Kong: Skull Island drops viewers straight into a world at once familiar and different to that of “creature from another feature” Godzilla. The pseudoscience remains, alongside a menagerie of fantastic beasts. Where to find them is a mission for Hiddleston, Larson and company, aping the upriver pilgrimage of Apocalypse Now. Kong is Kurtz, but, as is traditional, the real monsters might also be human. This is one of many steps Kong takes along a well-trodden path; a technique forgivable only for films doing “the same, but better”. Kong is that better film.
What sets Kong apart from Godzilla is a much-welcomed injection of fun. Gone is the po-faced angst, replaced with a rocking soundtrack, napalm-intoxicated high-octane action and a genuinely funny streak. The cast play this with gusto, each earning their star and place. Watching Kong is simply cool – looks great, sounds great, is great. That gorgeous poster isn’t an exaggeration of the striking visuals and creative approach to world-building and shooting style.
Even if you’d normally shy away from King Kong vs. Giant Cephalopod, Kong gives a great monster mash. Man and ape encounter a range of inhabitants on the unexplored island, often for a quick fistfight but each with its own twist. An imaginative mix of myths, prehistoric and simply oversized, some of the monsters are ripped directly out of the lost world – literally, in the case of a near beat-for-beat redo of an incident from Jurassic World.
A reboot with refinement, this is exactly the story (and movie) Kong needed to break out of the celluloid cage he’s been kept in. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, following the stellar rise of Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards, is one to watch; he’s the guy who proved definitively that Kong truly is King.
CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson
DIRECTOR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
WRITERS: Dan Gilroy (story and screenplay), Max Borenstein (screenplay), John Gatins (story), Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace (original story)
SYNOPSIS: A team of explorers and soldiers travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong.