Kong: Skull Island - Into The Unknown World
Kong: Skull Island takes a look at the search for King Kong. Set primarily in 1973, Tom Hiddleston stars as James Conrad, a down-on-his-luck British officer who has just finished a tour of duty in Vietnam with Australian forces. A skilled tracker, Conrad gets approached by Bill Randa (John Goodman) about a mission to an uncharted island. He's uncovered evidence about the existence of a creature thought to be mythical. Randa soon reveals himself to be a part of a secret government agency called Monarch, who has financed an expedition. Randa also gets a squadron of American soldiers led by Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and a Landsat team that includes Victor Nieves (John Ortiz). Also hired by Monarch is Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a photographer who thinks there may be an ulterior motive to this expedition.
Things go wrong, though, when the entourage arrives on Skull Island. They lose communication with the outside world as creatures native to the island attack and kill many of them. They look for signs of human life and find that in Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a former fighter pilot living among the natives since his plane was shot down in World War II. He helps the outsiders with navigating the creatures and other dangers of Skull Island while some of Packard's troops try and make Marlow's improvised boat work. Randa's speculation about King Kong get confirmed, but not before the skullcarwlers and other creatures inflict more casualties. As they prepare to leave, Packard wants to make sure nobody else gets left behind.
Kong: Skull Island is a fun look at the famed gorilla before he left Skull Island. The beginning is a little slow, but engaged me more when Marlow made his appeaarance. I like the mix of modern history with a place that has been virtually untouched by it. Kong: Skull Island is a part of a proposed film series that looks like it will proceed with sequels. This version of King Kong is much more interesting than the epic bore made by Peter Jackson. He is the protector of the humans on this land, and does not tolerate trouble. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts creates a land whose creatures seem to be descendants of giant prehistoric animals, which makes winning a fight against them a longshot. The story is pure popcorn, which helps to make the movie appealing.
While Reilly doesn't have the lead role, he steals the show with the very likable Marlow. He longs for home, hoping to catch up to his wife and an adult son he has never met. He had resigned himself to living out his days on the island, but meeting the Monarch team gives him a fresh enthusiasm to get home while showing the incoming group ways to avoid disaster. I also like Larson as Weaver, who got the call for this mission because it was assumed she was male (though Monarch sent its own woman in San Lin, played by Jing Tian). While she has skepticism about military missions and admits to being a pacifist, she shows she will fight a leafwing when it threatens to fly away with her. Hiddleston and Jackson also contribute decent performances as soldiers looking out for their people, as does Goodman as the curious Randa. Besides the actors already mentioned, the ensemble includes Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, and Thomas Mann in good support.
Kong: Skull Island is not a great film, but that doesn't matter. A group sets out to reveal the secrets of a place of mystery, and gets more mystery than they want. Their mission becomes a fight for survival, where they meet a creature whose ways they don't know. They also come to the aid of a man presumed dead who sees a chance to finally go home. The mission is a whole new war for the soldiers who just left one. They want to accomplish more on this mission than they did on the previous one.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Kong: Skull Island three stars. A good way to go ape.