Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Written by: John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly
Growing up, I use to watch all the old monster movies like King Kong, Godzilla, Gamera, etc. They were cool to watch as a kid, you had big monsters, but not scary, throwing down with each other and smashing up cities. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to notice things like special effects and what it took to make these monsters move.
When you lay out all the movies, old school films to newer, the evolution of special effects and how they’ve changed through the years is amazing. Like back in the day when Kong first appeared in a movie he used stop-motion to get around. Nowadays, the movie world has advanced to levels where we can use motion-capture to give an even more realistic look and movement to our beloved gigantic ape. Being able to see the progression of Kong over time has been pretty cool, and it really makes you appreciate all the hard work that has gone into making all the films from King Kong (1933) to Kong: Skull Island (2017).
Here’s what Kong: Skull Island is about. A team of scientists and military personnel are sent to the Pacific to explore an uncharted island. Once they get there, the scientists use explosives, developed by a seismologist, to map out the island. Unfortunately, once the bombings start, the team quickly realize that some of the inhabitants of the island may not be so keen on them being there.
The story that the writers (Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, and John Gatins) came up with seemed pretty simple at first glance. They came up with a believable explanation as to why everyone winds up on the island, but once everyone gets there the story really takes off and turns into something far from a simple monster movie.
Surprisingly, Kong: Skull Island manages to use all three basic plot themes man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. himself and are intertwined throughout the movie. What I thought was cool was as they touch on the moral of the story it wasn’t in a preachy way or from a soap box like “Look, humans bad!” like in some movies.
Now, as far as reboots go, I’m usually not a big fan of them. However, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who directed this one, did a surprisingly great job at creating the right pace and a fitting look for the film. Enough so that I even got some old-school feels while watching it. Yeah, the special effects were bright, shiny and new looking, but the overall movie was able to tap into whatever that “thing” was that made the old films enjoyable to watch over and over again.
Kong: Skull Island had a good cast and here are a few of the faces you’ll get to see: Tom Hiddleston (Thor), Brie Larson (Free Fire), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers), John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) and John Goodman (The Big Lebowski). I thought the entire cast did a great job, and I was even surprised by liking John C. Reilly’s performance. The reason why Reilly surprised me was I’m really not a big fan of his, but I liked his character and thought he did a good job balancing both the comedic and serious moments of his role. Come to find out, it took two people to do the work of Kong. Terry Notary did the motion capture of Kong and Toby Kebbell, who also starred as Jack Chapman in the film, was used for Kong’s facial references.
For the most part, I thought Kong: Skull Island was really good, and it only had a few plot holes when it came to the story, which didn’t bother me too much. I think the biggest problem I had was how the main (monster) villain, the skull-crawlers, didn’t fit the look of the movie. The skull-crawlers looked like something that would fit in perfectly with Pitch Black. The skull-crawlers are seriously dark and menacing looking, but when you look at some of the other inhabitants on the island they just didn’t fit in.
Yeah, I know I’m arguing about a film that stars like a thousand foot ape, but still! The island is a dense jungle setting with, for the most part, fitting creatures. The skull-crawlers on the other hand, look like they escaped from some hellish nightmare place and I kept waiting for Riddick to jump in and save everyone.
As far as effects, everything from sets to creatures looked amazing. Some of the close-up shots of Kong look mind-blowingly realistic. All of the effects blended in smoothly with the scenes.
For anyone that’s wondering about how child-friendly or visually graphic things get in the movie. Yeah, it’s rated PG-13, but has violence and language throughout the movie. There are some scenes that could put a fright into the little kids or turn the stomach of some adults. Example, Kong turns a creature wrong side out… A guy gets divided up into snackable pieces between some creatures. Now the snackable part is from a distance so it’s not extremely visual, but clear enough that you still get a full idea of what happened.
If there are any monster fans (like myself) out there that are wanting more Kong, then you’re (kind of) in luck. Yes, we will be getting another Kong movie, but we’ll have to wait for it. Apparently, Warner Bros. has plans for a Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie in 2019. Then we finally get to see Kong again in Godzilla vs. Kong, which is supposed to be released in May 2020. So, a little bit of a wait, then (hopefully) we get to see a serious battle royale style throw down for the title of the king!
Overall, I got old-school feels from a new school film, which was seriously cool. If you haven’t seen Kong: Skull Island yet… you should!