The latest reboot of King Kong flips the tired tale of Kong climbing the Empire State Building and meeting his demise. Instead thus movie is almost exclusively on the titular Skull Island. Set during the closing months of the Vietnam War, a “simple” expedition turns out when the mixture of scientists and military meet the titular Kong. But discovering that there are greater threats on the island than just the still growing 100 foot gorilla.
This really is a different type of King Kong movie. It plays much more like a mixture of Apocalypse Now and Moby Dick. Since this movie is set in 1974 and the waning days of the war, the soundtrack and clothes all evoke the time period. The lighting and cinematography during the jungle scenes also evoke the feeling of a war film instead of a monster movie. This is all to the credit of director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Instead of relying on just the usual trappings of a monster movie, he created a unique vision for the movie.
Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are the main cast with a great supporting cast of actors such as Corey Hawkins, Shea Wigham, Toby Kebbell and Jason Mitchell. All actors are serviceable in their roles. Jackson particularly plays the Captain Ahab-ish role of a man having a personal grudge against a beast who was just being a beast. John C. Reilly steals the show as a World War II pilot who crashed on the island thirty years ago. He is understandly eccentric and scatter brained but brings levity to the situation.
But this is Kong’s show. Unlike its compatriot, Godzilla (2014), we see Kong fairly early on and throughout the movie. Kong looks amazing. Simple as that. Closeups on the gorilla’s face show little details that you wouldn’t be able to see ten years ago. The Skull Crawlers and other monsters on the island are also wonders to watch. Credit goes to the visual arts team that worked on the film.
Is this a perfect film? No. The humans are a little two dimensional or cannon fodder. Tom Hiddleston while serving thr role well does not look like a man from the 70’s. But we all know the real reason as to why we come to see a film like this. It does not disappoint on that front.
How does this connect to 2014 Godzilla? It’s more subtle than most film franchises trying to establish a cinematic universe. Stay after the credits. You will be in for a treat.