Kong: Skull Island


10 March 2017| No Comments on Kong: Skull Island     by Sean Chavel



Way better than expected action smash up and creature feature romp. Kong: Skull Island is a totally rollicking entry set after the final days of the Vietnam War in 1973, and it has a blast in tweaking that era. Unveiled is a cast of paper-thin characters that are filled out quite colorfully by everyone: Tom Hiddleston as a mercenary named James Conrad (perhaps referencing the literary giant Joseph Conrad), Brie Larson as an antiwar photographer, Samuel L. Jackson as a shoot first military commander and John C. Reilly as a quack who has been stuck on Skull Island, fending off gigantic beasties while assimilating with indigenous tribal people (they equate Kong to God), since World War II. Then there is John Goodman as the man who spearheads the mission, whose first line is, “Mark my words, there’ll never be a more screwed up time in Washington!”

The mossy and swampy Skull Island is unchartered in 1973 because – of course – Google Maps hasn’t been invented. A flurry of military helicopters flies overhead, giving us a wide rim look at the entire island (great visuals!), and the movie wastes no time with springing upon us an immediate surprise attack by Kong. From there, it’s a commotion of predicaments and ego head-butts between survivors that keeps this adventure throttling forward. Much wit is provided especially by Reilly as a daft funnyman who is painfully out of date with his ideas of what’s going on in the real world.

I felt the taste of some gruesome violence here and there but I noticed that often the case the director Jordan Vogt-Roberts would deal with the worst deaths in discreet silhouette. One victim terribly has his limbs ripped off by terradactyl winged beasts, but cast against the sun, we see it all in black shadows. It is violent, but not too graphic.

Kong turns out to be not the worst beast of the island. That would be some kind of ruthlessly predatory raptor-lizard beast (it has no real classification). Meanwhile Larson takes important historical photos of all this island action with the kind of restraint one has when you only have a roll of twenty-four in the camera. Brushed in every other scene are some very tame flirtations between Larson and Hiddleston. The chemistry is there, and although we can’t take them too seriously, we like ’em. With Jackson going military gung-ho, insisting on offensive attack strategies, there’s not much time for romance anyway.

“Skull Island” doesn’t have the majesty and avante-garde beauty of 1933’s “King Kong” or the epic gloriousness of 2005’s “King Kong,” but this unpretentious entry is not looking for comparisons. It has its own slyness and idiosyncratic rambunctiousness. I prefer its’ kind of hamminess over the self-seriousness you feel in overbloated blockbusters. It’s not a movie you think much about a day later, but in the moment, “Skull Island” snap, crackles and pops.

118 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “King Kong” (1933); “Predator” (1987); “Jurassic Park” (1993); “King Kong” (2005).

Kong_Skull Island_FlickMinute-Post _2017-Release

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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