Godzilla x Kong Builds Towards a New Franchise

The New Empire might just be the franchise WB needs

Reader Rating0 Votes
Great action
Very little dallying with human characters
Can we get Minus One now, please?
Characters are painfully trope-ish
Cliches abound

The late ‘90s and early ‘00s carried an odd promise for movie fans–the idea of franchises of similar genres crossing over with the promise of battle and, possibly, teaming up was rampant. Little Freddy of Elm Street would battle Jason on the 13th of any given month were it to fall on a Friday. The eponymous Predator would be set to hunt the alien xenomorphs. The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight would eventually face off against each other (before, inevitably, working together). And Japan would once again meet the USA in a battle between titans, represented by their respective champion kaijus: Godzilla and King Kong!

While it’s taken a little more than a couple of decades for the last of these to be realised, 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong proved itself to be worth the wait, delivering the most competent entry of Hollywood’s “versus” franchises.

While the preceding Godzilla films didn’t quite capture the quality of their simian counterpart’s, Godzilla vs. Kong achieved what even more established adaptation universes like the DCEU couldn’t: coherent, world-building and storytelling.

Unfortunately, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. While it does carry greater synergy with Godzilla vs. Kong than any of the other preceding films did with each other, Godzilla x Kong begins to almost immediately show the strains of such a franchise. After all, there’s only so much you can do with protagonists who aren’t particularly well-versed in any human language.

Despite this limitation, Godzilla x Kong utilises as many cliches and stereotypical tropes as it can to get its simple narrative across. While it doesn’t always work, with newer characters such as Dan Steves’ Trapper falling flat for the most part, and older characters only getting the most superficial of development, these flaws almost help the movie.

Where Hollywood’s instinctive approach to these films–be they Godzilla, Kong, or Transformers–has been to saddle the human characters with more significance than needed, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire doesn’t waste more time than absolutely necessary with them. The movie even dares to employ extended sequences following Kong and his newly found fellow giant great apes, relying on action and body language for exposition and lore-building.

It also helps that Godzilla x Kong does more to connect in a more direct way to Godzilla vs. Kong, picking up on sub-splot introduced in the latter and developing them further. Which you wouldn’t think to be a big deal, but is apparently nigh impossible for even old hats such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While the MonsterVerse is still a somewhat messy collection of films with fluctuating levels of quality, it has done an impressive job of keeping things streamlined and coherent. Perhaps this may be short-lived as the franchise continues and builds across platforms but, for now, it’s a good day to be a kaiju fan.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is out now in theatres. Can we get Godzilla Minus One next?