After Godzilla (2014) was released, it was announced that there were going to be 2 more Godzilla movies. In mid 2014, there were talks between Warner Bros and Universal about Kong getting rebooted the same way as Godzilla and there were rumors that WB were going to do a Godzilla vs. King Kong remake. Later that same year, they confirmed that the rematch is happening and they wanted to establish Kong in the same universe as Godzilla, which WB calls it "The Monster-verse" (it sounds stupid in my opinion). After months of keeping up with production and watching one preview after another for everybody on Youtube to analyze and theorize, KONG: SKULL ISLAND has finally arrived. So how did this movie turn out after waiting 2 years?
CAUTION: There will be spoilers...maybe...sort of...Perhaps a little bit. Whatever, spoiler are there. Read at your own risk.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND is one wild ride that has the right amount of action to hit that sweet spot where GODZILLA (2014) failed. There was so much going on that I found myself shouting, "OH DAMN!" a lot of the time. This is not your typical Kong movie where Kong falls in love with a girl and is killed on top of the Empire State Building. This movie is all about the action and the monster fights. It doesn't cut away from the action like GODZILLA (2014) did. If a fight is happening, then you are getting to watch that fight. No cutting away to a kid watching the fight on a TV or any of that nonsense. The fights are amazing to watch and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
The movie is about a platoon that were hired by John Goodman to survey Skull Island only to find out that the island is inhabited by giant monsters. It takes place in 1973, sometime during the Cold War and the end of the Vietnam War. The story is only okay, but it had me thinking back to the 1976 remake as well as little nods to 1962's King Kong vs Godzilla such as the fight between Kong and the giant octopus. There was one other scene where it looked like a scene from Predator when Samuel L. Jackson had his men setup a trap for Kong to get revenge for killing half his men during their first encounter. Replace Samuel L. Jackson with a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger and you may very well have remade the same exact scene from Predator. The way the movie ended seemed off at first, but then you see a scene where John C. Reilly's character goes home and meets his family for the first time in years during the credits, which I thought was heart warming. There is a post credit scene and I do recommend staying for that part. I know that people would rather not be spoiled on what that scene is, so I will probably update this part when it's the right time. For now, all I want to say is that it is a teaser for what is going to come next in this series.
The main characters are not very memorable, but they do the job that the plot needed them to do. When I saw that John C. Reilly was going to be in this movie I had doubts about his character since he mostly did comedy movies. Even though he had some moments that were suppose to be comedic, I am glad that he wasn't going to be the comedy relief through out the whole movie. Reilly's character is a World War 2 pilot that crashed on Skull Island and made friends with the natives. Even though he is the one that knows about the island more than most of the other characters, nobody ever listens to him when he tries to warn them of certain places that they need to avoid. He is more like the Dr. Serizawa of this movie in a way that he tells where Kong came from and that Kong is the only one that can maintain the island by not letting the Skull Crawlers (the big bad monsters of the movie) to run rampant. Tom Hiddleston though, if he tells you to hand him a katana hand him a katana and let him go to town with it because even though he uses it the way your not suppose to I don't think he missed one single bird that he sliced and diced. Brie Larson was only okay. Her character is an anti-war photographer that basically forced the US to abandon the Vietnam War. Her character does not do much and doesn't add anything to the movie. John Goodman was only okay as well, but he became useless after everybody crashed on Skull Island. It is a shame to waste a good actor just to play a character whose only role is to get to the main destination. Samuel L. Jackson did a good job playing as a colonel of his squad. His character is not a bad guy, but because Kong killed half of his men during the first encounter he becomes spiteful and feels nothing but hate towards Kong. You almost feel for him and that his hate for Kong is reasonable, but he also puts everybody else at risk.
This version of Kong is not like any other. This version of Kong is smart. When I say smart, I mean he does not rely on instinct like his predecessors. He really keeps himself aware of his environment and uses it to his advantage in clever ways. For instance, the scene where Kong was using a boat propeller to stab the giant Skull Crawler or using a tree as a bat were clever ways to fight back. Also, if you thought Kong's original finishing move, the jaw snapper, was brutal, the finishing move at the end of the final fight in this movie was more brutal than any other finishing move that has ever been seen in a monster flick. Even more brutal than Godzilla's "kiss of death" scene in the 2014 remake. Like his other versions, he does show a more compassionate side to him as well. Despite attacking the main characters, he does help them out. At least helping only the ones that didn't attack him anyways. The movie establishes Kong to only be an adolescent, which means that Kong is still growing despite how large he is. By the time 2020 comes, Kong is going to be quite the big guy. Right now, this version of Kong is the biggest King Kong in cinema history.
All in all, this was a fun monster flick. A whole lot better than GODZILLA (2014). I've seen people say that this is better than KING KONG (2005), but I disagree. KING KONG (2005) and KONG: SKULL ISLAND are two completely separate movies that should never be compared with each other. KONG: SKULL ISLAND is not going for any oscar, but to capture fans who love the giant monster genre and fans of action flicks in general. I would definitely recommend seeing this in IMAX, but avoid seeing it in 3D if you can.
This review concludes Kong-athon. Thank you for sticking around. Please stay tuned for future reviews and discussions on The Kaiju-ologist.