Photo courtesy of scified.com
The ticket to a successful film nowadays is to make something zeitgeist-y and culturally relevant to today’s times. Kong: Skull Island may be the only film this year that eschews all of that in favor of heavy-handed entertainment.
The basic King Kong story is probably the most famous in cinematic history: a film crew goes to Skull Island and stumbles upon the great ape, the ape falls in love with the main actress on the production crew, they take the ape back to New York City to show him off, the ape escapes, climbs The Empire State Building, is shot down, “Twas beauty killed the beast.”
The most recent adaptation of the story came in 2005, when Peter Jackson directed the Oscar-nominated remake of the same name. Thinking back to that one made me appreciate Skull Island all the more.
Jackson’s version kept us on the ship towards Skull Island for a long time, this film doesn’t waste time doing that.
From there, you can pretty much take a stab at what lies in store for the team. However, Skull Island is rather unique in a milieu of ways. It’s influences aren’t directly sprung of Kaiju blood. There are plot elements taken from the great works of Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville, there is some excellent comic relief, and, above all else, when I walked out of the theater, I not only thought I had seen a pretty entertaining monster flick, but a pretty good Vietnam film, too.
There are some really impressive visuals on display here as well. It is probably one of the few times I have seen a movie exercise this many explosion in order to deliver moments of soon-to-be Kong iconography.
The only problem with the film is that it does play out like a typical adventure film. Explorers must go to an island and then try to find a way to survive.
Kong does not fall in love this time, but there are parts where you can see the romantic to come (yes, this will be a franchise, which makes me shiver to think that this was actually an origins story).
And what director Jordan Vogt-Roberts knows is that audiences will never not be aghasted at the sight of Kong’s mass. His idea is to focus more on the spectacle of it all rather than anything else, which was a solid choice. This is unlike 2014’s Godzilla, which made the mistake of not giving us enough Godzilla. Skull Island gives us as much Kong as we want.
There is certainly way more here to like than dislike. It may not be the greatest Kaiju film to be released, but those massive hands will always be entertaining.
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