Kong: Skull Island is the latest reboot in the King Kong franchise, with the first film debuting in 1933. The franchise centers around a massive gorilla named “King Kong,” who is sometimes portrayed as a monster, and at other times a tragic antihero. He is undoubtedly one of the most iconic characters, as the gorilla has appeared in various cartoons, comics, video games, and other media.
The reboot hit theaters on March 10, 2017, with Jordan Vogt-Roberts as the director, and the star-studded cast of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and others.
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.
The film starts in 1944, during World War II, as two pilots, an American named Hank Marlow and a Japanese named Gunpei Ikari, parachute onto an island. The two engage in a fight, but stop suddenly as a massive gorilla appears before them, causing them to flee.
Flash forward to 1973, and government official William Randa (Goodman) recruits a team of war veterans and scientists to explore the uncharted “Skull Island.”
The scene of the crew arriving on the island starts very light hearted, as they cruise around the island in helicopters with music on full blast. Photographer Mason Weaver (Larson) is taking pictures of the beautiful scenery, while the soldiers are releasing explosives onto the ground to determine if the ground is hollow. The scene suddenly takes a twist as Kong throws a giant palm tree into one of the helicopters, killing the crew inside. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Jackson) orders his men to attack Kong, but the giant gorilla fights back and kills most of his crew.
After the encounter, the characters are then split into two groups. The first crew is lead by survival expert James Conrad (Hiddleston) and the second by Preston Packard (Jackson).
While heading to the north end of the island, Hiddleston and Larson’s characters meet Hank Marlow (Reilly) and learn that he has been stranded since World War II. Reilly adds humor to each scene he’s in, as his character talks about what he’s missed while he’s been stranded on the island, such as putting the first man on the moon.
Along with him, they also meet a group of indigenous people to the island, who look at Kong as their God, since he protects them from the real threat of the island: the Skullcrawlers.
The viewers quickly learn that Kong is not the only large animal on the island, as large spiders, lizards, and birds appear throughout the film, killing some members of the team. The scenes are gory and intense, as one can expect from a Kong movie.
Weaver and Conrad soon learn about Kong’s true nature, as they witness him showing compassion for other animals. They realize that if he is left alone, Kong will not hurt anyone. He only killed Packard’s team because they invaded his territory and attacked him.
Although it appears that Conrad and Weaver are no longer viewing Kong as a threat, Packard is determined to put an end to Kong for killing his men.
The theme of the film comes to fruition, as it is no longer man vs. beast, but man vs. man, as Conrad and Packard argue about whether to kill Kong, or leave him in peace.
Samuel L. Jackson puts on an amazing performance as Packard, who represents the true enemy: man, because he is trying to mess with nature. He is persistent in killing Kong, despite that he is seen as the protector of the island by the native people. All he can think about is revenge, and does not care about the consequences.
Here are our thoughts on what did and didn’t work in the film.
WHAT WORKED: The visuals in the film are stunning, specifically when Kong first makes his appearance, Hiddleston’s scene in the toxic gas, and the fight between Packard and Kong towards the end of the film. Having Kong NOT be the only large animal on the island was a smart move, as it put a spin to the original Kong storyline.
We loved also how the film made us gradually develop an emotional attachment to Kong, as we see him show compassion several times throughout the film. The action scenes involving Kong vs. the Skullcrawlers were also intense, and had us cheering for Kong to win.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: We wanted to see more of Hiddleston! He is a brilliant actor, and we would have loved to see him have more dialogue or screen time.
OUR FINAL VERDICT?
Ultimately, we give Kong: Skull Island a 4/5 for its brilliant actors, stunning images, and intense action sequences. We definitely can’t wait for the next installment, and if you stayed past the credits, then you know what we’re talking about.
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