The latest instalment for the movie monster genre serves as not only as one of the goriest reboots to one of the greatest movie monsters in history, but also serves as a building block to a new movie monster universe.
Kong Skull Island follows two scientists, Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) as they attempt to get funding for their expedition to journey to a mysterious island in order to prove that monsters exist. After grabbing a handful of characters including a tracker named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a war photojournalist named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and a squad of marines lead by Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson). However, once they arrive it isn’t long until they encounter Kong. The journey for discovery quickly becomes a safari of survival as they try to get off the terrifying Skull Island.
The film borrows a lot of its style from other titles, dominantly Apocalypse Now with its jungle settings, 70s Rock and Roll and enormous “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” style explosions. But as strange as it sounds it seems to work. The film never takes itself too seriously but instead is fun, the action that takes place doesn’t seem to go too far over the top either with the bulk of it coming from Kong smacking around some of the islands more dangerous inhabitants the same way a child would smack a piñata. Kong also helps add to the enjoyment of the movie as no time is wasted in showcasing what he looks like and what he gets up to on his daily routine, it feels like he is simply another character in the film as opposed to some big bad monster the protagonists are trying to avoid.
Audience members might be asking themselves “Why another King Kong movie”? Or “Why set it during the Vietnam war”? The reason for this is to kick start the monster movie style crossover. The underlying is that “Monsters live among us” and that soon they will be taking the world back. While at face value this could just be related to the various creatures that can be seen in the movie. But the hints at Godzilla can be found throughout the entire movie, from talks about nuclear strikes in the past as the military was “trying to kill something” to the post credit scene which is pretty much just a big give away to the future of this monster universe.
The actors in this movie also add to the enjoyment of the film. There is large variety of character types from humorous to dead serious. Some characters are so serious to the point where they just come across as annoyingly stubborn, case and point being Samuel L Jackson’s character who cannot seem to get enough of war and seems to pick a fight with whatever comes his way, whether it be giant hairy monsters the size of a skyscraper or his fellow castaways, similar to that of an angsty teenager. Not to say that he takes anything away from the movie, as a matter a fact he is the driving force behind the story and without a character like this there would be far less Kong to be seen. The banter between the soldiers is quite humorous as well as the appearance of Hank Marlow (John C Riley) and his wacky portrayal of a World War II pilot helps give some explanation of what goes on, on the island.
Skull Island was fun a movie, it isn’t just another monster movie filled with action and explosions but instead is used to connect the monster movies that Legendary Pictures has the rights to and establish a monster universe which will spark further monster movies and cross overs in the future. If there is something I walked out of the cinema knowing it’s that the director (Jordan Vogt-Roberts) nailed what an enjoyable and fun monster movie should be.
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel Jackson, John Goodman, John. C. Riley