A giant gorilla on top of the Empire State Building, holding a woman in one hand, batting off fighter planes with the other… Cinema just doesn’t get any more iconic than that, does it? The original King Kong is one of the most well-known monster movies around and so, on paper, a reboot of it should be awful. We live in an age of unnecessary and awful reboots – Fantastic Four, Blair Witch Project, Smurfs – and I was pretty certain that Kong: Skull Island was just gonna be another one.
And yet, somehow, the film so much better than it had any right to be. It’s actually pretty dang great. And the reason for it is simple: it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Too many big budget movies try too hard to be overly serious these days – Batman V Superman is probably the most obvious example – and as a result forget what they are. Nobody goes along to watch a film about a giant gorilla to see humans prattle on about their emotions for hours on end… No – people go to see a movie about a giant gorilla because they want to see a giant gorilla smash stuff up. And that’s what Kong: Skull Island gets right. It’s aware that its premise, a classic as it is, is goofy and kinda stupid and so the film just tries to be trashy in the best way possible.
We’re talking about a film where Samuel L. Jackson goes head-to-head with a goddamn giant gorilla, where Tom Hiddleston slices pterodactyls in half with a fricken katana, where a giant spider-monster wanders around impaling people on its legs… That’s the sort of film this is and it’s beautiful. Kong is filled with a number of incredible action sequences featuring King Kong as well as bunch of other weird monsters and is a lot of fun because of it.
There are human characters here too as well, but the film puts surprisingly little work into developing them. That might sound like a bad thing… But somehow it works. None of them really develop beyond their stereotypical roles – the badass British guy, the geeky scientist, the stubborn general – but I didn’t find myself minding too much. The actors have a lot of fun with their roles and the film makes in clear from the beginning that many of them only exist so they can be picked off one by one by the terrifying monsters living on Skull Island. I will say that there are a couple of characters that get a little too cheesy, such as one that continuously writes letters home to his family, but they don’t get enough screen-time for it to matter too much.
The other great thing about this film is its pacing. It’s packed to gills with exciting and interesting moments, meaning that my concentration didn’t lapse once throughout the whole thing. The film tries to get its characters to Skull Island as soon as possible – though the ‘crew recruiting’ segment before it is a lot of fun – and after that it tries to introduce the giant gorilla himself as soon as possible. There’s a steady stream of great action sequence throughout the movie, slowing building up to a final one that’s both ridiculously stupid and ridiculously awesome.
In terms of complaints about this film, I only have a couple… For one, King Kong himself seems to get forgotten about a little bit in the middle of the film – his great moments being at the beginning and the very end. Also the post-credits scene made me groan a little bit… Yeah, they’re trying to do the whole Marvel ‘shared universe’ thing with monsters. And to me personally, it just seems a little unnecessary and forced. Though I guess I’ll hold my judgement for now…
In short, if you’re looking for genuinely fun and exciting monster flick, then you can’t go wrong with Kong: Skull Island. Seriously, this film is great. It doesn’t try to match up to the all-to-iconic original – the Empire State Building moment doesn’t even take place – just trying to do its own thing instead. There’s nothing cooler than a giant gorilla beating up dinosaurs and this film definitely gets that.
I’m just going to chuck in a sly a link to my own blog – Incoherent Clarity. So if you enjoyed this review, be sure to check it out! I write reviews of albums and novels on a regular basis, as well as other stuff sometimes.