Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson & Samuel L. Jackson
Synopsis: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.
Rating: 12A Duration: 118 minutes Release date: 9 March (UK)
As film fans we can be a peculiar bunch. We claim to want smart, evocative films that have brains as well as brawn, and we want to be entertained as well as connected to on some sort of intuitive level and will scream bloody murder when something “dumb” comes along and makes a shit load of money. And then we seem perfectly content to enjoy said “dumb” films when it suits us. Kong: Skull Island is one of those films. It’s certainly dumb, but my god is it a big pile of fun. Something we should be allowed to have every now and then.
What Kong does well is to be an unashamed daft film. The script is as weak as you would expect and some of the lines spoken by talented actors such as Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston would make anyone cringe and yet in Kong they feel like near high-art in how ridiculous it all sounds. John Goodman gets in on the act too; he mainly delivers story progressing lines that build the world we are living in, but Goodman is talented and savvy enough to know this. In conclusion, everyone involved knows how barmy this whole thing is and isn’t bothered in the slightest and neither should you be.
Set during the 70’s, somewhere around 1972-73 to be precise, Kong is placed shortly after the Americans have started to exit the Vietnam war. Plenty of political and anti-war imagery is dotted throughout the film and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has clearly took inspiration from Apocalypse Now and Platoon, with a smidge of Aliens thrown in. There is a clear anti-war message here, with one character even remarking that sometimes an enemy doesn’t exist until you go looking for one. It’s clear the director has a message he wants to deliver here, but he never lets it get in the way of a good action scene.
As far as giant-ape smack-downs go, Kong is pretty spectacular. Unlike Godzilla, which I also enjoyed by the way, we don’t have to wait a nearly an hour to see the films protagonist. After a brief introduction, there is roughly a 20 minute wait until we see Kong in all his glory. It’s a brilliant moment that arrives to the glorious wails of Black Sabbath and showcases the true might of Kong in fantastic fashion, and sets the tone for the rest of the film. There is a grand sense of scale here which works to show off Kong’s wondrous size and marks the human cast as truly insignificant in the wider scale of things. Whether Kong is killing helicopters, a giant octopus or some giant skull-crawler we are never far from another money-shot.
Those searching for a monster flick with brains should really be looking elsewhere, but then again what did you really expect here? Kong is a legitimately stupid film, characters do stupid things & act in completely irrational ways and the film takes some giant leaps in logic. It is not at all grounded in reality and never stops to take itself seriously. The characters are shallow and predictable, but it never gets in the way of what is a tremendously fun ride. There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever and just because a film is stupid doesn’t make it bad and nor should we deny ourselves the ability to enjoy it. Yes, smart, thoughtful films are nice but there is nothing wrong with wanting to see a giant ape go berserk for two hours.