Kong: Skull Island Review: A Roaring, Monster Movie Throwback

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Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Kong: Skull Island (#6 of 14)

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Toby Kebbell, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann

Running Time: 118 mins

Rating: 12A

Release Date: March 10th, 2017

A B-movie creature feature ripped straight from the olden days of cinema, KONG: SKULL ISLAND is a retro throwback with an A-list budget and cast. Gone is the self seriousness of the Peter Jackson film – here it’s about monsters and good old fashioned thrills, all brought to life by Jordan Vogt-Roberts eye catching colour scheme and vivid imagery. Never has Kong or a Hollywood blockbuster looked this good or been this much fun.
 
The last we saw of Kong was back in 2005, in Peter Jackson’s overlong but thrilling KING KONG. Overstuffed but a technical achievement, the film was a two hour classic bloated out into three hours. With the arrival of the GODZILLA reboot in 2014 and the eventual showdown between Kong and Godzilla that’s scheduled to hit cinemas in 2020, it’s time for the ape to return to our screens in his own reboot. John Goodman and Corey Hawkins are two researchers intent on finding the last piece of undiscovered land on earth – Skull Island. Enlisting the help of Tom Hiddleston‘s expert tracker, Brie Larson‘s war photographer and Samuel L. Jackson‘s platoon of Vietnam troopers, they’re ready for anything, except the skyscraper sized ape that attacks them as they fly in.
Stranded all over the island, the divided teams have to make their way to the pick up point on the other side of the island, avoiding Kong, gruesome insects and underground dwelling lizards.

Image result for Kong: Skull Island 2017

If you’ve managed to catch any of the trailers for KONG: SKULL ISLAND you may have noticed one particularly endearing feature that makes it stand out; it’s colourful. Gone are drab greys and blacks, instead replaced by dizzying oranges and furious reds. The film is loud and bright, in the best possible way – it understands exactly what it wants to do and does it masterfully; keeping the audience entertained like hell.

Standing out from the depressing trend of films trying to be gritty and dark, so dark you actually can’t see what’s going on (the aforementioned GODZILLA), Skull Island has a beautiful, visually distinctive look to it, from shots of fireballs reflecting in a pilots sunglasses to the numerous pan ups of Kong as he stands tall among the rest of the inhabitants of the island. Best of all, the film loves Kong; his fight scenes are brutal and angry, his strength and size incredibly intimidating but it also remembers that he’s the good guy. One particularly quiet moment where Kong tends to his wounds in a lake does more to make us feel for the ape then any heroic action scene could.

Watch the KONG: SKULL ISLAND European Premiere red carpet interviews here with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

The human cast are more than expendable as well, Goodman and Jackson especially have to spout a lot of nonsense that would sound ridiculous coming from lesser actors. Jackson carries some intensity here as a war general who, with the Vietnam war over, has no one left to fight. His squad, rounded out by Thomas Mann, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham and Toby Kebbell are a likable bunch of ragtags with personality, Whigham especially deadpanning his way through the film.

Larson uses her natural charm to make her character stand out while Hiddleston, although stuck with the necessary ‘good looking action star role’ is dependable as the straight arrow among the cast. If anything Hawkins and Tian Jing are saddled with forgettable characters with not much to do but that’s to blame the wide character list, not the actors themselves. John C. Reilly is the grand standout here; having been stranded on the island for 20 plus years, he’s understandably happy and a little bit loopy when others arrive. The always welcome Reilly is clearly having a blast here, and his enthusiasm carries some of the more duller parts.

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With an emphasis on fun, KONG: SKULL ISLAND is a visual treat, with some of the most visually striking images to be seen in a Hollywood blockbuster. The script carries some of the weight too, as it’s essentially a war movie that includes monsters. Giving some real personality to its large cast of characters and with some terrific creature designs (look out for the spider), KONG: SKULL ISLAND is B-movie fun wrapped in A-list shine.

RATING

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Author: Ryan Girard

Film and TV Journalist Follow: @filmandtvnow Read More