Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Writers: Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Now that Marvel has established their very own cinematic universe, it seems like other world renowned pop culture mediums such as DC and soon, Hasbro are in the process of making films based on their very own Intellectual Properties while forming a correlation between various characters and concepts.
Now it’s the Giant monsters’ turn!
2014’s Godzilla was used as the springboard for developing a potential monster universe because now, there’s Kong-King Kong the inevitable tie in.
King Kong is the least of my favorite giant monsters however, my curiosity had gotten the best of me, the minute I saw the ads and promos. Now after watching Skull Island, all I can say is that my respect for the humongous Ape, has been bumped up a few notches. Cast aside the overrated and forgettable Peter Jackson project that came out over 10 Years ago, this is an amusing “retcon” from PJ’s reboot and prior to that, the 1976 Jessica Lange classic.
Synopsis: Set in 1973, a group of scientists and Vietnam soldiers go on an expedition to an uncharted-mysterious island located within the pacific to prove the existence of monsters and whether they are a threat to humanity. Well, suffice to say, they got their answer-twofold, due to an unwelcome reception from the many creatures and of course, the mystical Island’s protector-Kong!
After the prologue, I had to suffer through a 20-minute slow burn which is supposedly used for building the film’s plot device and narrative however, I couldn’t help but experience moments of boredom courtesy of the dialogue along with frequent scenes of soldiers taking snapshots during obligatory Vietnam period soundtracks like “White Rabbit”. I had a strange feeling that a song from Creedence Clearwater Revival would soon follow thus, Lo and behold, it did!! However, what’s sadly missing, are the songs from Edwin Starr and especially Marvin Gaye which reflected upon said era. I’m glad they added Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” as part of the track’s listing.
But the minute we are introduced to the Island and of course, the big angry ape, the movie gradually picks up the pace and all I can say is this aint the Kong from the seventies, oh noes! Because he is capable of swatting down a fleet of Huey choppers and that’s before a tasty tentacle breakfast!
Tom Hiddleston is cast as the leading character aside from Kong, who is a former SAS soldier hired to assist the team thanks to his tracking skills but soon afterwards, the main ass kicking hero throughout the film. Hiddleston proved that he can be a major action lead and if I had my way, he would be the next James Bond, the next Eric Draven and had Marvel produced a film or series based on their Union Jack character, fucking-A!
Rounding out the cast is of course, the hardest working Man in showbiz- Samuel L. Jackson who is in yet, another big production project but this time, he’s cast as the hard nosed, sadistic, superior officer who is hellbent on making sure that the monkey meets his maker, especially after having his men wiped out during an earlier scene. In some parts of Kong, it seems as if Samuel was channeling Samuel as in some running gag with “Samuelisms” like “bitch, please” and yes, he even says “Motherfucker”!
SLJ comes off a bit like some hammy “Captain Ahab” who has this grudge with “Monkey Kong” especially after swatting down his men like mosquitos while John C. Riley gives a commendable performance as the not so grizzly WW2 soldier who yearns to return home. Plus, he makes for solid comedy relief!
And despite Brie Larson’s character who plays the sympathetic Photographer, lacking polish compared to Hiddleston, Reily and especially Jackson, I am finally convinced that looks wise, she just might fit the role as Captain Marvel. it’s fascinating to see him along with Hiddleston, Riley and Larson who all happen to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as if they are part of a troupe.
I noticed how some of the action scenes were reminiscent of videogames such as the FPS inspired sequence where we see “Hiddie” donning a gas mask while slicing the inhabitants with a soldier’s katana. There’s also the 360 degrees spinning helicopters that can be drawn back to either Call of Duty Modern Warfare or the intro from Resident Evil 3 Nemesis and there’s a copious number of Kaiju moments too. The paying of homage doesn’t end there. Notice how the cinematography and movie poster have been heavily influenced by Coppola’s magnificent Apocalypse Now?
“Kong’s a pretty good king. Keeps to himself, mostly. This is his home, we’re just guests. But you don’t go into someone’s house and start dropping bombs, unless you’re picking a fight.”
The violence in Kong is brutal especially when it comes to the various scenes of the Island creatures impaling, stomping, ripping, chewing and spitting out the American trespassers who despite having advanced technology, are clearly outmatched. E.g. Jim Cameron’s Aliens, was a hidden metaphor of the Vietnam war itself and the same could also be applied to his Sci Fi franchise-Avatar.
Despite have a boring start, Kong Skull Island is an enjoyable reboot once the pace gets going that is. if you sit through the post credits, you’ll see the obvious surprise which gives a hint of things to come!
All hail to the king, baby!
Three out of Five!
You can find our movie saving friend’s review here!