Moviegoers first encounter Skull Island in 1933: A mystical island lost in time where monsters and dinosaurs still roamed free. That’s where a small group of humans found Kong: A giant ape that has delighted audiences for more than 70 years.
And the love people have for him still grows. Since the 30s, Kong has had several movie sequels, remakes, cartoons, comics and toys. Kong has become a pop culture phenomenon with epic proportions. So it’s no wonder that there would always be more Kong movies. This new incarnation: Kong: Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, brings Kong back to theaters and reminds us all why he is king.
Set in 1973, against the ending of the Vietnam War, we meet government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) who has discovered the mystical Skull Island. And before the Russians can see it on their satellites he’s asked that he and a small group go to the island to investigate, and be the first humans to set foot on it. Recruiting former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), the Sky Devils helicopter squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), they all set forth on this scientific expedition, not expecting to find anything of merit.
After setting off several seismic explosives to map the island they encounter Kong: a behemoth ape who royally kicks all their asses for coming onto his island. Once separated and on the ground, two different teams of survivors try to reach the northern point of the island for their rescue. Along the way each team encounters monsters, skull crawlers, giant spiders, a crazy World War II vet (John C. Reilly) who crashed landed on the island back in the 40s, and of course Kong again and again. All of this combined into what could have been a cheesy monster flick, but ended up being one perfect creature feature.
This movie is epic! Awesome beyond awesome! If you love giant monsters, Kong, or just watching monsters destroy humans, this is the movie for you. It starts massively and just gets bigger and bigger by the end of the movie. Kong is awesome!
The ape has never looked better. The CGI technology has come so far since Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 2005. And even then, Kong looked amazing. But here he looks even better. Now standing as tall as a building and just as imposing, Kong rises above all else in the world of monsters. The filmmakers manage to make him sympathetic without making him vulnerable. Kong has a purpose: to protect his island and the world from these strange underground “skull crawlers.” These are some nasty monsters, and Kong destroys them with ease and brutality. Some of the best scenes are just watching Kong do what he does best: smash things. The special effects are amazing. Each monster looks and feels so real you could almost reach out and touch them though the screen.
The filmmakers gathered a great cast. Everyone has his or her moment, special scene, and a back-story that is easy to understand and organically makes sense for the flick. Goodman is excellent as the mad agent who needs to see if his theory was correct about monsters, Hiddleston is a leading man who you’d follow to hell and back, and Larson is great as the female lead. She’s strong and can handle herself and is a great representation of women during the 1970s. And it was nice to see that she and Kong didn’t have the stereotypical “love” story that is always forced into a Kong movie. They have a human to ape connection at one point, but that’s it. And it’s so quick you kind of forget it happened. You feel it’s more that Kong is intrigued with the little beings, not really in love, which was a nice turn.
Samuel L. Jackson is incredible as the Captain Ahab-type character that he becomes. He starts out as a military man who feels after Nam that the Government gave up. He is a man without a war, and he needs a war to feel useful. Kong gives him the war he needs. Kong killed his men, out of self-defense, not malice. But when your character is going all Ahab it’s hard to see the distinction. So to watch Jackson go though this massive emotional roller coaster is enjoyable. To see him go from war hero to villain is rough, but it’s an easy road to go down when you’re mad enough, and he played it amazingly.
As said, this could have been a cheesy Kong rip off like many of his bad squeals: King Kong Lives, King Kong Escapes, etc. But here is a thought-out reimagining of Kong for a new generation, and will ultimately combine with the 2014 Godzilla timeline for their ultimate show down in King Kong vs. Godzilla in 2020. It will hopefully lead us to a new massive CGI epic monster movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters where all the fan favorites of Toho combine and fight one another or join forces to stop something bigger. Whatever, who cares. As long as there’s monsters I don’t care what they’re doing on screen together. But one thing is for sure, this new Kong is great, and makes you remember why he IS King.