Kong Skull Island - This Massive Monkey Movie Rocks Its Batshit Crazy World
Dir: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Sam Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins
Hello and welcome to the blockbuster, 2017 style. And, to be honest, it’s a good deal of fun. Much like Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World before him, Jordan Vogt-Roberts has leapt from the micro budget of indie to the mega budget of tentpole – and he’s done it seemlessly, delivering a monster movie that is perfectly designed to keep the popcorn sales a-rising. (Much like Credence’s Bad Moon on the outstanding soundtrack.)
This is Kong not really reimagined or reinvented, as much as stripped down to use as a metaphor for Vietnam. No, seriously. It’s 1973, the imagery is Apocalypse Now and Sam Jackson is superb as a Colonel who a) doesn’t want to admit America lost the war, and b) has yet to face his own heart of darkness. Cue up one mighty gorilla standing in for Brando’s Kurtz. Yes, it’s that silly and that overt, but the real strength of Vogt-Roberts’ film is it knows it is. And it has fun with it.
But don’t get us wrong – this is not to belittle the impact of what is going on here. Kong’s first appearance (f you don’t count the brilliant WWII pre-credits moment) is a tour de force of the contemporary action sequence. You’ve seen some of it in the numerous trailers – Kong V. Choppers – but to use an old phrase from the days of the 1933 original – “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
And the movie continues on that very even keel. Hiddleston, Larson and co show up to provide some humans by which to judge the scale of the beasties by, Goodman as ever proves to be the MVP, and Reilly has a lot of fun with his wise but wacky old owl turn (and gets a nice and well earned end titles coda.) The film paints everything in huge broad strokes, but it’s to the director and his cast’s credit that the film’s characters – as generic as they may be – are established really swiftly, and are notably distinguishable from each other. Sticking with its own ‘70s imposed vibe, it’s not a million miles way from everyone arriving for the opening of The Towering Inferno, just before the sparks fly. And when the sparks fly in this particular disaster movie, boy, do they fly!
We are in the world of universe building here however, and we know that at some point Kong (noticeably bigger than in any previous screen incarnation) is at some point due to battle Godzilla in the coming years – even though the film kind of already does that in its final act here. (Here be lizards!) That said, stay for the end titles – even if the copyright notice does give things away a tad. (Here be “Destroy All Monsters.”)
Aided and abetted by a brilliant period soundtrack that manages to bring together Bowie, Sabbath and Vera Lynn, Skull Island is the hug amount of fun its trailer promised it would be. Proof – if it were ever needed - that it’s good to be the King
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