Spring of Sci-Fi Review #9
Kong: Skull Island, released in 2017 and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is the second entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse. Kong: Skull Island is one of the better entries in that universe, embracing the B-Movie concept. The movie begins with two fighter pilots crashing on a beach. It is 1944 during World War 2, and the pilots are American pilot Hank Marlow (played here by Will Brittain, later played by John C. Reily) and Japanese pilot Gunpei Ikari (played by Miyavi). We get our first glimpse at Kong as the two fight on the island and are frozen in their tracks by the massive gorilla. The movie then moves to 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. Monarch agents Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are trying to get to Skull Island. They recruit James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbel), and Cole (Shea Whigham). There are more people on the survey and military teams, but these are the most important. The human characters are insignificant next to Kong, who brutalizes their helicopters on entry. He attacks because they are using bombs to survey the area, killing wildlife and wrecking Skull Islands environment.
One thing about King Kong movies that always irks me is the human characters. They exploit and destroy whatever is in their path for their gain. Bill Randa, the Monarch agent, knows Kong is on the island and uses the bombs to get his attention. This causes Preston Packard, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, to seek revenge on Kong even though they are the ones who invaded his territory. Samuel L. Jackson knows exactly what kind of movie this is and gives one of the better performances in the movie. John C. Reily as Hank Marlow is also great. He serves as a slight comic relief but has an interesting story about wanting to get back home to his wife who he has not seen in nearly 30 years due to being trapped on Skull Island. Other than these two performances, no one else stands out. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson seem like they are set up to be the protagonist of the movie, but have little to no screen time at certain parts of the movie. The characters, like in 2014’s Godzilla, leave a lot to be desired. However, unlike that movie, this movie embraces the B-movie concept and to me is an improvement.
Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining monster movie–which is a lot more violent than I was expecting–with excellent special effects and two performances from Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reily which are entertaining to watch. The rest of the characters are serviceable to what we want to see, and that is the glory of Kong. I was surprised I enjoyed this one more than Godzilla since I have always enjoyed Godzilla’s previous movies more, but this movie was entertaining and fun.