Making Peter Jackson look bad. So there is an island in the Pacific Ocean that has a perpetual storm around it. It is the last bit of uncharted land on this Earth. When there is an opening in the storm, a team of scientists decide to make their move to do some research with a military escort. They find an island filled with gigantic creatures, including an ape the size of a skyscraper. 2005’s King Kong left a lot to be desired. Some of the special effects were cool, but it just never came together, and when it was the bloated length of a Lord of the Rings movie without good reason, it was difficult to walk away from it with positive feelings. It was high time for a movie like Kong: Skull Island, which is far more respectful of your time.
Everybody knows why we are here.
Now this is not something that is going to be remembered as something groundbreaking. The special effects look great to be sure, but the story isn’t anything special. When those two intersect you can get something incredible like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but that is a rarity. This does exactly what it set out to do: to be a monster brawl movie. In addition to King Kong, there are lots of other giant creatures on this island. It becomes clear pretty early on that Kong isn’t even really a bad guy, he’s just protecting his home. You get plenty of scenes of big CGI monsters battling one another, and it is fun in a juvenile sense in the best way possible. It’s why you paid the price of admission, and the creators of that are well aware of that. In addition, you can tell that this director was heavily influenced by Apocalypse Now, and it shows in the cinematography. There is sometimes a thin line between homage and rip-off, but this plays it just right to pay its respect while giving this monster movie its own unique look.
I love the smell of giant burning ape skulls in the morning.
I know there are people out there that like it, but I was not a fan of 2014’s Godzilla, namely because Godzilla was about 90 minutes late to his own movie. In my opinion, this is way better than that, simply because there is so much more payoff. There have been rumblings of an interconnected universe, but we will see if that actually comes to fruition (everybody wants to follow the Marvel template nowadays because it is such good business). The characters are not all that deep despite getting good actors in the roles, and they end up being more monster fodder than anything, but hey: that’s the entire reason you’re watching this, right?
Kong: Skull Island (2017) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire