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The Good and the Bad

Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a true mixed bag of a film, continuing the MonsterVerse franchise in ways that don’t feel particularly game-changing or essential. As teased in the key art for the film, Kong gets a Power Glove. That’s pretty cool. And some other monsters show up to fight Godzilla and Kong. Also neat.

As underwhelming as the film directed by Adam Wingard might be, however, there were several elements deserving of praise, as there was real potential for this movie to be a strange action-packed odyssey. That potential was undercut, sadly, by a weak script and too many too conventional choices. However, to celebrate the glimmers we did get of what could have been, as well as acknowledge everything that went wrong, let’s break down what worked well and what didn’t — the good and the bad.

BAD: Rebecca Hall, Exposition Queen

Rebecca Hall returns to the MonsterVerse as Dr. Ilene Andrews, and she isn’t the only human character whose primary purpose in the film is to relay information — fellow MonsterVerse alum Bryan Tyree Henry’s Bernie also contributes to the exposition, in addition to adding some comic relief. However, at a certain point, what Ilene is asked to do is less like info-dumping and more like flat-out narrating the damn movie as it happens around her. If Hall returns again, she should demand to be paid by the word.

GOOD: You Don’t Need to Have Seen the Apple TV+ Show

Maybe you weren’t even aware that there was an Apple TV+ series called Monarch: Legacy of Monsters? (Apple TV+ does have an awareness issue.) If that’s the case for you, never fear — while the Monarch organization is featured heavily in the film, there’s no reference to anything specific from the show that would impair your understanding of the plot.

BAD: Kong and Godzilla Don’t Even Hang Out That Much

At the beginning of The New Empire, Kong and Godzilla are enjoying a truce as they chill out in their respective territories: Kong in the strange wilderness known as the Hollow Earth, Godzilla on the surface of the Earth, where he’s free to romp around having a good time.

Most of the film is spent following them individually as they encounter new threats on their own, while also tracking multiple human-focused storylines — none of which get nearly enough development, because of this script’s split focus and lack of cohesion. Plus, the intercutting largely feels sloppy, with a shift from Kong to Godzilla rarely feeling motivated by anything other than someone in the editing room saying “It’s been too long since there was a Godzilla scene, we should put one here.”

GOOD: Putting Rachel House in Charge

The wonderfully deadpan New Zealand actress is increasingly getting more recognition outside of Taika Waititi movies, and even in the thankless role as a Monarch leader, she adds some fresh spark.

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