Kong Skull Island Review
In 1973 team of explorers and soldiers travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong.
When going into Kong: Skull Island, you may be inclined to compare it with 2014’s Godzilla of which this film is the first in an apparent new monster-filled cinematic universe leading to an upcoming versus film. One of the much discussed downsides to director Gareth Edwards’ take on Japan’s most famous lizard was the amount of screen time its titular character received. Fortunately, Kong’s director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) and writers Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly manage to smash away any fear of ape absence with an impressive array of cgi and action which will make you yearn for a Kong/Godzilla fight before the credits have even begun.
Set in 1973, Skull Island follows a star studded team of explorers, headed by John Goodman’s Bill Randa and accompanied by Samuel L. Jackson’s Preston Packard and his team of soldiers as they set out to discover what lies on Skull Island. Their Apocalypse Now inspired arrival is soon cut short by Kong himself in an awe inspiring action sequence that will have you on the edge of your seat. With the team now split up on an island that has no map, it is up to Tom Hiddleston’s smoldering adventurer James Conrad to keep more people from dying, while Brie Larson’s Marson Weaver puts her photography skills to the test while occasionally kicking ass. One of the most refreshing things about the film is Weaver’s absence of any notable romantic storyline. For a franchise which has in the past, not been as fairly equal to its female characters as one could hope, Weaver remains a strong and independent character even when she has her moment with Kong.
In addition to the already full cast, John C. Reilly also joins the team as Hank Marlow, a World War II soldier who, after being left stranded on the island with only his Japanese counterpart for company, has become an unwilling inhabitant of the island, learning to live under the rule of its 328 foot king. Reilly brings some much needed humour to the film alongside Hiddleston’s serious(ly handsome) acting.
Even this amount of stars aren’t able to ape the presence of the films main star. Industrial Light and Magic have managed to pull of a superb job of bringing King Kong back to the big screen with some amazing CGI work. Kong is certainly big enough to go toe to toe with Godzilla in 2020 and this writer cannot wait to see more!
Anyone looking for more than a simple monster movie may feel a tad short changed come credits time, as, while the film manages to introduce the bulging cast list with ease (take note Suicide Squad) and does a few interesting things with its period setting, it’s never enough to really grasp onto.
On the subject of Suicide Squad, Kong: Skull Island also manages to get away with its 70s laden soundtrack by the skin of its teeth. It’s one verse away from becoming truly grating.
The Ugly Truth
Featuring more than enough ape action and an impressive cast, Kong: Skull Island manages to bring back Hollywood’s most famous monkey with a bang and then some. Go in expecting a monster movie and you’ll come out satisfied. Expect any more and you may feel left wanting.
Review by Johnny Ellis