Kong: Skull Island

There is a clear message set out from the start that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wants an intense action film packed from the first minute to the last, with every nook filled with all out action and pure adventure.

Repeatedly, audiences are bombarded with themes and ideas, with each film feeling no different from the last. Horror is the worst genre for it but action films are not far behind. Overused and underdeveloped messages are churned out of the movie making machine with such ease. What makes Kong: Skull Island special is that it absolutely isn’t the same as anything else. It’s an original King Kong film.

It takes place on Skull Island. An unchartered land, sought after for years. Finally, there is the possibility of an expedition reaching the island with a break in the surrounding storm. William Randa (John Goodman) assembles his team of explorers including British tracking expert, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Mason Weaver (Brie Larsson), a self proclaimed anti-war photographer, and Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard’s (Samuel L. Jackson) army squadron, direct from Vietnam. Soon after landing, they uncover hidden secrets and mystical creatures. What they find there is not just incredible. It’s terrifying.

Kong: Skull Island is accomplished in the way it manages to expand upon a core overused idea. This is not just another King Kong film, this is more, it’s an expansion. It’s very creative with a plan, even if it doesn’t get everything right. There is a clear message set out from the start that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wants an intense action film packed from the first minute to the last, with every nook filled with all out action and pure adventure.

Kong: Skull Island is overloaded with a number of references to other films, often with a sense of adventure akin to Indiana Jones. At times it even feels like a missing seventh series of Lost. It has a certain mythical and outlandish feel that sets it aside from films similar in style. This is certainly no remake.

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There have been complaints that Kong is shown too early, but I couldn’t disagree more. There is nothing worse than endless buildup to an underwhelming reveal, and Kong sets a precedent with its straight to action style. It works well and needs to be used more often as a plot device in all styles of film.

At times it completely resembles a war film. Enhanced by its ties to Vietnam, there are very clear cut lines showing how the characters stand on their opinion of Kong, and this does drag out during the middle section of the film. The acting is to a good standard, but overuses its many characters where even more imagination with beasts and beings would have been a more vivid use of screen time. However, Brie Larsson particularly is a joy to watch as photographer Mason Weaver. The majority of the actors create a great sense of fearful wonder and despite the big names and the slow middle they rarely distract from Kong.

If the stupid moments are ignored and Kong: Skull Island is taken for what it has tried to do, and for most of what it is, it’s a hugely enjoyable adventure film with an absolute twist away from anything cinematic’s greatest gorilla has ever done before.

4/5

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