Verdict: 4 / 5
Those who’ve watched giant-monster movies know that we shouldn’t always expect much from a storyline. In addition, these kinds of action films typically fall into two categories; one which uses the monsters sparingly, drawing in user anticipation for most of the film before the creature is revealed, while the other throws it in your face at every possible angle. Kong: Skull Island is the latter. And it’s better for it in my opinion.
If you’ve seen any Kong film, you’ve seen them all – in terms of the underlying story that is. A team gets a mandate to explore an island, some of whom are in the loop, others not. The team runs a into giant gorilla, and everything goes to the dogs after that. To put it simply: don’t watch Kong for hoping for a new story. You get the same formula and a list of obscure reasons why each person finds themselves on an island with the giant beasts.
The year is 1973 and the team of individuals that find themselves on the island include a World War II veteran, Hank Marlow, who crash-landed on the island 28 years prior, a deluded Special Forces colonel, a war photographer, a British SAS officer, and a few scientists who throw around some crazy theories and find funding to explore the island.
I didn’t care too much for any of the individual characters, apart from the WWII veteran played by John C. Reilly. His comedic approach is a relief to some of the other hit and miss jokes thrown in along the way.
I don’t often watch trailers. In fact, I try to avoid them at all costs. But given that there won’t be too many plot elements in anything to do with Kong that will be considered spoilers, I went all in from the start. The trailers didn’t shy away from hiding Kong or the plot. It treated viewers to exactly what they’d be going to experience.
But you don’t watch Kong: Skull Island, or any other giant-monster movie, for a great plot. We’re just here for the action, and Skull Island delivers on all accounts. The Kong reboot is very violent, more so than any previous releases in its history. The 13VL age restriction may be a little too light in my opinion, although I’m not one to judge.
What really stood out for me when watching Kong: Skull Island is how beautifully crafted the cinematography was. The backdrops and landscapes were breathtaking and provided an almost artsy feel, a throwback to pop art, even while Kong was violently tearing helicopters apart. Kong, and the rest of the monsters, were equally beautifully crafted and animated, and set a good tone throughout the movie, appearing very lifelike. One gripe I often have in giant-monster movies is their constant need to slow down their movement to indicate their size, but I don’t believe they should be any slower than normal-sized creatures just because they’re giants. Skull Island didn’t have any such issues, and this was a huge plus for me.
Some of my favourite scenes, however, did include some slower shots (with super slow-motion capture) of elements such as the blades rotating syncing beautifully with the score. Speaking of which, I enjoyed the music selection and sound effects from the film too. The typical Vietnam soundtrack plays well with the overall theme and added an element of engagement and excitement throughout.
There are quite a few political punches thrown in as well, as seems to be the norm in modern Hollywood blockbusters today. Some of the humour was unexpected and random. But almost as soon as the writers landed a joke, it was quickly taken away with another random, although not funny, comment which almost negated the previous line. This was particularly frustrating as you never really engage with anyone besides Marlow. I can’t imagine anyone watching Kong: Skull Island and not enjoying any of it. If you’re an action fanatic, watching a giant Ape slam dunk a helicopter or eat a giant squid like noodles should be enough reason to be sold. I came for action, I got action. And then some. Case closed. It delivers on its promises.
Kong: Skull Island is a must for IMAX.