Kong: Skull Island is the latest reboot from the original King Kong movie which was initially released in 1933. The King Kong franchise is one of the most popular in movie history and has already had some successful remakes in the past. We all remember the last King Kong reboot by The Lord of the Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson which won 3 Oscars at the Academy Awards in 2006. Just to point out that the stakes are high for the current director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The cast of Kong: Skull Island is very impressing to say the least, starring actors such as Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and the beautiful Brie Larson. It should be noted that Kong: Skull Island is developed by the producers of the latest Godzilla (2014) reboot, which set the tone for nowadays’ monster movie. Will Kong: Skull island be a worthy successor of King Kong? Or will we see it get nominated for ‘Worst Film’ in next year’s Razzie Awards?
The story of Kong: Skull Island starts off near the end of World war II when two airplanes crash on what seems to be a deserted island. The surviving pilots engage in a fistfight, but are rapidly interrupted by our favorite great ape. The story then time jumps almost 30 years into the future to 1973 where scientists Bill Randa and Houston Brooks, played by John Goodman and Corey Hawkings respectively, visit the U.S. government to request funding and permission for an expedition to the unexploited Skull Island. They are accompanied by a military escort led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), retired expert tracker-survivalist James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and anti-combat photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). The party sets course to Skull Island, which is constantly surrounded by electrical storms and magnetic interference, setting the scene for the remainder of the movie. Upon arrival, they are initially astonished by the island’s beautiful surroundings, however the group quickly realizes that this isn’t just an ordinary summer holiday. They end up facing the great Kong, who isn’t really happy to see these unwanted visitors. The group gets separated and the remaining survivors learn that Randa and Brooks are working for Monarch, a multinational organization created in secret by the U.S. government to study the giant creatures that live in the world. This point is when the story really takes off and things start going wrong.
Kong: Skill Island is the second installment in the ‘gigamonster series’ after Godzilla, which was originally released in 2014. After watching Godzilla I was left with mixed feelings since only the first part of the movie felt really great, most likely due to an excellent performance of Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. The second part of Godzilla was mediocre and was mainly focused on CG creations and battle scenes, in stead of focusing on the actual storyline. With this opinion in mind, I was a bit worried about watching Kong: Skull Island.
As CG creations go, the makers have done a great job to establish a realistic picture of Kong. This feeling was enhanced by watching the picture in IMAX 3D, which makes you feel like you’re part of the expedition as well. The makers also chose not to go with a typical King Kong storyline, which I could definitely appreciate. To give one example, Mason Weaver isn’t that typical girl Kong falls in love with.
Regarding the actors, I can say that I was left a tad disappointed. From time to time I chose to watch movies and TV shows not only for their storyline, but also to enjoy an actor’s performance. I find that you may feel cheated on when you adapt the same methodology for this movie. Trailers and posters from the movie depict Tom Hiddleston and Mason Weaver as the lead characters, however this is absolutely not the case. They don’t have a lot of screen time, their conversations during the movie feel unnecessary and in general I felt their acting performance was limited to frowning faces and looking worried. Additionally, I felt like Hiddleston was performing different characters throughout the entire movie. I was also a bit disappointed by the John Goodman, to whose performance I was really looking forward to after his superb role in 10 Cloverfield Lane. The real credit goes out to actors Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly who actually stand out in this movie in my opinion.
I wasn’t always satisfied while listening to the soundtrack behind various scenes during the movie. The producers clearly decided to move away from suspense-creating tunes and replaced these with noisy rock guitars and drums. When you think a romantic scene is coming up, you are engulfed by the sounds of ‘Ziggy Stardust’ by David Bowie which is per sé not a wrong choice since the song was released around the same time the movie is situated. In my opinion the makers should have chosen to go with an original soundtrack, which in most cases improves the movie’s general quality.
In general, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts did a great job making an atypical King Kong reboot. The music, the CGI, the island, … all aspects contribute to a unique atmosphere this movie is ought to e set in. Just like Godzilla, the movie does feel as if it consists of multiple parts. The first part of the movie really builds up a certain suspense, whereas the next parts are filled with battle scenes as if they were taken from any Transformers movie.
Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining movie that you should definitely view when you’re a fan of the monster genre. If you are able, watch the movie in IMAX 3D since this will absolutely enhance your viewing experience.
Written by S. Hofmans