KONG: SKULL ISLAND
With Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary
Written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
I've always been averse to the King Kong premise: man invading the domain of a fantastic unique species and in attempting to exploit it, destroys it. So, I went into this (yet another) retake on the Kong movie with enough trepidation. (Can you believe it has been 12 years since since Peter Jackson's blockbuster remake?)
But while not without its flaws, this one attempts to add a bit of a different take and ended up being an entertaining action packed spectacle (slotted into recent history). Set in the early-'70s at the tail-end of America pulling out of the Vietnam war, a US government backed Pacific expedition is sent out to Skull Island to chart and investigate this isolated location (being surrounded by an intense weather pattern making it impossible for the outside world to access). Lead by the secret government Monarch agency, they recruit a Vietnam combat squadron to punch through the weather with helicopters. On arrival they drop seismic bombs, which brings Kong out to beat the shit out of their helicopters, most of the soldiers dying in the crazy mayhem.
Naturally the truth is revealed about the "study", but the survivors are stranded and soon discover the many dangers this island holds, leading to many thrills, spills and enormous creatures.
The key characters include John Goodman as the man instigating the expedition, Hiddleston is the hired tracking expert and balanced voice of reason, Jackson the unhinged Vietnam vet who just wants to destroy, Larson is the photographer tagging along to document it all, and Reilly the WWII pilot who'd been stranded on the island for decades (also adding some humour, having gone a bit loopy after all these years). But, the main character is of course Kong, brilliantly brought to life with ever-advancing CGI.
While a destructive force to be reckoned with, Kong isn't the vicious enemy he first appears to be as his purpose, intelligence and compassion is unveiled, and while one half realize this, Jackson's character is hell bent on killing Kong (being responsible for the death of his men in the giant ape's spectacular helicopter confrontation).
Even though Brie Larson won an Oscar for Room, here she is the least emotive, most dead-pan, boring A-list actress I've seen all year! It doesn't look like she wanted to be there. I could've played it, and wouldn't even need a wig… Sadly her solitary female character amid the male dominated cast does very little by means of gender representation and doesn't contribute much to the narrative (besides the suggestion that she's there to represent truth through photo journalism, holding them to account - in essence she's a damsel in distress making for some "connection" moments with Kong). The writers really missed an opportunity to pen a female role of substance.
Like Godzilla, there is some environmentally motivated commentary built into the story.
Where crappy '80s movies like King Kong Lives was a cheap cash-in, just like Peter Jackson's remake, not many expenses were spared in both the cast and the visuals for Skull Island, as well as the music, featuring kick-ass '70s (and '60s) rock songs from classic acts like Jefferson Airplain, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath, The Hollies, David Bowie, The Stooges, and that classic war era song by Vera Lynn, "We'll Meet Again" (who incidentally recently turned 100 and released an album as the oldest person to do so!)
The score was composed by Henry Jackman.
PS. With the same producers who resurrected Godzilla (2014), the poster also has the giant creature looming on the horizon as with that film, giving you a perspective of its scale, its iconic silhouette speaking volumes. Another poster option for Kong: Skull island is a homage to Apocalypse Now (as pictured here), linking nicely with the Vietnam war era setting.
And you do know the producers must be plotting a King Kong vs Godzilla flick...
4 / B
- Paul Blom
2 3 4 5 6
- A - B -
Click below for Peter Jackson's King Kong and the recent Godzilla