“Kong: Skull Island” stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, and John C. Reilly. Released on March 10, 2017, the film is about an expedition crew who must fight for survival on an island populated by a group of monstrous beings and a gigantic ape.
The film is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who is known for directing The Kings of Summer. It is a reboot of the King Kong franchise and the second film in the cinematic “MonsterVerse” that started with 2014’s Godzilla. This next film in my ‘highly anticipated 2017 films’ list features a familiar ape and a group of very popular actors. While I haven’t seen a lot of King Kong movies throughout my life (with the exception of Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake), I was pretty excited to see a brand new take of Kong, which takes place in the same universe as Godzilla. So far, the marketing team did a very nice job of showcasing the film as a fun and adventurous monster film compared to the dark and ominous tone that Godzilla delivered three years ago, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to see it. Last weekend’s Logan already impressed a lot of critics and moviegoers, including myself, so let’s see if the Mighty Kong has what it takes to do the same.
The events in the film took place in the 1970s, way before the events of 2014’s Godzilla. An organization known as Monarch hires their senior official (played by Goodman) to lead an expedition crew to study the mysterious island. Yep, instead of a film crew, we got a group of people who blow up parts of the island for research. The concept is pretty much what we expect from the other King Kong movies (minus the “Kong in the city” part), but it has a certain way to keep itself fresh and exciting. The cast did a solid job bringing some life into their characters, even though some of them are quite forgettable. Hiddleston was pretty enjoyable as James Conrad, Jackson and Goodman were both good together as Preston and Randa, respectively, and John C. Reilly delivered some decent laughs as Hank Marlow. Brie Larson also did a great job as a photographer who’s brave and independent and not just some damsel in distress who needs saving. There were a few other things that I was looking forward to and, unsurprisingly, they delivered what they promised. For example, the visuals. Let’s just say that they’re just as eye-catching as I imagined it from the trailers. They truly capture the sense of adventure and danger that is on this island, and major props to the creature designs, especially Kong. My God, there are no words that I can use to describe the size of that ape. He’s just that big. Almost as big as Godzilla. The visuals also help in creating the film’s entertaining action sequences, expecially the fights between Kong and the reptilian creatures known as the Skull Crawlers, and its unique 1970s tone. While the film does have its sense of fun, the story and the characters weren’t able to help it surpass its usual expectations. I liked how the story turned out, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t quite make that much of an impact in terms of character depth. There were also times where the film’s pacing didn’t give me enough time to fully embrace its visual style.
Overall, if you’re looking for an entertaining monster movie that’s filled with solid performances, eye-catching visuals, and a sense of adventure and fun, “Kong: Skull Island” may be your cup of tea. If you’re looking for a film that has an Oscar-worthy story and memorable characters, you might want to look elsewhere. While there were a couple things that could’ve been done better, such as the characters and the film’s pacing, it delivered exactly what it promised, no more, no less. Oh, and one last thing, be sure to stay through the end credits for a sneak peek of what’s to come in the “MonsterVerse”.