A fun monster movie that isn’t afraid to just go for it. Kong: Skull Island was a movie that I had been looking forward to since the release of Godzilla (2014). I remember at the time, it was just called Skull Island and I wasn’t actually sure of Kong would be a main focus or not. It was some time ago, so I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking. Also my only real King Kong movie that I had seen prior was the one that Peter Jackson directed. A very good movie, a little long, but overall solid. Knowing that this was going to be a part of the Warner Bros “Monsterverse” gave me a lot more curiosity too. When it finally came out, I watched it in theatres with a bunch of friends and remember having a great time.
This is the first time I’ve watched the film since I got it on blu-ray back in 2017. I’m not sure why I never went back to it despite my love for it the first two times, but I finally decided to review it as I’m currently watching a bunch of monster movies and recently reviewed Godzilla (2014). What I do know is that I was mistaken in not watching this movie more because it’s an absolute blast from start to finish. A lot of times when I watch a movie that I have seen before, I’ll be working on typing or something else. I started this movie like that, but it didn’t take long before I was hooked into just watching it.
This has everything you want in a monster movie. It has the over the top action, with the over the top characters, and the over the top story. The only thing this movie doesn’t have is an extended cut of over six hours because I would’ve loved it. It really all boils down to the fantastic directing job by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. He’s not a household name and doesn’t have an extensive resume yet, but he certainly came out with a swing on his first big budget film.
It’s is visual style that really keeps me so engaged with this movie. He has some similar flare to that of old Vietnam war movies, which of course makes sense since it takes place at the end of the war. It’s not just the comparison to those movies though and the general feel, but also the vibrant colors he uses to give you that very tropical feel. It’s not just the environment though. You also have the explosions that are always that orange color that bounce well off the surroundings, specifically one moment when the green gas arrives to add a mixture of colors that visually is very awesome.
Outside of his directing style though, you have an incredible cast that only gets deeper the more you look at it. Most of the characters were great with John Goodman being the only character I probably could have done without. The soldiers outside of Samuel L. Jackson are all so unique and different while also bringing the majority of the comedic moments. I could have seen the war movie with all of them that preceded this movie.
The real highlights though would be Samuel L. Jackson who plays the Captain Ahab of this story and Tom Hiddleston who is the tracker. Jackson does what he always does and just has the perfect lines while dragging his soldiers on a hunt for Kong. He isn’t anything special outside of what he normally is in most of his movies, but it was a real joy to see hi in this movie. Hiddleston had a slightly less role to play, but ended up giving me one of my favorite moments in the whole movie when he grabs the gas mask and the sword. Absolutely perfect.
The other two actors that I want to point out are Brie Larson and John C. Reilly who both played important roles and were enjoyable, but ultimately they just paled in comparison to the other characters. They were good with what they had to work with, but honestly I’m surprised they had as much as they did with all of the talent in this movie.
Enough about the actors though. Most of the monster movies I’ve watched here lately have all had the issue of taking forever to get to the monster. This movie seems to have the best story outside of Jaws leading up to the monster and is the most enjoyable to watch. It never felt like it took all that long to get to Kong, but it also came out of nowhere. Kong is presented in one of the most badass scenes in a monster movie. It had great perspective as he was wiping out the helicopters and stepping on the soldiers. The great thing about this film and Godzilla, is their actual handling of perspective of the monsters from the ground level. They both know how to make the creatures feel even larger from a person’s point of view.
Kong really never seems like he has enough screen time in the film though since the focus is mostly on this crew trying to escape the island after their encounter with Kong. This makes sense with the title having Skull Island. I just wish we could have gotten a little more of him throughout the film. What we did get was very awesome though. We get to see him face off against the Skull Crawlers which are kind of lame, but we also get to see him face off against a giant squid. The final battle is the best part, but really it just made me even more excited to see him face off against Godzilla.
I could go on and on with everything I liked about this movie, but I need to cut it short before this gets too long. This movie has everything you could want out of a monster movie or a blockbuster popcorn movie. It isn’t for everyone of course and it’s not one of the best films ever, but this is one of the most fun movies that knows that it’s just trying to have fun. They just went for it with this movie and all of the ridiculous elements. This is how you do a monster movie when you want to just throw it all out on the table, but still have cards left in your hand. It gave us so much, yet I know that there’s still more for the giant ape in the future that I can’t wait for.