Kong: Skull Island – Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writers: Dan Gilroy (screenplay), Max Borenstein (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
The big screen, and 3D in particular, is made for flashy big budget blockbusters; and this is just what you get with Kong: Skull Island. Thankfully moving away from Peter Jackson’s melodramatic epic of 2005, the new film enters the ring with all guns blazing, in the most literal sense.
With the Vietnam war drawing to a close, conspiracy theorist Bill Randa (John Goodman) gains permission to lead a scientific expedition to the mysterious and uncharted Skull Island, along with a military escort lead by Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel J. Jackson;) who is desperate to regain the glory of elusive victory before returning home.
How should one enter completely unknown territory? With helicopters, explosives, and Black Sabbath on the loud-speakers, of course. Unsurprisingly, it’s not long before their brash entrance disrupts some of the island’s inhabitants, including the biggest Kong to date. Thus begins the core of the film, as disparate bands of survivors, including ex-special forces tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), and ‘photojournalist’ Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), struggle to reunite and journey to their exit point on the far side of the island.
The iconic King Kong has been a feature of our screens since the 1933 classic, which many have tried and failed to surpass. Perhaps the strongest element of the latest film is the decision to base all the action on Skull Island, rather than transplanting Kong to ‘civilisation’; helping to avoid comparison with the film’s most famous predecessors, and giving more interest to the ape himself. Following 2014’s Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island is part two of a planned ‘MonsterVerse’ produced by Legendary, and distributed by Warner. More complete than the franchise’s opening film, Kong suggests we may have even better things to look forward to.
With giant creatures, trigger happy US soldiers, and a supporting cast including Tom Hiddleston’s biceps; this is not a deep or intelligent film. Many of its characters are uninspiring (with the exception of the magnificently dramatic John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson), and it’s unwise to delve too deeply into the flaws and plot holes. Instead it is fantastically entertaining, and fun film that should be taken at face value: Big names, big budget, and a very big ape.