Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

In 1973, William Randa (John Goodman), with his assistants Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) and San Lin (Jing Tian) endeavor to chart a mysterious island in the middle of a perpetual storm. Enlisting the help of James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former British army captain and Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson), a United States Army Lieutenant Colonel, the team, also joined by photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), launch their mission to get to the mysterious skull-shaped island, with no knowledge of the horrors they might find there. Kong: Skull Island is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (whom Wikipedia tells me is helming the upcoming/planned Metal Gear Solid movie) and was released in 2017.

+ the cast is absolutely phenomenal, including the smaller bit players. All the main cast – Goodman, Hiddleston, Jackson, Larson – are great, but it is the backup soldier cast that make much of the film feel so important. Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz and Shea Wingham are all joys to watch, with Wingham in particular being a personal favourite
+ the film is genuinely charming. Even when people are being torn apart horribly, there is room for the lighter moments between characters. John C Reilly is absolutely on point in terms of comedic timing, particularly because of his character’s somewhat loose grasp on reality
+ some may not take this as a positive, but I enjoyed how quickly the film kicks into the main action. There is just the right amount of set up before things quickly turn into what we came to see: a giant monkey smashing stuff
+ the soundtrack is really good, featuring songs from Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Creedence Clearwater Revival and World War 2 musician Vera Lynn (I have a soft spot, don’t judge me. Apparently she is still kicking on at 100 years old. What a woman!)
+ much like Peter Jackson’s 2005 reboot (which is unrelated to this film) there are some terrifying other lifeforms on the island, including god damn spider creatures

kongskullisland_2.png
I resisted the urge to make a “gorilla warfare” joke.

– Toby Kebbell was severely underutilised. I am a fan of Kebbell, both as himself as well as his various motion-capture roles, and I was really hoping he would be a more important character than was shown here, especially after some early build up
– Larson’s character, photographer Mason Weaver, may well be the worst photographer in the history of taking photos. She constantly takes photos of the environment and natives, but once she comes face to face with a giant gorilla or monstrous skull-lizard things, she just stares at them through the lens before moving on. It really frustrated me
– one scene in the middle of the film, involving a samurai sword and gas mask, is just so absolutely horrible it really destroyed my immersion in the movie. It was legitimately one of the worst things I have ever seen in an otherwise fantastic film

> there is a post credits scene, and dammit it’s a big one. It may not be a surprise to some, but if you weren’t expecting it then it has some huge implications
> I enjoyed all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe actors being together; Jackson, Hiddleston and Reilly will soon be joined by Larson, while Kebbell plays a part in the 20th Century Fox Marvel movies

Should you see this film: I don’t really know what I was expecting before watching this, but I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. All of the cast are fantastic, the film is beautifully shot and the effects were consistently impressive. I think you will definitely enjoy this film.

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