“Kong: Skull Island” (2017)
Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Featuring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, and John C. Reilly
Hank Marlow: “That’s Kong, he’s king around here. Kong’s a pretty good king. Keeps to himself mostly, but you don’t go into someone’s house and start dropping bombs unless you’re picking a fight.”
Here we have the second in a proposed meeting of the monsters movie series that will continue with “Godzilla 2” (2018) and then the hopeful “Godzilla vs Kong” at some later date. This is the reintroduction of King Kong and the Skull Island some may remember from the Peter Jackson directed “King Kong” (2005) which was a dream project from him that he was rewarded with after the “Lord of the Rings” (1999 – 2002) albeit from a different studio. What I liked about this film “Kong: Skull Island” (2017), is that it doesn’t necessarily ignore Jacksons film even though this Kong is much larger.
The movie is set in 1973, where a secretive organization known as Monarch finds an island that is shrouded in mystery and identified as the origin for new species. The resulting expedition to the island reveals that a giant monstrous ape named Kong is at the center of a battle for dominion over the island, against the apex predators, nicknamed “Skullcrawlers”, responsible for wiping out his kind. As the expedition crew makes plans to fight for survival against Kong and the other monsters on the island, some of them begin to see that Kong is worth saving.
Its hard to talk about this film without first acknowledging its stellar cast that starts with the always charismatic Tom Hiddleston, better know to international movie audiences as Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who is trying to branch out here in another A typical blockbuster movie. Brie Larson who is making her first appearance post her Best Actress Oscar win as a photographer trying to search for the truth is not bad either – she seems to be warming up for her next big screen role in the MCU. The always excellent John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson, who once again steal any films they appear in, round out the rest of the cast and here they all take turns in the spotlight.
This is a big dumb and most of all fun movie, that kicks off the Summer Movie Season early this year with a bang. The film has a lot of CGI in it as you would expect but part of it feels rushed with no real story for all the promises of the marketing and early trailers.
The one major let down for me was that there was no real plot that all the characters (and there are way too many( could hang on to. The one thing positive thing that both “King Kong” (2005) and “Godzilla” (2014) had going for them was at least a plot that had goals, which involved all the major characters. At some point I was wondering why did they even come to the island if there was no end goal – they didn’t have the equipment to get anything off the island so what was the point? There are clues in the names of the characters but i felt this was an afterthought as once again there was no payoff. Did they hire well known actors just to kill them off – which mostly happens off screen thanks to the PG rating.
One of my favorite things about this film is that it is set in 1973, just as the Nixon government was coming to an end in one of the most deplorable ways possible, and frightening ones as well. That this time in US and global politics reflects what we are now going through and that safeguards that existed in the 1970s seem to have all but disappeared in this new political climate shows just how much things have changed. In those heady days when it was the fifth estates job to hold a mirror up to those in power and hold them accountable we now see the hobbling of these same people by the government itself – something that will spread if we allow it.
It is actually quite canny of Larsen to play a reporter in this film and for her to be identified as someone who is looking for the truth amongst men and men who are focused on either destruction or taking advantage of something they don’t understand at all – as well as exploiting for evil the natural resources they don’t have any right interfering with. These kinds of issues will become all too real and relevant as we move through the next few years and see what kind of planet we are going to be left with after a Leftish government that will influence world affairs.
I recommend this for all people that love monster movies as well as action films that seem to be over the top and aim for a grand spectacle with little plot but a lot of scene stealing by CGI creatures that we will see again the next few years.