Movie Review: ‘Kong: Skull Island’
The 2014 Godzilla film was a textbook version of what-not-to-do with a monster movie. Director Gareth Edwards weirdly chose to keep the giant lizard hidden for 95% of the movie, which was a head-scratching decision, to say the least. Finally, when we did get our first glimpse, it was in the last few minutes of the film. Thanks? Adding to that, the movie was about as fun as a coronary (except for the scenes featuring Bryan Cranston). It’s a monster movie, where’s the damn monster?
In Kong: Skull Island, those wrongs are righted.
Set in 1973, a team of government officials from a secret organization called Monarch, led by William Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), lead an expedition to an uncharted island where mysterious things have been happening. They bring along a squad of Vietnam War soldiers, including Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Cole (Shea Whigham) and Champan (Toby Kebbell), a tracker named Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and photographer (Brie Larson).
They land on the island and quickly meet Kong, a massive ape who makes it known that he’s not happy with the explosives the newcomers have just detonated. The visitors eventually realize that Kong isn’t the only creature on the island and what’s worse, he’s the only one who can protect them.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts must have watched Apocalypse Now dozens of times before calling action the first time because the film pays homage in look, style and even musically. Heck, Jackson’s Packard goes full on Captain Kurtz. And that’s not a bad thing.
Hiddleston and Larson don’t have a lot to do except look concerned at the impending doom but if you’re going to have a pair of actors looking verklempt, you can’t go wrong with them. And John C. Reilly adds comic relief when he shows up as a long-stranded military pilot.
But let’s get to the real reason why you’d go see a movie with Kong in the title. He’s back, he’s big and he’s here to (hopefully) launch a franchise. The fights between Kong and the lizard-like creatures are every kids dream. They last the perfect amount of screen time and you never get tired of what’s happening on screen. You’re rooting for the big lug to kick some major butt and when he does, it’ll plant a big smile on your face.
Kong: Skull Island is setup to be the first in a shared universe of monster movies and if the last half of the film (and end credits) are any indication, we’ll be seeing a lot more of monster v. monster in the future. And it’ll be glorious.