The King lives! Long live the King! King Kong is back; bigger and better than ever. And even though it’s heresy to say that the 1933 original could ever be surpassed, the new film, Kong: Skull Island, could very well be the “ape-x” of all monster movies – it is that good.
This film is a near perfect monster mash-up of the original King Kong film, Jurassic Park, the 2014 Godzilla redux, and Apocalypse Now (Ape-ocalypse Now, if you will); and it expands on the kaiju “monsterverse” world-building that began with the aforementioned Godzilla movie by director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Max Borenstein (who was also one of the scribes on this amazing effort.)
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer), this incredible film has something for everyone: humor, action, horror, romance, suspense, spectacular special effects, social commentary… And did I mention a hundred-foot tall super-ape with a major attitude? What’s not to like?
The story begins with an important prelude that takes place during World War II, an event that places fighter pilot Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) on the hidden Skull Island in the South Pacific Ocean, where he will play a pivotal role some thirty-odd years later.
We then jump to 1973, Richard Nixon is President and the Vietnam War has just ended. Scientists Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) convince the US government to locate and map a newly discovered island (with an infamous skull shape), before the Russians can find and claim it.
Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his team of grunts are enlisted to be military escorts on the mission, photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) tags along to document the expedition, and British mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) is hired as the team’s tracker. (Astute literary fans will catch the Heart of Darkness reference here.)
Pop culture fanatics will have blast keeping up with all of the Easter eggs contained in this film, and fans of the Apocalypse Now and the King Kong films (and books) will be especially pleased. Additionally, if you love rock music from the late-sixties and early-seventies, you will be in audio heaven.
Once we enter Skull Island it is full-on, edge-of-your-seat action, and the first encounter with Kong is one of the most intense pieces of film ever created. The wow and whoa factors here are easily at eleven and you will rarely have time to catch your breath going forward.
Kong: Skull Island is endlessly inventive and just when you think it might be veering into cliché territory it stomps that notion flat into the ground. Surprise after surprise will keep you on your toes, as if you are, indeed, part of this rag-tag team of survivors trying to make an escape.
I typically abhor 3D films, but I have to say with this one I highly recommend that you see it in IMAX 3D. It is worth every penny to see the big guy on the biggest screen possible (and there’s even a very cool new IMAX 3D countdown intro that is Kong related and very fun.)
Kong: Skull Island is action adventure at its best and this is easily the best film of 2017, thus far. This movie sets the new high bar for monster flicks and for every action film yet to come this year. You are highly likely to find yourself wanting to return to Skull Island, over and over and over. Grade: 9.5/10
- Ensure you stay through ALL the credits for an exciting post credit scene!
- Did you know you can see “Skull Island” on Google Maps? It’s true! Join the fun by clicking HERE!
Photos © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.