Kong: Skull Island (2017)

2017 #39
Jordan Vogt-Roberts | 118 mins | cinema | 2.35:1 | USA, China, Australia & Canada / English | 12A / PG-13

Kong: Skull Island

The king of the giant apes returned to the big screen this year as part of Legendary’s MonsterVerse, which will see him tussle with Godzilla in three years’ time. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

This new incarnation of Kong wisely dodges being a third remake of the original classic, opting for a new story of how mankind first comes across the eponymous island and its super-sized inhabitants. Set in the ’70s as the Vietnam war comes to an end, a mixed group of scientists and military men head for the uncharted island to see what lies within, and a monstrous battle for survival ensues.

Skull Island is a monster B-movie realised with a modern blockbuster budget and a dose of class from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Its major thrills come from the dust-ups between humans and giant beasties, or giant beasties and other giant beasties, but these are executed with a verve and enthusiasm that renders them a constant delight. Vogt-Roberts unleashes his skill with a palpable sense of excitement for the material, never seeming to hold back as he fills the entire movie with cool imagery and vibrant colours. The period setting is well evoked, bringing the sensation of witnessing a certain kind of non-specific throwback to adventure and monster movies past, even as lashings of expert CGI realise this new vision. (Also: two monkey movies this year and both with an Apocalypse Now vibe? Coincidencetastic.)

A skull, on the island

There’s a game cast, too, with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, and, in particular, John C. Reilly having a whale of a time as just some of our adventurers. Between them they help navigate a tone that could’ve been a jumble but instead feels just right, neither too pompous nor too comical. It’s never so grounded that the ridiculous stuff feels silly; never so silly that any of it stops mattering.

Kong: Skull Island might be the most fun I’ve had at the cinema so far this year. I can’t wait to watch it again on Blu-ray, and in 3D this time — I’m hoping that’ll really show off the scale of the big ol’ monsters. At the end of the day it’s a B-movie about giant monsters hitting things, which is what has held me back from giving it full marks, but don’t be surprised if this ends up on my year-end top ten: it’s superb blockbuster entertainment.

4 out of 5

Kong: Skull Island is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK today.

My review was a bit short to have more than one picture, but here’s a bonus one of Brie Larson being badass:

Badass Brie

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8 thoughts on “Kong: Skull Island (2017)

  1. Completely agree, what fun! Not too much forced emotional depth and just an effort to get to the big monsters as quickly as possible, which is no bad thing. What really impressed me were the effects – those creatures trading blows really did look like big creatures; they had real heft and weight. Very impressively done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The sense of scale for giant creatures / robots / whatever is something that seems to go awry these days (I never felt it in Pacific Rim, for example), but I agree that they really nailed it here. I think that’s probably a large part of what makes it so effective.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked this movie. We saw it in theaters, and then my husband pre-ordered it on Blu-ray. We watched it this past weekend at home. I had a lot of fun with it, except a few scenes make me close my eyes and my husband fast-forwarded – He’s not too keen on a lot of blood, it makes him sick. I’m really fascinated by the Vietnam time period for some reason and like different takes on the war, etc. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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