Synopsis : Kong : Skull Island is a reboot of the classic King Kong tale and the second film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse.
Review : I hadn’t seen the trailers for this film before watching it. The only things I knew were that it starred Tom Hiddleston (Avengers, The Night Manager) and that it was a King Kong film. So I was largely blank.
The film is set in 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. A govt scientist, William Randa (John Goodman) wants to take an expedition to an island in the Pacific that isn’t on the world map but has now come up on satellite images. It is more mysterious than even the Bermuda triangle in that no plane has ever returned from there.
Cue the team assembly.
Goodman goes to assemble a team. For that, he goes all the way to Vietnam and Thailand, where our two leads are – James Conrad (Mr. Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). The team also gets the services of an Army team led by Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson).
Cue the action.
What I found good about the movie was its cinematography, its editing and the climactic fight, a peek of which has been provided in the trailer. Hawaii and Australia have been used as stand-ins for Skull Island and their gorgeous scenery has been excellently captured by the cinematographer, Mr. Larry Fong. A landscape shot taken from above the helicopters, in slow-motion, is the icing on the cake. The editing is slick, making the film fast-paced. This ensures that there is barely any letting up on the action once it begins.
We are shown Kong in a prologue at the start but when he finally makes an entry to smash the helicopters ravaging his realm, the action is something to behold. Choppers being flung at each other and the pure rage of the Gorilla gets the adrenaline going. After that set-piece, we are introduced to the other secrets of the island. There are other animals that are also super-sized like Kong. So, separate set-pieces show – among others – a giant spider and a giant octopus. We are made aware of the reason behind the film not being called just Kong or King Kong. There is a lot more to be discovered than merely him. And yes, almost all the action sequences have been extremely well-choreographed, in addition to the CGI that must have gone into making them.
The cons of the film are the ones we usually have with summer tentpoles. It has been almost half a decade since the summer slots were expanded to include March releases (with Iron Man 3 I guess). And most of these movies don’t try spending too much time on the characters or making the film feel new. So we have clichéd characters all around – the good-at-heart heroes, the mad scientist, the warmonger army general, the all-knowing veteran and, last and also the least, the non-whites among the supporting cast who aren’t meant to do anything substantial (except maybe dying). The old theme of Nature vs Man is exploited yet again. Beyond the CGI action and the fight at the end (which reminded me of 2014’s Godzilla), there is not one thing that I would take away from this film. The sad reality is that the makers aren’t even asking us to take their movie at anything more than face value. Their only concern is having enough bums on the seats to be financially able to go ahead with the other movies in the shared cinematic (Monster) universe that they are building. And more’s the pity.
I kind of find it strange (and you have a right to disagree with me if you like) that even in this day and age, all the lead roles in a film as big as this go to the white actors (expect for Samuel L. Jackson). The obligatory coloured people in this film are those who don’t make any impact. And since we have the Chinese co-financing it, we have a Chinese actress (Jing Tian) in the cast too. Her job? Listening to Corey Hawkins (Dre from Straight Outta Compton) explaining things to the audience. There is a Latino guy (John Ortiz) whose role is totally superfluous. I wonder what these guys thought they were doing.
The preceding paragraph, though, shouldn’t distract from the main successes and failures of the film. It would, in my opinion, make more-than-decent money. But you wouldn’t be missing a masterpiece if you gave it a pass, and that’s despite all the adrenaline-pounding action.
Verdict : Kong : Skull Island is a movie for action fans that doesn’t ask, or want, you to think and analyse. Global warming is real. Summer has arrived early.
Viewing Guide : No nudity, cussing or gore in the film. The whole family can have a watch here.
Genre : Action, Monster.
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐
Have you watched Kong : Skull Island? How do you think it is? Did this review measure up to your appraisal? Please tell me in the comments section.
Thanks for reading.