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Kong: Skull Island Review

Updated on March 14, 2017
Kong: Skull Island IMAX 3D Theatrical poster
Kong: Skull Island IMAX 3D Theatrical poster

All Hail The King!

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 American monster movie film directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts.The film is the second film by producer Legendary Pictures to be includes in its Monster Verse. The film is a reboot of the King Kong franchise in hopes of prepping the monster for its bout with Godzilla. The film boasts an illustrious cast featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John Goodman.

The majority of the films' setting takes place on the elusive Skull Island. Skull Island is as a place hidden away from everyone. It is filled with jungles, lakes, and dense forests. It is proof that ancient creatures still roam our Earth. Creature we can never imagine such as giant spiders, skull-crawling lizards, ancient inhabitants, and giant apes! There are more monsters on Skull Island and each have their own elaborate design. Rough or soft features. Giant or small—they're all unique.

Lieutenant Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson)
Lieutenant Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson)

Characters

The films' characters are Bill Randa (John Goodman), the man who sets up the expedition into an uncharted island deep in the Pacific Ocean. They are escorted by a squadron of soldiers and their leader Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Photo-journalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) accompany the expedition to cover the excursion. And Captain James Howard (Tom Hiddleston) is hired especially for his expertise and survival skills. Last but not least, John Reilly (Hank Marlow) is the comedic relief; he has the funniest one-liners and moments.

The characters all have conflicting moral compasses. James and especially Mason sympathize with Kong. They are more reasonable and pacifistic. They realize that he's just protecting his home. Lieutenant Packard, after losing so many of his men—hates the beast. All the other characters fall into these two categories: save Kong or kill him. This creates an especially high amount of tension during the film's second and third act.

Samuel L. Jackson almost steals the movie from Kong. His moments are the definition to epic. He'll stare down the beast showing no fear. He'll spearhead the attack on the beast with his squadron with no hesitance.

The Squadron on Skull Island
The Squadron on Skull Island

Setting

The film's post-Vietnam period sets the heavy war tone of the film. Tensions are high and soldiers are ready to go home. However, some get enlisted to fight—again. And they go essentially, what is a "monster island" and have to fight for their survival. However, Kong shares the same mentality as well. This is his home and he makes short work of anyone who dares to challenge him. The best action sequences come from the battle between Kong and the military forces. As well as, Kong versus the skull crawlers. As is expected of war, the film features multiple quick and sudden deaths on both sides.

Kong's excellent setting easily allows for good juxtaposition of scenes achieved through its excellent setting. Action scenes are sometimes intertwined with a close-up to emphasize what's happening. For example, when Kong is about to devour his victim—there's a cut to one of the characters eating a sandwich. The editing allows for the scenes to contrast and bring home the message. As a result, the scenes are much more impactful.

Brie Larson (Mason Weaver) and Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad)
Brie Larson (Mason Weaver) and Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad)

CGI & Special Effects

The film's special effects and CGI were exceptionally done. When Kong emerges from the flames to look at his victim, the fire roars out in luscious shades of red and orange. The scene where everyone is fighting in the ashes at the Kong grave site is visually astonishing. Close-ups of Kong eyes show all the different parts of his iris in great detail. His fur is not just made up of layers, but covered in dense forestry His colossal body seems like another world in itself. Plus, the sound effects featuring The Skull-crawlers' and Kong's roars are loud and satisfying!

Kong
Kong

Kong

Without a doubt, this is an origin story bout Kong before he becomes the infamous "King Kong." The film does a good job intertwining Kong and the history of Skull Island. By all means, Skull Island is Kong's true home. He roams the island in order to gather food. He washes himself in the rivers of the island's waters. He sits and watches the stars at night. From the film, I've gathered that he is: a gentle giant, good natured, and a natural born savior. Ironically, his love for blondes stay intact. He is good to anyone, who is good to him. But, if he's disrespected he will lash out. And it will not be pretty.

Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver

Action!

Whether it be from the soldiers or Kong itself, the action scenes make up the highlights of the film. The soldiers are well characterized and equipped to handle the danger on this island. And surprisingly, they are all strong and dangerous in their own right. Taking what they learned from their experience in Vietnam, teamwork was an important part of the group's survival. While fighting giant monsters, they work together to perform team attacks. Man is definitely a threat in this film.

Kong action scenes are not to make light of as well. The first act sees the ape take out several helicopters with ease. The fights against the monsters are well choreographed. Each of the monsters Kong fights—fights him differently. They use their bodies to their advantage, however particular they may be. There is a sense of danger in these battles. Kong is literally fighting for his life.

Music

The film's music is composed of songs from the 1970's Vietnam Era. The score also has a few 70ish guitar riffs mixed into the score itself. As far as the soundtrack, the film features hits from the 70s such as Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", The Hollies "Long Cool Woman(In A Black Dress)", Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", etc. The music coupled with the setting of a monster island allows for a cool dichotomy to happen which makes the film all the more interesting.

James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson)
James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson)

Cinematography

Cinematography is the film's greatest strength. Using the poster as a preface, the scene where Kong is silhouetted by the sunrise is awe-inspiring. The shoot outs against Kong, when it switches to first person, is magnificent. The bobbling of the bobble head of President Nixon, shaking as the helicopters flew into the dark storm clouds. There was extreme care in putting together the shots. Slow-mo in certain scenes, enhance what is happening on screen. Epic moments are made even more epic with certain close-ups. Deaths are made even more excruciating with transitions into close-ups. Film also has a subtitle hue that reminds the viewers that the film is a period piece.

Closing

Kong: Skull Island is a great monster film that takes elements from a war film. The constant warfare gives the movie its natural tension. The Vietnam setting is perfect for this type of movie. The characters are just as interesting and exciting as the monsters are. The film's shortcomings are minimal at beast. Some scenes can be a little campy and take away from the seriousness of the film. However, the action and story will keep you engaged. The iconic Kong moments will leave anyone nostalgic and itching for more to come. Cheers—until Kong vs. Godzilla.

4 stars for Kong: Skull Island

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