Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
I've mentioned before my love for the works of Ray Harryhausen, and like the great man himself I have great affection for the 1933 immortal classic King Kong. One of my favorite movie memories is getting to see it projected up on the big screen on halloween night with my father when I was in the 5th grade. It's one of the first films I can credit with my burgeoning love of movies, and I've followed the big ape's exploits ever since. Last year it was announced that due to the success of Warner Bros. 2014 reboot of Godzilla, the company was planning their own "Monsterverse" with the next film lined up to be a new take on Kong. With an inevitable team up picture on the horizon I was unbelievably excited. I have been a fan Godzilla since childhood and absolutely loved the '14 take his mythology, so naturally I couldn't wait to see what was in store for the "King". So how does the new take on the big guy stack up? Lets dive right in and find out!
A team of scientists and soldiers set out to explore an uncharted island in the pacific an stumble upon a world full of miracles and monsters. After a violent encounter with a giant ape the party is split and has to try and make it to the north end of the island in three days as they are best upon by the native ecosystem.
So how does this iteration stack up against all the other versions of Kong? Surprisingly well I'm happy to report! The film is more like the Toho version of the ape then the original or Peter Jackson remake but in a good way. Kong has a huge amount of screen time and gets to fight numerous foes exhibiting the wonderful work from the people at Industrial Light & Magic. All the action sequences are clearly shot and choreographed so the pure power and ferocity of Kong really comes across to the audience. The biggest surprise of all though is how refreshingly funny and self aware the film is. Characters often remark and joke about the insane situations they find themselves in. Now that is not to say that the film is perfect, in fact its got quite a few flaws and plot holes but they are all easy to overlook considering how much fun the rest of the film is. This new version is most definitely worth your time and money to see on the big screen, and make sure you stay through the end credits for a teaser of the new "Monsterverse"!
Trivia from IMDB for Kong: Skull Island:
Kong's design is inspired by a combination of King Kong (1933) and the Japanese adaptation in the 1960s. This allows the creative team to both utilize a look similar to the classic Kong, while drawing upon the exaggerated "kaiju" aspects, and powers, displayed by the Japanese adaptation, such as greatly exaggerated height, build, strength, and supernatural abilities. This will allow a more "even" confrontation with Godzilla, in the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong (2020).
Kong: Skull Island features the tallest incarnation of Kong in an American film, standing approximately 104 feet (31.6 meters) tall, while Peter Jackson's Kong was only 25 feet (7.6 meters) tall by comparison. The tallest incarnation of Kong overall is the one featured in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which stood approximately 147 feet (45 meters) tall.
John C. Reilly's character Marlow and Tom Hiddleston's character Conrad are likely references to Joseph Conrad and the lead character Marlow from Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. The novella, as well as the film it inspired, Apocalypse Now, are thematic and visual inspirations for Kong: Skull Island.