Looks to be giant monsters are getting their own shared cinematic universe like Marvel and DC before them. Unlike 2014’s Godzilla however, Kong is surprisingly entertaining, but the two couldn’t be more different tonally – which will be strange when the two beasts have their own Batman v Superman-esque battle in a few years. But for now Kong: Skull Island is the origin story prequel movie of the ape called King.
In an incredibly stylised and saturated film from relative newcomer Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (he made Kings of Summer in 2013, a highly recommended little indie flick) Kong is a visual fiesta of vibrant colour, wacky framing and slow motion set in the jungles of an undiscovered island that is reminiscent of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam meets Hawaii. It adds a lot of production value and kudos for the attention to detail, even if there’s a handful of spit take your popcorn cheesiness.
The time is 1973 and John Goodman is leading an expedition to Skull Island; a mythic place rumoured to be home to monsters. Enlisting Samuel L. Jackson and his troop of soldiers on their way back from the war, a British tracker played by Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson as a photojournalist, the journey is doomed to fail from what we see in the first frame of the trailer, as myth becomes reality.
It isn’t long until the group are set upon by a cohort of hilariously huge animals like an octopus, stick insects and, I’m afraid for those with arachnophobia – big spiders. The biggest boy, however, is a gorilla the size of a skyscraper, Kong. Initially thought to be a vicious killer it is soon revealed he is the peacekeeper of the island and is worshipped by the natives that live there, including John C. Reilly, a WWII veteran who crashed there 28 years earlier.
The majority of the storyline for this movie is the group of scientists and soldiers who try to get to their extraction point off Skull Island alive, with a fair chunk of turmoil between people and the beast along the way. The character development is shonky, albeit attempted with such a huge cast and there are some glaring plot holes too that are best not answered for the sake of pure enjoyment.
Kong is a great re-establishment of a very old and famous tale, done with enough fun and embracing the genre of being a pure big blockbuster with solid VFX and cinematography, that does entice you into wanting to see what happens next. As we get more used to shared universe films, we’ll tolerate monsters fighting each other, for when it gets even sillier and we see Nemo and Dory working with Captain Jack Sparrow (probably) one day, suddenly the concept will seem normal. Bring on the next ones.xvxv