Following up on the surprisingly excellent Godzilla Vs. Kong is Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire. This new film captures some of the Saturday Morning Cartoon energy of that film and then some. If you’re looking for something quite simply, fun, this is the movie for you.

Adam Wingard returns to direct a script from Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett, and Jeremy Slater that leans a bit too heavy into the explanation. It’s easy to fall into the idea that these human interactions and characters don’t matter as much when you just want to see Godzilla and Kong in tag team action against other monsters, and that is a bit of the case. But you also need more than just that to capture an audience’s attention. Here, the story follows Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), and Trapper (Dan Stevens) who are trying to figure out why Godzilla is going nuts taking out nuclear power and other Titans.

While they’re doing that, Kong is trying to find more of his own species in the Hollow Earth. What he finds is a group of his own, but led by a tyrannical ancient being known as the Skar King. The focus this time around is much more on Kong than Godzilla. Kong gets center stage and most of the human proceedings are about him as well. There are some funny bits like Kong having a toothache and Trapper having to give him a new tooth. Overall, the story is much more focused than with Godzilla Vs. Kong, which tried to balance the two characters more.

That doesn’t mean that Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is without problems though. Particularly when it comes to those humans. Somehow, they’ve made Brian Tyree Henry’s character Bernie, more annoying, and less charismatic than in the previous film. Here, he’s there for comic relief and to provide a sort of layman’s perspective, but a lot of the time, he comes off as grating. Dan Stevens’ Trapper is also woefully underutilized, but when he’s on screen, he commands attention. The real issue here is that any time there’s something happening on screen, they feel the need to explain it in great detail.

Audiences aren’t dumb. They don’t need explanations for every single thing. Sure, the scientific details of how gravity works, or how an ancient tribe of people can control gravity for their civilization, sure. But when you can just show that a shockwave will hold off the invading forces, you don’t need to have someone explain that.

There’s a smaller problem with Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire about the pacing of the film, and there’s a section in the middle that feels like it runs just a bit too long. It bogs down the proceedings and detracts from the otherwise breakneck pace of tracking Kong, Godzilla, and the other monsters around the globe.

Let’s be real, though. Why are we sitting down for this movie? To see monsters fight. That might sound like the Twitter dudebro answer for this review, but its true. The movie knows what you want, you want to see Kong and Godzilla team up to fight monsters they wouldn’t normally be able to handle. The battle at the end between Skar King/Shimo and Kong/Godzilla is about as awesome as I can think of. Shimo is basically the ice version of Godzilla, spewing icy breath and using their tail to lethal effect. To get there, we see Kong fight other similar, yet, less badass members of his species and Godzilla SHREDS other Titans. The idea behind Godzilla’s color changing from blue to pink is also ingenous. For fans of Dragon Ball, it’s basically the equivalent of Godzilla going Super Saiyan.

The one scene where Kong and Godzilla are reintroduced is equally hilarious as it is heart-pounding.

Godzilla pro wrestling suplexes Kong at the Pyramids of Giza.

I think that’s all you need to know to go see this movie in theaters, on the biggest screen possible, surrounded by your friends and family, with a giant bucket of popcorn.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire releases in theaters on March 29th, 2024.

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