Spoiler- Kong: Skull Island perfectly sets up a Kong vs Godzilla showdown to take place in the future.  Just putting that out there right away.

In an age where Hollywood is constantly revisiting classic IP (intellectual properties) in an attempt to recapture the movie magic and spectacle, it comes as little wonder that King Kong got yet another reboot.  We can’t really call Skull Island a remake, because while it does follow the basic formula for a giant monster movie, the moving pieces are different.   Kong doesn’t leave the island, there isn’t a great sacrifice scene of the leading lady, and there isn’t a tangible love story.

That said, The film DOES deliver pretty much every single thing promised in the trailers from an Apocalypse Now homage with helicopters and the greatest Vietnam war film musical hits, to giant monster battles and special effects.

Here is the third trailer released for Kong: Skull Island-

Imagine how grouchy you’d be if some ’70s military dudes (led by Samuel L Jackson) show up in helicopters and start dropping bombs in your house.  You’d totally let them know to STOP IT and get the hell out, right?  Kong does that, smashing the flying troop transports like dried leaves in his hands.

Get outta my house, man
Get outta my house, man

What you have to remember about Kong is he’s not really a bad guy.  Much like how Godzilla is a protector of the realms of man, only showing up to defeat big creatures set on destruction, Kong is the keeper of the peace on Skull Island.  He is the tip top of the food chain, and spends his life (as we see it) fighting the lizards with no back legs from eating the native people and destroying the ecosystem.

Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson, Marvel Universe eat your heart out.
Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson, Marvel Universe eat your heart out.

So with the various surviving military folks  (also Tom Hiddleston the tracker and Brie Larson as Lois Lane but not really) scattered throughout the strange prehistoric island, the audience is introduced to the denizens of Skull Island.  We get giant spiders that walk through overgrown bamboo forests (probably my favorite on screen death we see in the film), the moss covered GIANT water buffalo, saw tooth bat bird things that rip men limb from limb, and a squid.

Eventually we meet John C. Reilly’s character, a WWII pilot who had been shot down over the island decades before, who has managed to survive and make friends with the human tribe who live in peace with Kong. (Cue the giant wall that blocks off their village from the onslaught of legless lizard things.)

One of the best Lois Lane performances this side of Margot Kidder.
One of the best Lois Lane performances this side of Margot Kidder.

If you’re expecting the quintessential Fay Wray beauty and the beast sacrifice, you’ll be super disappointed because this isn’t THAT kind of Kong movie. Sure, you’d think maybe Oscar winner Brie Larson’s character *might* do more than snap photos, but at least she’s not a damsel in distress. Refreshingly enough, this isn’t a love story centric film either.  In fact, there isn’t really anything you could put in that category.  Hiddleston and Larson don’t kiss (sorry Loki fans), and the secondary female character played by Tian Jing aren’t there to be rescued or protected, which is nice.

SCORE: 4 OUT OF 5, viewed in IMAX 3D, would totally see again!

Thankfully, Kong: Skull Island is NOT as drawn out as Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong, but it also doesn’t have the heart and charm of John Guillermin’s 1976 film (my personal favorite in the franchise history).

Samuel L. Jackson's troop of soldiers
Samuel L. Jackson’s troop of soldiers

The good:  The cgi rendering and creature designs are INCREDIBLE!  The action scenes, the island’s storm, the cinematography were exactly what a film in this genre needs and deserves.  You can practically feel the humidity as the soldiers slug through the swamplands with their full packs of gear.

The bad: The dialog is REALLY hit or miss.  You do get the sense of brotherhood from the platoon that goes on this “one last mission”, but the main players are poorly treated with their script. The humor could have been sharper, wittier, but I will add back some good for Jackson saying “Hold on to your butts” during the first firefight.

You REALLY can tell this film is a setup for the Godzilla-Kong fight, spending so much time and effort showing us that Kong hates lizards.  His entire giant ape family was killed by the subterranean dwellers on Skull Island, and the dialog doesn’t let us forget this.

Kong: Skull Island opens worldwide on Friday, March 10th 2017.

Check out Secrets of the Booze 21+ King Kong themed cocktail recipe!


ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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