Name:

Kong: Skull Island

Budget:

185 Million USD approx

Studio:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Tencent Pictures

Genre:

Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Release Date:

9th March, 2017

Run Time:

118 minutes

Director

Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Product Rating:

BBFC (UK): 12A

MPAA (USA): PG-13

Reviewer:

Sarcastic Bulldog

Review Score:

68/100 (68%)

Disclosure:

 

 

 

Part reboot, part Apocalypse Now homage, part Land That Time Forgot and what do you get? Well, you get Kong: Skull Island, an interesting take on the classic monster movies of yesteryear while taking on more contemporary themes of politics and exploring the worst of humanity while having giant overblown CGI action set pieces with monsters in tow.

 

Skull Island opens with a flashback in 1944, an American pilot (John C.Riley) and Japanese pilot both crash land on Skull Island. Both survive and pursue each other in a duel to the death. However, both are interrupted by the king of the island; Kong. Opening titles and we are thrust forward twenty-nine years to 1973 where Bill Randa (John Goodman) hires ex-British special air service operative Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a skilled tracker who guides an expedition to Skull Island to explore its many possible scientific wonders. Also joining along for the expedition is a military convoy lead by Lt.Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) a no-nonsense hard-edged war veteran. The crew get to Skull Island and drop bombs or ‘scientific instruments’ as one scientist put it. Unleashing these bombs gets the attention of the big ape. Understandably Kong doesn’t take too kindly to this and demonstrates why he is king of the island by putting a beat down on the explorers and crashing all of the helicopters.

 

 

 

The crew that survived is stranded and must survive this harsh and very cruel environment. The survivors regroup and come across the local tribes lead by John C.Riley character from the beginning flashback. He helps the survivors to work out an escape plan. However, Colonel Packard has other ideas. He plans to take out Kong as revenge for the death of his military comrades, but this is compromised by a new threat in the form of monsters called ‘skull crawlers’. This all leads to a final act consisting of overblown CGI monster fights and our plucky good guys fighting for survival in the chaos and inevitably making an attempt to escape from the island.

 

 

The film certainly sets up good political satire, which didn’t feel tacked on like it so easily could have been. Comedy elements while at times cringe did work, particularly in the context of the political playfulness woven throughout the story. With lines such as “there’s never been a more messed up time in Washington” (certainly fitting of our modern political times) or John C.Riley character asking “did we win the war” and being replied with “which one?” these did give me a few chuckles. The editing and pace of the film are certainly better than most typical Hollywood fair nowadays. There is a lot of action shot from a distance which gives a better sense of space and a less claustrophobic feel. Thus enabling you to take in what is going on a bit easier. This is unlike for example a classic Michael Bay film in which all of the close in and all shaky cam action nonsense is extremely overdone and annoying. CGI wise the film does the job, Kong looks spectacular at times with incredible attention to detail on every hair of the big ape looking particularly amazing. However, the ‘skull crawlers’ are somewhat less impressive with a very generic design and very fake, out of place looks to them.

 

 

Overall Skull Island is a generic monster movie with typical overblown CGI but with an excellent cast that can keep your attention and carry the film. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts managed to put his fingerprint all over the film with an interesting mix of political satire/comedy blended with well shot exciting action set pieces. There is still that feeling of compromise within the film which impacts on the experience. This is in part I feel is due to this being a massive Hollywood franchise with its overblown budget with even bigger expectations from the studios. No doubt many people interfering with the director's vision as some elements appear a bit mix mashed. The director does a great job of giving a bland, generic monster movie, a bit of flair and style which is the saving grace of the film. An enjoyable ride on the surface that rises above it generic premise just about enough to make it worthwhile but never does quite enough to blow you away either. A top tier cast, great action and good direction, yet just above average in overall execution. Worth at least a watch and maybe a buy on DVD or Blu-ray if you are inclined to see what is a well-done retake on the monster genre if far from perfect. Based on my experience watching this film in cinema I would rate this at 68/100.

 

 

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