Critics Say Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire Has Plenty Of ‘Rock Em, Sock Em’ Fun, But One Issue Keeps Coming Up

 Dan Stevens in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.
Dan Stevens in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

Three years after Legendary’s MonsterVerse brought us Godzilla vs. Kong, the monsters are teaming up again for a kaiju sequel in Adam Wingard’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. New enemies threaten Hollow Earth in this film, which hits theaters March 29, per the 2024 movie release calendar, and critics are weighing in after catching early screenings. Almost everyone is talking about how fun this new monster movie is, but some are finding Godzilla x Kong lacking in the emotional department.

First reactions to the new kaiju offering had people excited for the “slobberknocker,” as they noted how colorful the movie is, with its ‘80s buddy cop vibes, thanks to Dan Stevens and Brian Tyree Henry. Critics are now able to expound on those views, and in CinemaBlend’s review of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, our own Mike Reyes says spring for the IMAX experience if possible, because this movie is so much fun, it’s hard not to want more. He rates it 4 out of 5 stars, writing:

Things get weirder and go harder in this flick. Continuing the gradual shift towards the tone of the more playful films of the later Showa era in the Godzilla franchise, we get more monster blood and guts than ever before here. Mixed with killer needle drops that even James Gunn would be proud of and well-executed set pieces that help keep things moving, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a finely tuned machine of destruction, fan service, and lore expansion. All this, plus the always charming Dan Stevens joining up as a Titan veterinarian, adds up to a raucous ride that never loses steam.

Aaron Neuwirth of We Live Entertainment gives it a User Rating of 8 out of 10, agreeing with Mike Reyes that it’s a great time to be a kaiju fan. While last year’s Godzilla Minus One may appeal more to the scholarly crowd, Godzilla x Kong offers “a rock 'em sock 'em blast.” The critic says:

So much of the joy in GxK comes down to seeing the inevitable team-up between these two alphas. Does creating that bond come easily? Not in the least, but the major smackdowns that weighted heavily toward the second half have plenty to offer any fan of massive creatures wailing on each other. This is where Wingard’s clear love of this stuff shines brightest, as the variety of the fights, what they mean to the story that has unfolded, and what monsters we end up seeing (this film has enough to challenge the two Kings), do plenty for those armed with excitement for vibrant colossal action.

Jane Crowther of GamesRadar rates it 3 stars out of 5, agreeing that it’s a “fun, neon rumble,” but saying ii's lacking an emotional journey. However, if you’re just buying the ticket to see the big monster fights, you’ll get your money’s worth, Crowther says:

The latest instalment in the TV/film-straddling MonsterVerse, GxK is disposable fun, saturated in vivid colour, fond of Guardians-style needle drops, and boasting impressive global fights that smash international landmarks. Its big bad, the Skar King, is a decently nasty piece of work (key likes: animal cruelty, slavery, blood as a fashion accessory) in a world of XXL personalities.

The weakness of the human story seems to be the primary criticism among critics, which isn’t all that uncommon for monster movies. Owen Gleiberman of Variety posits that it’s bad luck that Godzilla x Kong is coming out so soon after Godzilla Minus One, which proved these creatures could carry an “emotional grandeur.”

Godzilla x Kong [feels] like one of those Jurassic Park sequels where everyone is huffing and puffing about the fate of the world and ‘relevant’ issues of genetic engineering — but we’re just there for the ride, which now feels like it has a study sheet attached. I guess this is the part of the review where I’m supposed to say that Brian Tyree Henry, as the wide-eyed tech-whistleblower-turned-conspiracy-blogger Bernie Hayes, and Dan Stevens, as the snarky British veterinarian Trapper, are a riot, but it felt to me like the two actors were mostly filling space. Rebecca Hall, in a no-nonsense haircut, uses her avid severity well, and Kaylee Hottle, as Jia, has a luminous presence, but I’m sorry, every time the film summons a human dimension it feels like boilerplate.

D. Hood of IGN gives the movie an “Okay” 6 out of 10, calling it a “visually stunning, sensory extravaganza” that's so electrifying the critic isn’t even all that mad that it doesn't quite add up and the audience is made to slog through the humans’ drama. Hood continues:

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a textbook visual thrill ride punctuated by brief moments of forced emotion and little else. Director Adam Wingard has a lot of fun with textures, colors, and camera work, and he’s adept at giving fans the over-the-top monster action that they demand via an imposing new villain. Unfortunately, there’s no time to spend on making things make sense or even matter all that much, and what few emotional punches are thrown lack the necessary wind up to connect, save for some very well done moments between Kong and his Hollow Earth kin.

The monsters are clearly the stars of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, so it sounds like anyone hitting the theater for pure kaiju action is going to be happy. Just keep your expectations tempered regarding any emotional stakes. You can catch this movie in theaters starting Friday, March 29.