Is there really nobody else wondering why the female characters in a King Kong movie are so attracted to this giant ape? Honestly, I’m always asking myself the same question. Is it because Kong “King of all places he appears in” is such an impressive appearance, radiating power and protection? Or is it its primitive nature? No idea! But that monkey has good taste in my opinion. In every movie he’s looking full of desire at the lady in distress who crossed his path yet again. Now, these are always women who’ll drive that primitive monkey bananas (how appropriate). Also in Kong: Skull Island, the lady who’s being helped by the dreaded monkey looks breathtaking.
Kong: Skull Island contains a number of successful facets I was quite enthusiastic about. Personally I thought that the soundtrack was superb. The action scenes are really masterful at times. And Brie Larson walking around the whole movie in an undershirt, was a brilliant idea. Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances also wears it all the time, but isn’t really a treat for the eyes. But looking at Larson wearing such a piece of nothing, makes you forget there’s also a giant monkey on the island. The rest isn’t so impressive though. The story is quite superficial and simple. It merely serves as a steppingstone for an actionable monster story full of breathtaking graphic violence. Some ridiculous situations are of a laughable level and some scenes look as if they were copied from Apocalypse Now (a kind of homage apparently). Even on the helicopters you’ll see an identical sound system that spews deafening music from the 1970’s, as in the mentioned milestone.
Who cares? I don’t. There’s only one thing I expect when watching a new King Kong movie. An impressive and frightening creature. Certainly the moment he produces that famous primal roar. And to be honest, this is the first time I was wondering if it wasn’t a real primate. Because it looks so lifelike. If they had made an intellectually story full of meaningful dialogues and scientific gibberish, it probably wouldn’t be good either. Just compare the last Godzilla movie and this one. How many percent of screen time did Kong have in this picture compared to that other monster? In my view, it’s remarkably more. You don’t have to wait long for his appearance. After the entertaining second world war scene, with two rivals ending up on this cursed island (apparently there was no apocalyptic storm there at that time), you’ll soon see those penetrating eyes of the giant monkey.
It’s the sophisticated special effects that will cause you to quickly forget about the imperfections in the story. For example, the first confrontation between Kong and the impending battalion of combat helicopters was portrayed phenomenally. But on the other hand it was so obnoxiously stupid. They are witnessing how a giant monkey destroys one helicopter after the other. Smashing every single aircraft into millions of pieces. And yet, there’s no pilot who concludes that it might be better to send his heli into another direction. Away from the furious monster. Too much psychedelic music and hallucinogens during their tour in Vietnam might have something to do with it. When Brie Larson wants to lift a crashed heli just by herself so she could free a giant water buffalo, like a real animal activist, I almost choked in my popcorn.
You can call most of the human characters caricatures. But in a way, they fit perfectly in this movie. Especially Samuel L. Jackson who crosses the island looking for retaliation and who’s determined to kill Kong. The psychotic tirades of him with hollow expressions such as “This is one war, we’re not gonna loose“, sometimes seem pretty lame. But actually I enjoyed these silly rants. The same goes for John Goodman’s character. A so-called scientist who has set up this expedition for other reasons than he initially explained. And then there’s the Robinson Crusoe on duty, John C. Reilly, who has been on this island for years now and sees a possibility to escape from this hellhole (most funny personage). Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are actually the most normal characters. One of them rolling with his muscles as a professional tracker. The other displaying some other muscles as an anti-war photographer.
The rest of the cast is not that important eventually. They only serve as props and are being used as bait to the colorful collection of giant monsters. So expect a series of flying, sliced and crushed victims. But despite the thin story and the fact that human fellow actors only serve as decorative pieces, this monster film is a true spectacle. As a monster movie lover, you must admit that the battle between Kong and the giant octopus is nevertheless outstanding and fantastic enough to give you the heebie-jeebies. The teaser in the end predicts a sequel (Well, money still makes the world go round). It isn’t something I’m looking forward to. But the terrifying confrontation between those two opponents, Kong and Godzilla, could use a reboot. Apparently we have to wait for that until 2020. Bring it on, for all I care.
Kong: Skull Island is now available on your home entertainment platform of choice.
For more of Peter Pluymers’ movie reviews, check out Opinion as a Movie-Freak
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Glass Castle – home entertainment review
- Atomic Blonde – HE review
- Brawl in Cell Block 99 – home entertainment review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television