<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, John C. Reilly
Running time: 2 hours
While I loved what they did with the new Godzilla film, my reaction to Kong: Skull Island isn’t as immense.
Why we have to keep going back to the beginning instead of moving forward I will never understand. But, here is yet another remake of countless remakes of the moutain-sized primate called Kong, king of the mysterious Skull Island where plenty of other MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) roam, kept in check by the lonely ‘monster’.
The time period is during the Cold War and Bill Randa (John Goodman), part of the Monarch Group, wants to mount an expedition to the island. Of course, they need a military escort, just in case. Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) was quite enjoying the Vietnam War, but when America pulls out of it due to mounting protests, he is left wondering who he can fight next. So he jumps at the chance to lead his young men to Skull Island, where he finds himself a new ‘enemy’.
Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), an ex-Brit special forces guy and Weaver (Brie Larson), and ‘anti-war’ photo journalist accompany the mission and soon realise that Packard’s war isn’t what they want and in the process of fleeing the island they try to help weary Kong in his battle.
There’s plenty of action in Kong: Skull Island and it has a very military film look and feel about it. They’ve junked emotion and any real connection between the beast and the beauty for lots of gory dismemberment. And while they vaguely touch upon the mystery of the island, it is never fully explored, which is a shame. I was waiting for something to surprise me, to give me something different from what I’d already seen in previous Kong films.
What saves the film’s rather monotonous plot is one actor: Samuel L. Jackson. His strong persona and singular finesse in doling out insults drives the movie forward wonderfully. You understand his motivation, you can see the anger in his eyes, you hate him for his misplaced angst, but can’t help cheering him on when he calls Weaver a ‘bitch’ after her particularly cliched line: “The world is bigger than this”!
Hiddleston is could have been replaced with any other actor and I wish he would have been.
Kong: Skull Island is an efficient and gritty remake that has action but loses out on an opportunity to wow you or give you anything different. I was so hoping Godzilla would rise up out of the water at any moment. A Kong v/s Godzilla film would be gigantic!
PS: There is of course a message in there about humanity not intruding into nature and other species’ habitats. This is especially poignant in light of the news about ‘poachers’ breaking into a zoo in Paris, killing a rhino and taking its horn. If only King Kong were real…