Studio: Warner Bros. (1 hr. 58 min)
Plot: A reimaging of the King Kong legend.
Cast: King Kong, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing
Bottom Line: ***
By Jon Rutledge
This is less a reboot of the King Kong story and more a launching off spot for a shared Kaiju (giant monsters) franchise. This is a great start to the MonsterVerse there are hits we can expect to see more. This film brought me right back to being a kid watching on Saturday morning creature feature. It has fun, great characters as well as being balanced in story and plot. The effects surrounding making giant monsters fight alongside live actors is seamlessly done. I loved it
In 1973 an organization known as Monarch asks the government for support in exploring a new island with a military escort. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Cory Hawkins) head the expedition with Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a photo journalist, and James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a survival expert and former member of the SAS. They get support from Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his team to get them to and from the island after doing a survey of the land. In their adventure on the island they run into Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) who crashed on the island during WWII and survived.
In the classic films the good ones had a lesson about man grappling with humanity while giant monsters did battle on the screen. I am glad they kept this same format we see two different kinds of people dealing with this unusual situation. We have the military minded person who sees Kong as an enemy to kill and we have the scientists who see him as something to study. They fight for control as they also struggle to survive in an environment where they have more than just Kong to worry about.
Samuel L. Jackson plays a military man who uses his fight with Kong as a method of working out some internal strife with his work in the military overall. Jackson embodies the metaphorical fight with Kong being a fight for his own self-worth. His death wish and drive for revenge blind him to the fact that they are the intruders on the island and Kong is defending his home. The other great character was John C. Reilly. He absolutely steals every scene he is in. The touches of crazy that show through his performance are excellent. Reilly does fun and quirky crazy really well.
The setting is the 70’s so we see the struggle between the two cultures the peace loving counter culture and the military establishment. Lt. Col. Packard’s military mindset and inflexibility stand perfectly against the more open and flexible view of the Weave the photo journalist. Jackson and Larson become avatars for each side of the social struggle played out not only in the war but also on this struggle on the island.
What Iron Man did to herald in the Marvel Universe, Kong: Skull Island does for the Monstervers. It will be nice to see a solid set of films that are made by people who understand all of the nuances of these kinds of films. It’s not just monsters fighting the screen it’s much larger than that. This franchise is going to be big especially if they keep producing quality films that teach as well as entertain. You might even say they are going to be gigantic?
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Printed in the April 2 - 15, 2017 edition