Movie Name: Kong: Skull Island
Studio: Legendary Pictures
Release Date(s): February 28, 2017 (Premiere)/March 10, 2017 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
It is 1973, and through satellite technology, the world is growing smaller. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) convince a senator to allow their organization Monarch one last chance to prove there are monsters in the world by exploring a secret island named Skull Island before the Soviets find it. Teaming up with a military escort led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) leaving Vietnam, Bill recruits a tracker named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a photographer named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to chronicle the expedition. When the team meets the horror that exists on the island, the giant ape known as Kong becomes the danger…but Kong might only be a gatekeeper for something even worse.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island is an action monster thriller. The movie is the second film in Legendary’s Monsterverse following Godzilla in 2014. The movie was released to mixed reviews but a strong box office response.
I have a real soft spot for King Kong. The (awful) 1976 version was a big deal when it was on TV when I was little. I can remember watching it and loving it for all its goofiness. It isn’t good, it’s too long, but it is fun in the flashback memories. While Peter Jackson’s movie got the look (and the way too long aspect), it just wasn’t fun and was tedious. Kong: Skull Island falls somewhere between the two and promises future fun.
The plot for Kong: Skull Island blends aspects of the original film and some of the sequels. You have a crew led by a man who ulterior motives walking into a situation that they aren’t prepared for which follows the original but you also have an interesting dynamic set-up with Jackson, the U.S.’s failure in Vietnam, and a misguided war. Thankfully, the movie also essentially gets rid of the “Beauty killed the Beast” storyline of all the Kong films (though Kong has an interest in Mason). They change the story enough that it doesn’t feel like a straight up remake, but not enough to make it alien to the King Kong story.
The cast is strong, but the script doesn’t allow much room for them. It is an action movie and pretty traditional at that. There is a lot of running and gunning. No one is really bad, but all the actors almost feel like typical. Even Samuel L. Jackson is his normal self. There isn’t a lot of down time for character development, but it is a popcorn movie, so I didn’t really expect it.
The special effects are pretty good. Peter Jackson did get that right with his Kong, and here, the movie seems to follow in its footsteps. This King Kong is bigger and I did like all the other monsters on the island (and wish we saw more of them). The action was pretty basic which allowed you to follow what was happening (unlike many big battle movies.
Kong: Skull Island feels like the start of something. If I was a kid, I’d be so excited, but as a jaded adult, I’m just a little excited. Movies have become so episodic with the Marvel films that I worry about a new “universe” of movies…but the kid in me is excited to see King Kong, go head-to-head with Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah…now if they can commit to looping in Pacific Rim, we’d be set. Kong: Skull Island is followed by Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019 with Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.