GEEK – The King is back, and he’s bigger than ever! Well, in physical size that is. Kong: Skull Island brings us the return of cinema’s most iconic ape in a way that we really haven’t seen before. In this latest outing the narrative of the original 1933 King Kong film, that was later remade in 1973 and then in 2005, is ditched for a Jurassic Park-meets-Apocalypse Now Vietnam-era survival horror adventure story.
This time, company man Bill Randa (John Goodman) and scientist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) piggyback on a geological expedition of the island representing Monarch, a company that specializes in seeking out massive unidentified terrestrial organisms with the help of a US Army escort led by Preston Packard (Nick Fury’s Samuel L. Jackson), James Conrad – a tracker played by Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Mason Weaver–a wartime photographer Brie Larsen (a future Carol Danvers). Their expedition expectedly goes horribly wrong immediately and most of the survivors fight to get off the island, while a select few decide they want to destroy Kong. It’s a simple enough premise, but leaves a lot of room for some pretty satisfying monster encounters.
If 2014’s Godzilla was supposed to be a slow orchestrated build that led to a symphonic climax, Kong: Skull Island is its big budget, spiritual B-movie, rock n’ roll brother. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts isn’t afraid to immediately lay on some Sam Raimi-esque camp with his approach to visually telling the story. The way some of the monster attack sequences play out have a entertaining kinetic appeal to them. The stylization of the film also heavily contrasts modern day blockbuster sensibilities. The colors are bright and vivid and the diegetic music adds some personality to the characters.
The song choices are pretty much run of the mill 70s, Vietnam War standards, but they pepper the movie with bursts of energy. The film really earns the bulk of its charm in its portrayal of the larger than life creature characters. Not only does the action take place in stable wide shots with fewer cuts than normal, but Vogt-Roberts’ aesthetic choices on where to plant the camera make for some thrilling visual beats. If only that inclination to go for the more creative choice was applied to the main characters themselves, but I’ll let the Divine One himself tell you about that…
3.5/5 Skulls Bibles.