If there is one thing I love as much as Star Wars and superheroes – it’s giant monsters! Kong: Skull Island scratched every giant monster itch I have…and even a few I didn’t know were there!
King Kong has long played second fiddle to that other King of the Monsters despite having an equally as worthy film franchise – from the revolutionary-at-the-time original to the underrated 1976 remake to the ambitious but painfully long winded Peter Jackson endeavor. Much like other iconic fictional characters there is likely not many people who don’t know the name “Kong” – even if they have never seen any of the previous films. So it is thrilling to see the great big ape thrust back into the limelight in such style!
Speaking of style, Kong had it in abundance – this is the first major project director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has ever done (to my understanding) and I seriously cannot wait to see more of what he has to offer. The visuals were incredible, creating many instantly iconic moments. Skull Island becomes a character of its own with the visual style used – both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Kong himself has been given a welcome overhaul – no longer a literal giant silverback gorilla, instead he takes more queues from the fabled gigantopithecus; slightly more human in his silhouette. It makes for a creature that is equal parts believable and supernatural, similar to the reworking of Godzilla in 2014. The visual effects are mind blowing across the board, but the amount of personality and emotion they bring to Kong really stand out.
This is also the most massive Kong has ever been, which is so cool to see, but it is said he is still growing…almost like he’ll need to stand toe to toe with an even bigger adversary at some point…
But enough about that big galoot!
The story is very by the numbers, but the way it’s put together really works. Setting the film during the mid 70’s made it even more interesting – both modern enough to be relatable but primitive enough to not be aided by technology. I was relieved that the action never leaves the titular island – it is always the most interesting part of the previous films, so it was wise to not try to bring a huge ape to New York…seriously, that was never gonna work…!
The cast is very good, if not revolutionary. Tom Hiddleston made for a badass hero that didn’t fall into too many of the “badass hero is badass” tropes. Brie Larson made for a cool girl-in-the-boys-club without falling into the “girl in the boys club” tropes. John C. Reilly was John C. Reilly…which was great! He also added a lot to the story building of the island and Kong which made for excellent exposition right at the part of the story when questions needed answering. I love Samuel L. Jackson…I just do…and his human villain was the best kind – Ahab-esque. Driven to the point of madness, all while thinking he’s on the righteous path.
I was absolutely blown away by Kong: Skull Island and I am beyond thrilled that the giant monster genre is coming back! The film had everything you need – equal parts thrilling, scary, funny, and epic…all while honoring the characters past with some surprisingly heartfelt moments. Oh! And if you’re a giant monster junkie like me, be sure to stay to the end of the credits – the geek in me was practically shrieking with excitement! We’ve seen Freddy fight Jason and Batman fight Superman…but the biggest bout is yet to come!!