Movie Review: Kong Reigns Supreme Once Again
There’s a reason he’s king. Back in 1933 the world was dazzled and awed by the cutting-edge special effects of the giant gorilla. 84 years later, (cinema is old) Kong did it again. Kong: Skull Island proves once again that advancements in special effects need to be tested on giant apes for adrenaline junkies. With these dynamic visual effects combined with a blessedly fresh take on the classic character, and a relatively pleasant low run-time, Kong gives exciting rejuvenation to the octogenarian.
When people first heard that another Kong movie was coming out they rolled their eyes and said “not another”. What they didn’t know at the time though is that this is not your grandfather’s Kong. The completely new take on the story is set during the Vietnam war. Two supposedly crackpot scientists (John Goodman and Corey Hawkins) convince the government that a Bermuda Triangle-esque island is worth exploring for research potential. They hire a famous tracker (Tom Hiddleston), are accompanied by a photojournalist (Brie Larson) and escorted by a platoon of soldiers lead by an Ahabian commander (Samuel L. Jackson). It doesn’t take them five minutes on the island before they run into Kong, a 125 foot gorilla who is more than a little irritated by their cavalier entrance. Kong isn’t the only threat on the island, though. They stumble upon a marooned WWII pilot (John C. Reilly) who shares his knowledge of the dangers of the island with the crew, who now have to figure out a way off of the island.
The results to writer John Gatins’ more colorful tale are two-fold. The first of which and most immediate result is that it gave the special effects crew something fantastic to do. King Kong (2005) was one of the most expensive movies ever made, and their special effects crew took over a year to digitally recreate 1933 New York. It looked impressive, sure, but when it comes down to it, it was an old-timey city. Kong: Skull Island was filled with nightmarish threats for Kong to battle with for the majority of the movie. Ocean-sized squid, hellish lizards, and more freakish beasts filled the screen with their mesmerizing terror making for an eye-gluing, thrilling experience.
The second result is even grander than the impressive visuals. By merely hinting at an origin history to Kong and the island, Gatins ever so gently pulls the audience towards a sequel. It hints to a much bigger story than the gargantuan gorilla, such that if they decided to continue it, it would feel natural and welcome as opposed to forced on us as so many sequels are. This was done on purpose. Back in 2014 it was announced that this movie would tie in with Godzilla (2014), and the well laid plot base of Skull Island makes the viewers hopeful for a well constructed story in a movie about two monsters fighting. The ingredients are all laid out for a cerebral, action-packed monster-mash, and if that doesn’t get you excited, you just might be dead inside.
Living up to its larger-than-life reputation for visuals and surpassing its reputation for plot, Kong gives this viewer hope for monster movies of the future. This one-two punch of visual effects and well-redeveloped characters makes this one of those movies that you’ll hate yourself for not seeing it in theaters. Only time will tell, but take my advice and see Kong: Skull Island now while it’s in theaters, not on your laptop when you’re desperately trying to catch up so you can go see what will probably be an amazing cross-over film with the King of Lizards.