Bernie’s World: Behind the Triple Locked Door (3:30) is a love letter to the detailed set that was Bernie’s apartment. Cast and crew expressed their great love for the set and how much they enjoyed filming there and hanging out there between takes.

Monster Moments (Digital Exclusive) – Want to ONLY watch the scenes featuring the monsters? This section of the digital copy is broken down into 43 separated out scenes, sorted by character, for Godzilla, Kong, the Skar King, Suko, and Shimo.

– John DiBiase(reviewed: 6/10/24)



Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: None. Women are seen on a beach in bikinis.
. Vulgarity/Language: 4 “S” words, 1 “a” word, 4 “h*ll,” 2 “d*mn,” 8 “Oh my G-d,” 2 “Oh G-d,” 1 “G-d,” 1 “p*ssed off”
. Alcohol/Drugs: None.
. Blood/Gore: Kong rips a beast in half over his head, spilling its green blood and guts over his body. He then washes it all off in a waterfall; We see a beast get impaled on a spikey rock at the bottom of a pit; We see a close-up of Kong’s tender, infected front tooth a couple of times; Kong’s palm is cut and we briefly see the bloody slice on his hand; A snake like creature is sliced up into many pieces with lots of green blood. We then see Kong eating straight from a dismembered section of its body, pulling out spaghetti like entrails and eating them, with some dangling from his lips; A monster is frozen solid and shattered into pieces on the ground; During a fight, a beast spits one of its teeth out and we see it land in the street; Godzilla blasts a monster with his atomic breath, dismembering it into bloody green pieces; The camera pans by some ape heads decapitated and mounted on stakes.
. Violence: Lots of creature violence; Kong is chased by a pack of jaguar-like beasts inside Hollow Earth. He surprises them by leading them to a trap he set, and some fall inside a pit, with one being impaled on a sharp rock below. When he’s cornered, he takes a beast in his hands, raises it over his head, and tears it in two, spilling its green blood all over him; Godzilla is scene fighting a giant crab-like creature; A small ape bites Kong’s hand; Some apes attack Kong, he fights back. One of them slices his hand. When an ape dangles off the side of a cliff, Kong helps him up. He then attacks Kong, leading Kong to then kick the ape off the cliff; We see a group of apes enslaved and oppressed under Skar’s rule. We also see three or so decapitated ape heads on stakes to intimidate the other apes. Skar kicks a kind ape into a lava pit, killing it. Kong and Skar King fight, with Kong receiving a wounded hand and other injuries; Godzilla causes some destruction in a city; Godzilla fights an snake-like dragon-like beast which tries to wrap itself around Godzilla. We then see his atomic breath shoot out of the water and pieces of the creature floating to the surface; Kong comes to the surface to recruit Godzilla’s help, but Godzilla immediately wants to fight Kong. The two duke it out, including Kong trying to drag him by the tail to the Hollow Earth portal, but Godzilla breaks free and retaliates; A gigantic tree swallows and eats a human man (not gross); The apes go to attack Kong and his allies, but a group of flying creatures are brought to the fight to help. Kong, Skar, an ice beast, and Godzilla all fight each other, taking the brawl to the surface in Brazil; A monster is frozen and then smashed to pieces; A lot of building and city destruction occurs in Brazil; And other monster-related action/violence.

Leave a Reply

Just Love Movies