Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Blu-ray Review: Together Again for the First Time

Adam Wingard’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is the fifth film in the Monsterverse franchise, and for those keeping track, it’s the 38th film of the Godzilla franchise and 13th in the King Kong franchise. It sees the Titans once again reunite to face a common foe, as they did in Godzilla vs. Kong, which was also directed by Wingard.

Buy Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Blu-ray

Opening in Hollow Earth, Kong shows his resourcefulness by leading a pack of wart-dogs into a trap. Yet, it’s not clear how he didn’t trigger the trap nor why he feigns surprise at running into a dead end when only the audience can see his facial expression. One aspect that bothered me throughout the movie is why filmmakers have it appear that elements like blood, dirt, and water “hit” the lens. No one thinks a documentary crew is on hand in Hollow Earth so what I presume is an attempt at adding realism to the scene actually has the opposite effect. It’s an industry-wide problem that really needs to stop.

On the surface, Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Ferguson) is back, leading the Kong Research base. Her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), last of the Iwi tribe, is disconnected from her surrounding. She is experiencing visions and detecting a signal from Hollow Earth. She is worried about Kong with whom she has a connection. Ilene asks podcaster Bernie (Brian Tyree Hill) for help in understanding what is going on with Jia. He adds little to the story beyond comic relief and little in the way of comedy. Newcomer to the Monsterverse is Trapper (Dan Stevens), a Monarch veterinarian / adventure seeker, who is introduced replacing Kong’s infected tooth.

The main four human characters follow Kong back to Hollow Earth. They come upon what turns out to be an Iwi tribe that communicates telepathically. The surface dwellers are shown a story in hieroglyphics about an ape, the Skar King, wanting to conquer the surface world. He had fought against Godzilla, who imprisioned Skar’s tribe within Hollow Earth. The story also sets up Jia’s destiny and the future appearance of another Titan.

Kong is attacked by four apes, including a small one. He defeats the three larger apes and makes the small one lead Kong to Skar’s tribe. Kong is disheartened to see other apes treated like slaves. Skar uses a snake’s skeleton as a whip and the tip has a sharp jewel that gives him power over Shimo, a frost dragon Titan. Fighting against Skar and Shimo causes damage to Kong’s hand. Luckily, Monarch has a bit of tech, a giant metallic power glove (seen in the movie’s promotional materials), to help injured Kong. It is put to great use in the movie’s remaining fights.

Jia tells Kong they need help against Skar and his forces, so he goes to fetch Godzilla, which isn’t easy as Godzilla is always in attack mode when he encounters another Titan. He battles Titans earlier in the movie, loading up on their energy, as if aware a big fight is coming. After a tussle among the Egyptian pyramids, which will surely have a negative impact upon the country’s earnings from tourism, a truce is formed. The Titans head into battle which occurs in Hollow Earth and Rio de Janeiro.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire delivers in terms of major monster mayhem. The fights felt unique from what’s come before in the current series. The Titans and the setting were well rendered by the digital artists. The characters and setting looked realistic and the geography of the action was clear, except in the zero-G sequence which was intentionally confusing for the character.

Even though he gets second billing, Kong is again the main focus for another movie in the franchise. Godzilla is again a supporting character, little more than a weapon responding with reptile instinct, but there is a moment before teaming with Kong that he seem capable of more as he is made to understand the task at hand.

Wingard and Music Supervisor Peter Afterman pick some odd rock song choices. Using Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone,” Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose,” and Kiss’s “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” feels like the movie is trying to be like James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Blu-ray has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The video delivers a wide variety of colors across the spectrum, from bright neon blues and pinks of Godzilla’s energy blasts to earthy greens and browns of the Hollow Earth jungles. Blacks are inky and exhibit good shadow delineation. The image offers very fine texture details of both digital objects and real ones that contribute to a sharp focus unless intentionally distorted.

The Dolby Atmos defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7. 1. Dialogue is always clear. The effects thunder through the speakers with objects positioned about and panning across different channels. Composers Tom Holkenborg and Antonio Di Iorio’s score also surrounds the viewer. The bass is powerful, but at times, the effects and score are so strong they vibrate the speakers.

The Special Features are:

  • Audio Commentary The participants are director Adam Wingard, VFX supervisor Alessandro Ongaro, production designer Tom Hammock, and editor Josh Schaeffer.
  • GxK: Day of Reckoning (6 min)An overview of whole Monsterverse franchise with clips from past featurettes before focusing on this movie.
  • Evolution of the Titans: Godzilla Evolved (6 min) and From Lonely God to King (6 min) – A brief focus on the titular characters at this stage of the franchise and how they have evolved.
  • Into the Hollow Earth: Visualizing Hollow Earth (6 min) and Monsters of Hollow Earth (6 min) – Look at the stylized locations and inhabitants of Hollow Earth.
  • The Battles Royale is an umbrella for short looks at A Titanic Fight Among the Pyramids (6 min). The Zero Gravity Battle (5 min), and The Titans Trash Rio.
  • The Intrepid DirectorWingard is the focus of Big Kid (4 min)and then he offers a Set Tour (4 min)
  • The Imagination Department (4 min) – Wingard offers a peek at the concept art in Godzilla x Kong’s “War Room”.
  • The Monarch Island Base: Portal to Another World (6 min) – How the island base came to be.
  • The Evolution of Jia: From Orphan to Warrior (6 min) – A look at Jia’s character development.
  • Bernie’s World: Behind the Triple Locked Door (3 min) – Although not much time is spent there, one can take a look at Bernie’s apartment.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire works as both as entry point into the franchise and as a continuation, and even though the names and places change, it’s still the same basic premise of giant monsters fighting giant monsters and the accompanying destruction that ensues. And if that’s what one is looking for The New Empire delivers. The Blu-ray delivers a great high-definition presentation and has a bunch of extras for fans to dig through.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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