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
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’
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