Summer Blockbusters in March: Our Review of ‘Kong: Skull Island’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 10, 2017
Summer Blockbusters in March: Our Review of ‘Kong: Skull Island’

Hoping to re-ignite a new slew of classic monster films, on the heels of their immensely successful Godzilla reboot from 2014, Warner Bros has decided to throw its hat into the King Kong remake arena with Kong: Skull Island. For this effort to possible start a cinematic universe of their own (rumours are already flying that the 2 beasts will face off against each other), Warner has followed Marvel entertainment’s philosophy down to the letter. From the insanely talented cast that fills almost every inch of the film down to the end of credit sequence that is not to be missed, Warner has not strayed far from formula. But the question remains, is this a blessing or a curse?

Set in the 1970’s under the auspice of the cold war between the US and Russia, Kong starts with Bill Randa (John Goodman) head of the mysterious government faction known as Monarch and his new protege Houston (Corey Hawkins) as they put in a last ditch effort to gain funding to explore Skull Island. Randa has long believed that monsters still roam the planet and that Skull Island may the epicentre of all of this- and since ‘we don’t want the Russians to discover the island first’ they are given permission to piggyback onto another mission of geologists heading out there- with a military escort of course. Randa gathers a motley crew of people to come along for the ride including James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and San (Tian Jing). Soon they are teamed up with a military outfit led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Immediately after arriving to Skull Island via helicopter the group are set upon by the monstrous Kong. But the real perils lay in the other inhabitants of this island that time forgot.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts knows exactly what type of film he has on his hands and never ceases to revel in the fun. The film takes off from Kong’s spectacular destruction of the incoming choppers and doesn’t slow down for a minute til the very end. Little exposition or character development is invested once on the island, except for John C. Reilly’s Hank- a WW II pilot stranded on the island for decades after a sequence we see in a brief prologue before the film’s opening. Reilly is here for comic relief and does a decent job; even if his character may resemble his charter from Guardians of the Galaxy a little too much. Despite the lack of overall character development, the entire cast manages to deliver sturdy and reliable archetypes that drive the story along. John Ortiz delivers some scene stealing sequences and Samuel L. Jackson does his best version of the obsessed Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.

But Kong: Skull Island owes more to James Cameron’s Aliens than any previous incarnation of Kong or Apocalypse. Thomas Mann even manages a fair homage to Bill Paxton’s Hicks; minus the “game over man” of course. The best decision of the team behind the realization of the Kong monster might have been to go less realistic than Peter Jackson’s version and this results in a taller, slightly lankier but far more effective and destructive version of Kong. Focusing less on being a ape and more on delivering the “monster” aspect of Kong also helps sell the even more fantastical elements of the film and the other fantastical inhabitants of Skull Island.

A fun filled ride from beginning to end, Kong: Skull Island may be a tad formulaic but it embraces this and proceeds with gusto. This Kong packs in the fun that many felt missing from Peter Jackson’s version and once the film lands on the island it produces a thrill ride that should rival any action blockbuster due this year. And make sure you don’t leave the theatre too early afterwards as the end of credit sequence is a perfect caper and rivals anything Marvel has ever done at the end of their films. With the promise of much more to come audiences should be left excited for the next instalment, and you can count me in that crowd as well.

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