Wednesday, December 29, 2021

#2,684. Kong: Skull Island (2017) - Godzilla / Kong Mini-Marathon


On a scale of one to ten on the fun meter, Kong: Skull Island comes in at an eleven. A wild, special effects-laden monster adventure, this 2017 film is a thrill ride from start to finish.

It’s 1973, and the Vietnam War has come to an end. Bill Randa (John Goodman), head of Monarch, has secured permission from the United States government to explore an uncharted island in the South Pacific, a place known as Skull Island.

With the help of a military helicopter squadron commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Randa, his assistant Brooks (Corey Hawkins), hired guide James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) head to Skull Island to check out the terrain, and in the process piss off a giant ape named Kong, who attacks the convoy, destroying every aircraft and killing a number of Packard’s men.

Intent on revenge, Packard and his remaining soldiers, including Mills (Jason Mitchell), Cole (Shea Whigham), Slivko (Thomas Mann), and Chapman (Tony Kebble), head to one of the wrecked copters, which was carrying enough explosives to destroy Kong once and for all. But as they will soon discover, Kong isn’t the only giant monster on Skull Island!

Kong and the other creatures are the real draw, but director Jordan Vogt-Roberts also manages to populate Kong: Skull Island with plenty of interesting characters and a cast of talented actors to play them. Samuel L. Jackson is strong as the militaristic Packard, a career soldier who intends to kill Kong for what he did to his men, and Hiddleston, Larson, Goodman, Hawkins, Mitchell and Whigham are solid as the key components of the Monarch expedition.

Stealing the show, however, is John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow, a World War II-era pilot who has been stranded on Skull Island for 30 years (the film opens with the dogfight that destroyed not only Marlow’s plane, but that of the Japanese flier who shot him down. It’s at this point we’re also introduced to Kong). A bit loopy, Marlow has been cared for by the island’s indigenous tribe, and knows more about the dangers of Skull Island than anyone.

Not only that, but he and the Japanese pilot, who became good friends over the years, had been building a boat made of spare parts from their downed planes, which they hoped would one day carry them back to civilization. By the time the Monarch team arrives, however, the Japanese pilot is dead, the victim of one of the island’s more aggressive species: underground reptiles Marlow calls “Skull Crawlers”. Reilly is just about perfect in the part, and also serves as the film’s comic relief (with a bit of pathos thrown in for good measure).

Still, the best thing about Kong: Skull Island are the giant monsters, starting with Kong himself. In what is easily the highlight of the film, Kong attacks Packard’s convoy shortly after their arrival, throwing trees and swatting copters out of the sky with his bare hands. It’s a thrilling sequence, and features superior CGI (yet another of the movie’s strengths… the computer effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen).

Joining Kong are the Skull Crawlers, truly horrifying creatures with a voracious appetite; according to Marlow, it was the subterranean Skull Crawlers that killed Kong’s parents, making Kong the last of his kind as well as the Island’s protector (Kong ensures that the aggressive Skull Crawlers don’t become the dominant species, and the final battle between him and a giant Skull Crawler is damn thrilling). Throw in giant arachnids, oversized water buffalo, and some gnarly looking birds, and you have an ecosystem that can be more than a little hazardous to your health.

An exhilarating creature feature that also boasts strong characters and breathtaking special effects, Kong: Skull Island is an absolute blast!
Rating: 9 out of 10

1 comment:

Dell said...

So glad you love this one as much as I. This is easily my favorite of the new Monsterverse thing.