Movie Review: Kong, Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island, released in cinemas 10 March 2017, it is the second incarnation of King Kong the western world will see in the past ten years and the prequel to a rather lukewarm Godzilla movie of July 2016. Kong: Skull Island is also a sequel in the Legendary Picture’s “MonsterVerse“, a film series that will see a return of Godzilla in 2018 and a head-to-head battle between Godzilla and Kong in 2020.
Staring Loki! Aka: Tom Hiddleston (Ticket seller and eye candy), Brie Larson (More replaceable eye candy) and an All-Star and headlining cast, including: Samuel L. Jackson (every good movie in the last decade), John Goodman (The fat dude in every funny movie in the last decade) and John C. Riley (The curly haired dude from Step Brothers).
Kong: Skull Island is Monster Movie, watch it with that in mind and think about all the senseless, mindless monstrosities you’re about to see. Like the popular Fast and the Furious movies, a Monster Movie on this scale doesn’t need to make a lick of sense, but John Gatins (Story) and Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Director), were able to bring both the ridiculous idea of a 100ft prehistoric ape (Not a gorilla Peter Jackson!) together with a story that is dropping with more lore and back story than we’ll ever see on the big screen.
The blend of effects, action, violence and the carry of such a top tier cast with a well thought out story and universe, is why I feel this is the best monster movie to date and worth a look, with your shorts on while holding the biggest bag of popcorn you can find!
…The Best Monster Movie Ever Made to Date!
Movie Synopsis: Kong, Skull Island
A monster movie needs a few things to make it a success, one of them being a bit of comic relief, a bad guy (Think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), an epic fight and some kind of macro story to make sense of why this damn behemoth can exist in the first place.
Kong: Skull Island checks all the boxes of a good monster movie, note I didn’t mention effects, I think if Japan has proven anything, you don’t need special effects to make a successful monster movie, Godzilla going on it’s 29th feature to date.
The movie itself is a prequel to the 2016 reboot of Godzilla, though it will probably act as a separate entity by the studios until we see the two monsters clash in 2020.
The connections only come when referencing the “Insert evil clandestine government funded company name“: Monark, though this time, set in 1975 just as the United States are withdrawing from Vietnam and Bill Randa (John Goodman) and sidekick Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), aka: Monark, are essentially out of funding and need one last piece of evidence to prove the existence of Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Objects (MUTOs).
the dude: “Who’s seen some shit”
They find this island, covered in a perpetual storm as seen from space (remember, satellites had only just been invented kids), where there maybe the final indication and evidence of these monsters, the island: Skull Island, is the last place these monsters could be found. (Sounds similar to Peter Jackson’s King Kong premise, but Ill let it slide, how else are you going to get people to go there)
They’re joined by Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former SAS tracker and photo journalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), for reasons that I think seem obvious in their job descriptions. The group is lead by non-other than the Afro Samurai himself, Samuel L. Jackson, who plays as himself! … ok, who plays: Preston Packard, a Vietnam war veteran and the dude: “Who’s seen some shit”: he’s our Gaston.
They make it through the storm and to the island at which point, we’re introduced to Kong, and all hell breaks loose.
That’s where I’m stopping, its too easy to spoil this movie.
The movie’s pace is tight, and does a lot of setting up in the first act of the movie, though, without loosing much rhythm. I’m not talking about the epic sound track though, it’s the build that is itself an adventure. Each character so full and fleshed out, using basic stereotypes and archetypes, but at the same time they each have their own motivations and ideals, each trying to out do the other for why they’re going to this island and what they believe in.
The environment and time period adds further paranoia and friction to the characters, their political beliefs, their morals and ethics, everything has weight, and you get the sense that each character may just snap if pushed. As The Joker eludes; it just takes one bad day, and that day happens to be on Skull Island. (The Joker is not in this movie, I just like him)
Characters who’s friction or heat fizzle out, are killed off! Yip, just like that, as abrupt as this full stop.
The fight scenes in this movie are colossal in scale and give you the sense that there is a bigger and grander game being played by the monsters in this universe and the human characters are just trying to get out the way.
This would all be far too horrifying if it wasn’t for the masterful, yet not silly, comic relief delivered by Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), former World War 2 fighter pilot and now; the caste away. Reilly does a perfect job of ever so subtly breaking the forth wall, poking fun of the decisions of Packard or their entire operation, while at the same time being a fully fleshed out and developed character by the time of the third act.
Ending in a timely manner, and not in a way that makes you feel unsatisfied, we get a lot of Kong and Monsters, but in a way that makes you feel like you want more, you want to go back to this island, to this king and this world.
Monster Movies will become the new Superhero Movies!
This is not a perfect movie folks, but it is the best monster movie we’ve been given in decades and I dare say, it’s the creative push the entertainment industry needs, a push into a new direction of thinking about the Monster Movie genre.
No longer are we going to accept our monsters as mindless blood thirsty beasts, no! They have feelings, stories, histories and motivations!
But, despite this accolade, Kong: Skull Island wasn’t perfect. I felt Tom Hiddleston‘s character was massively under used and explored, if anything he was the least developed of all the characters and had the most screen time, making me believe he was there to fill cinema seats. Having a great introduction in the first act of the movie, he ended up being more of a movie stud than a vital character.
There are some points in this film where it begins to feel silly, not all the way to silly, but silly enough to make me fear that it’d push itself out of the seriousness of it’s universe (Suicide Squad). Fortunately, it didn’t, but I caution film makers though, to not sacrifice universe integrity for a comic relief or break.
Where is the Monster Movie Genre Going?
Ladies and gentlemen, Kong: Skull Island was a great movie, it had everything I wanted in a monster film, from a good story, to good effects, epic fights, detailed and deep characters, and still being able to tell a detailed narrative about this new universe we, the viewers, are about to explore with the teams of Monark and I hope, Kong!
It’s big, it’s loud, it’s monstrous and I loved every second of it!
I’d love to know what you thought of it when you see it though, do you agree with my ideas of the genre, did this movie inspire an erection of metaphorical proportions? Let me know in the comments!
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