Tell me this doesn’t sound like the ultimate Marvel movie: Loki, Nick Fury, and Captain Marvel go off to fight King Kong. Come on…that would be quite badass.
We don’t get that in Kong: Skull Island but we do get Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson going off to Skull Island and running into King Kong…who is like a million stories high and pretty bad ass. He is the protector of Skull Island. What is he protecting the island against? Well that’s all part of the fun.
As a kid growing up back before we had cable TV there wasn’t much to watch on a Saturday afternoon. It was usually bowling, kung fu flicks, or Godzilla movies. I didn’t mind watching any of them so I generally just watched whatever crap was on. I had an appreciation for the bad Godzilla movie. Sure it looks silly but it was fun. I liked the ugly, fake looking monster trying to beat up Godzilla. And King Kong? When I saw the 1933 somewhere in the late 80’s I was pretty floored. That movie was just magnificent. I couldn’t believe what they were able to pull of with the limited technology they had back then. The movie made quite an impact.
In 1998 Roland Emmerich rebooted Godzilla for American audiences by basically have Godzilla be an ugly dinosaur that wasn’t too menacing. Throw in Matthew Broderick as our hero and…the film was pretty awful. (The soundtrack? New music from Ben Folds Five, Rage Against The Machine, The Wallflowers, and JAMIROQUAI! Pretty much the best part of that movie).
In 2005 Peter Jackson remade King Kong. The film was 647 hours long. It had Adrien Brody so that was cool. And Colin Hanks. But it also had Jack Black. In a King Kong movie. It was about 70 years later after the original King Kong flick and Peter Jackson’s film could not hold a candle to it. Some people really like this film but I was pretty much bored to tears.
In 2014 another American Godzilla movie was made – this one by director Gareth Edwards who had made a pretty decent low budget monster flick simply titled…Monsters. This one also kicked off a shared monster universe titled MonsterVerse. In this movie Godzilla is released to take on the world and we…don’t see Godzilla. It is basically a Godzilla movie with no Godzilla where Bryan Cranston dies way too early and we are stuck watching Aaron Taylor-Johnson for most of the film. People liked this movie as well but me? I mean…come on. When I watched those Godzilla movies as a kid at least we got to see Godzilla out there kicking ass. I didn’t care that it was just some guy in a rubber suit. It was Godzilla! This Godzilla…had no Godzilla!
I’ll briefly mention Pacific Rim which was a robot versus monster movie…but I didn’t like that either. My wife likes it. At least it had Charlie Day. I’m not going to talk more about it.
This brings us back around to Kong: Skull Island. This is the second movie of the “MonsterVerse” and I really didn’t care about the film one bit prior to the release. The trailers didn’t impress me and I truly had no plans on seeing it. But then I was bored, there was nothing else released this week, so I went to see it. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. For the first time I was actually impressed by a giant monster film. I thought it was entertaining. I had a great time. Everything worked for this film from the cast, to the SFX, to the directing. Script-wise? There’s not much there. You don’t need it to be the best script ever written. The film gets the job accomplished and tells a good story visually.
Hiddleston plays Nathan Drake. No, seriously…he looks like Nathan Drake. Everyone talks about, “Wow, Hiddleston could play the next Bond!” And I bet he could. But he could also star in an Uncharted. In Kong Hiddleston actually plays Conrad, a former British military guy who now works as a tracker. What does he track? I dunno…King Kong I guess. But basically he’s Nathan Drake but without the wise-cracking, the smiling, and the swarmy attitude. Basically if you combine Loki with Conrad you get Nathan Drake. Okay…I’m stuck on Uncharted. But producers take note…this guy is your leading man…as long as he can pull of the American accent.
So…beyond that…John Goodman plays a guy who works for an agency called Monarch. He believes that something is on this Skull Island so he hires Conrad, gets some Army guys (led by Samuel L. Jackson), and make their way to this island . Once there…there’s Kong. Kong ends up laying waste to the Army guys and the group find themselves stuck on this island. The only way out? A rendezvous point in a few days.
It’s a monster movie. Is Kong the bad guy? Are there other creatures on this island who are the bad guy? What can they do? Kill Kong? Run away from Kong? How do they bring back proof that Kong exists?
Well…luckily Brie Larson is there as a character I’ll call War Photographer Woman or WPM for short. WPM is super pretty and has survived multiple photo shoots in Vietnam. She comes along on this trip and no matter what happens…she is always there snapping shots with her camera. Lucky for the group that she doesn’t die. And lucky for the viewer as well. Why? Well – look – Brie Larson is an Academy Award winning actress. The woman can act. She is also beautiful. And even though she is running for her life covered in mud away from silly CGI creatures she still looks beautiful. The producers can thank their lucky stars they cast her in this.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Colonel Samuel L. Jackson. If you’ve seen any Samuel L. Jackson movie in the past ten years you know the character I’m talking about. He plays that guy. Himself. Whatever.
What I did really, really, really, really love about this film is that it reunited John Ortiz and Shea Whigham!!!!!! Wasn’t it great seeing them together in a movie again?!?!?! Have no clue who I’m talking about? Then you are obviously not Fast and the Furious fans. Ortiz played Braga – the baddie in Fast 4 – the same movie where Shea played an FBI agent. They came back for Fast 6. And now? Now they are in the shit on Skull Island together! Fantastic!
What I hated about Godzilla was that you didn’t see Godzilla. I’ve established that point. But here you see Kong. You see him right from the beginning. You see him a lot. You also “buy” him as this huge massive monkey kicking ass. I lost myself in the movie. This is important – the ability to just suspend disbelief, turn off the brain, and just have fun.
The movie is set in the 1970’s and they used a whole bunch of UH-1H helicopters. Hueys are awesome. I hate flying but when I was in the Army there was nothing better than getting in a Huey, NOT closing the doors, and going off for a ride. Well…except maybe doing the same thing in a Blackhawk. Either way. Pretty cool.
So if you dig these big monster movies this one is for you. As stated I normally don’t enjoy these things. But good CGI, Hueys, Uncharted, Fast and the Furious, and Nick Fury all in one movie did it for me. And I’m quite glad about that. I was ready to rip the movie apart – so I’m glad I had a good time.
P.S. – I forgot…John C. Reilly is in this thing too. In the trailers they make him into this goofy character just there for laughs. While he was goofy…I actually enjoyed his character and that didn’t ruin the film. Which is good. Comic relief characters can be a bit trying.