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
Release Date: March 10th, 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.
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.
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.