Reel Shorts | Kong: Skull Island

by Monica Hayes

King Kong, the Mighty Kong has been a monster staple for the past 84 years and ranks up there with Godzilla. There is something about a giant gorilla crushing his enemies, falling in love with a strange, light haired creature only to be captured, taken to a strange land and destroyed by its inhabitants that make us want more. That’s how the story usually goes right? Well, Kong: Skull Island is nothing like previous Kong movies, but lives up to its reputation.

In 1974, at the end of the Vietnam War, two scientist Bill Randa and Houston Brooks (John Goodman and Corey Hawkins) finally get permission to venture to the mysterious Skull Island recently discovered by earth mapping satellites. Randa calls Skull Island “the island that God didn’t finish creating.” Together with Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) an anti-war photographer, decommissioned British tracker, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a squad of reluctant helicopter pilots, led by Col Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Packard is a decorated, well known and respected war hero who is not ready to give up the fight, slowly goes bat shit in his pursuit of the infamous Kong.

Once they reach the Island, they began dropping seismic charges in an effort to map the terrain. Naturally, this doesn’t go over well with the current King of the land and all hell breaks loose. Trees are flying, paws are swinging and helicopters are going down in great balls of fire. As a result, the parties are separated and are trying to find each other so they can get to the rendezvous spot to be picked up.

The group led by Conrad stumble upon a village of indigenous people and meet Marlow (John C. Riley), a WWII pilot shot down on the island in 1944 who explains that Kong, who is the last of his kind, was protecting his home, and thanks their blasting, the Skullcrawlers – a giant freaky two-legged lizard- have emerged again. At the same time, Packard and his squad are on a “no man left behind”, search and “destroy that big ape” mission, run into some strange creatures of their own. This is when the fun starts.

Kong: Skull Island harkens back to the original 1933 King Kong where there were just a secluded pre-historic island and strange monsters. There was no trying to capture and bring him back for fame and fortune leading to the inevitable sad ending we have come to know. Speaking of monsters, the original cast is back, well some of them. The main antagonist, other than Col. Packard, are the giant two-legged lizards who have reemerged. It is up to Kong to exact some revenge of his own and restore balance back to the mysterious island.

Kong does what it was supposed to do: entertain. There are similarities to other King Kong movies. For example, Larson’s character mesmerizes Kong a la Jessica Lang and Naomi Watts in 1976 and 2005 movies, and the revengeful characters who want to kill him. It is also various scene similar to Predator (1987), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, (2013).

The story is very easy to follow. The special effects were great, especially in IMAX. There was nothing-extra special about the acting, except I think it is time for Samuel Jackson to reinvent himself. The angry, shouting, “do as I say not as I do”, “It’s my way or the highway” character has just about run its course. There was little Kong development. No mention of how he got that big etc. Although their characters didn’t interact, it was good to see Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton) back together for another movie. If you walk into Kong with the expectation of a Shakespearean type substance, you clearly have not seen any of the past movies. It is clear Kong is a prequel to another upcoming movie – stay for the post credits.

Grade: C+