Kong: Skull Island – On a scientific mission of discovery, a small group of scientists and soldiers fly in to chart an unexplored island. But when they start dropping explosive ‘measuring’ equipment, they awaken the wrath of a monstrously huge ape: Kong. With their air transport broken, and the island teeming with giant vicious beasts, will they be able to escape? And will the mighty Kong become a vital ally, or destructive foe?

Kong: Skull Island (2017) – Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Kong: Skull Island poster for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 118 mins

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson

Genre: Action, Science Fiction

‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’ REVIEW

2014’s ‘Godzilla‘ injected the schlocky b-movie fun back into the monster genre and Kong follows hot on its heels. Gone is the ponderously over-long and earnest approach of Peter Jackson’s 2005 version. Instead we have a movie that hits all the classic b-movie staples: a rag-tag bunch of characters, eye-popping monsters, and all hell breaking loose. Set against a 1973 backdrop – with the Vietnam war ending and the clanging anti-war soundtrack at it’s most iconic – ‘Kong: Skull Island’ has all the gleeful directorial touches needed to keep the viewer with a huge smile on their face.

One notable failing of the 2014 Godzilla was that – whilst the monster parts were expertly paced and delivered – the central characters were mostly dull as dishwater. This time around we are thrown with so many characters that it isn’t long before you make a mental checklist of the order of their upcoming demise! Whilst the downside is that most characters are paper-thin, it also means that there are least some lively personalities to keep the non-monster parts moving. Special praise must be laid at the feet of John C. Reilly here. As a World War II marooned fighter pilot, the depth of his (unseen) forged friendship with his fellow crashed Japanese adversary is hugely touching. Similarly, Samuel L. Jackson’s morose Colonel who finds renewed focus in the supernatural ‘enemy’ Kong represents has a reliable amount of swivel-eyed crazy.

Oddly, the most disappointing character is ex-SAS Army man, Conrad, played confusingly deadpan by Hiddleston. Hiddleston’s utter lack of expression in the fact of humongous mega-beasts breaks the awe, somewhat. Hiddleston can act with depth and emotion and one can’t help but feel he just didn’t engage with this film at all. Nonetheless, the sheer amount of gusto given to the plethora of giant creatures as they go thumping about Skull Island (and attacking our troop of dwindling survivors) never fails to engage the eye. And, Hiddleston aside, most of the characters connect enough that we do care about their desperate trek for rescue. That, coupled with a final scene that promises a Godzilla crossover (due in 2020), means that Kong: Skull Island and the franchise being built around the famous mega-monsters is more fun that it has any right to be.

IS ‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

In the showing that we saw – there was a trailer for the upcoming ‘Life’ movie. This is a sci-fi horror and the trailer is very ominous with some jump scares. Also there was a trailer for ‘Colossal’ which is a comedy but has a moment where a character nearly swears but is cut off by the edit’

Two characters crash their fighter plans and attack each other. They fight in a jungle. One draws a sword and tries to stab the other. The defending character ‘catches’ the blade between his palms. The attacker then pushes the blade closer which slices the other man’s hands. We don’t see the injury detail but it is a wince worthy moment and blood is shown to pour down the man’s hands.
Two characters go looking for an ex-SAS man to recruit to their cause. They find him in a dive bar which has several scantily clad woman dancing and smiling in suggestive ways. It is implied that these woman could have their affections purchased.
The first introduction of Kong is a very exciting scene with lots of sustained action. The scene lasts for around 10 minutes and involves Kong destroying several helicopters in a variety of means. Some explode. Some crash. Some crew members fall to their implied deaths. Others fall directly into Kong’s mouth and are eaten. The eating is not graphic (it cuts to a character eating a sandwich at the vital moment) but there are sustained shots of terrified people plummeting into his open jaws, shot from above. One person is thrown in the air and hits a helicopter’s windscreen. We see this from the point of view of inside the cockpit. The man then rolls over the top of the screen and is presumably sliced to death by the helicopter blades and blood splatter is seen. Other people are squashed underfoot. A slow-mo shot of terrified people being shaken out of a helicopter lasts 10 – 20 seconds. There is cursing throughout this scene and one character exclaims ‘son of a bitch!’.
When walking through a forest, one character looks up and is impaled through the mouth. A long ‘stalk’, the thickness and length of bamboo, is stabbed down his throat. We see him stuck and gagging from the front with the ‘stalk’ all the way through him. It is then yanked up hard and he is thrown off camera. The soldiers are attacked by a giant spider. It towers over them around 4 times bigger than elephant size. If your child is scared of spiders we would recommend caution at this part!
Kong rests in a lake. He looks confused for a moment and then plunges his hands into the water. There is a short battle with a giant octopus which he then eats live. Tentacles wrap around his face as he chews.
On the island there are giant pterodactyl-type birds. One is shown to be shot in the head by a sniper and the head explodes in a cloud of blue blood. Later, a giant ox is trapped under a crashed helicopter. It whines in pain and distress and a character tries to help it.
There is a jump scare with a character sitting on a large log which turns out not to be a log! This is followed by the character hearing something behind him and, when he turns, the camera cuts to a ground shot showing a large amount of blood splatter.
The ‘antagonists’ for the second half of the movie are giant lizards referred to as ‘skull crawlers’. They are (obviously) huge but are also intelligent and hunt out prey to kill. When they are introduced en masse one heaves and vomits. It regurgitates a human skull with dog tags to show that it was a previously sympathetic character. During the scene the characters are all hiding and battling in a graveyard full of massive bones, skulls and ribcages. A camera with a slowly repeating flash bulb gets stock on one their necks. The graveyard is misty so the skull crawlers can’t be seen but the constantly flashing bulb slowly moves around creating a very tense and ominous scene.
A scene uses napalm as a trap. This gets thrown over some soldiers at one point and they scream, burning. This isn’t lingered upon.
One established character triggers two grenades whilst holding a bushel of more. He later explodes in the background.
The final battle with Kong and ‘the big one’ skull crawler is very viscous. It culminates in a tongue being pulled out followed by lots of bloody guts.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT – IS ‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’ FOR KIDS?

‘Kong: Skull Island’ carries on the excellent standard set by ‘Godzilla‘ by doing proper justice to the long gone classic b-movies. A superb soundtrack, stylised shots that ooze cool comfort with the genre, and excellent pacing between creature moments and human interest. Kong: Skull Island is a fantastically fun movie. However, with the large amount of casual bad language, horror elements, constant death and bloody violence throughout we would say that this movie is not suitable for children under 12.

  • Violence:  4/5 (most violence is between creatures and the human characters and results in bloody death, but there is little violence between human characters)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (a lot of characters spend a lot of time in fear)
  • Fear Factor: 4/5 (large scary creatures constantly attack)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 5/5 (frequent throughout, including several instances of ‘son of a bitch’ and casual moderate cursing. There is one strong usage and one other strong usage cut off half way through)
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (some threatening language. One character says ‘i’m going to stab you before the end of the night’ and it isn’t clear if they are joking)
  • Other Notes: contains themes of war, fear of the unknown, blind faith in superiors, needing an enemy to fight, making friends in adversity, being marooned, not tampering with nature, and cold war fear.

Words by Mike Record

 

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