Kong: Skull Island Reviewed by Joseph Hoshino

The Premise
A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

The Review
Growing up as a fan of Peter Jackson’s 2005 film King Kong, I was very interested when I first heard about this reboot of the franchise. Learning about who was starring in it, what was being done with Kong himself (particularly by making him bigger) and how it would connect to 2014’s Godzilla in Legendary’s MonsterVerse had me hyping this release. When watching a reboot, it’s easy overthink what we remember from an earlier film such as the 2005 or even the 1933 version and compare them to the new. This shouldn’t be done with Kong: Skull Island however, as the storyline is built on an almost completely different base from what many of us are familiar with.

We are looking at characters with new identities, motives and perspectives which to me feels more fresh and original than an identical reboot. While I have noticed some vague resemblances in a handful of characters that compare in the 2005 film, those can be easily overlooked as the story progresses. One problem I have with a few of the main characters is lack of a backstory. With some characters, I understand parts of what they have been through and why they behave in a certain way, others I have no idea. This didn’t feel like a deal-breaker to me, but it could have added more depth if done differently. Either way, the struggle and strength of these characters are what kept the movie action-packed and engaging.

The interesting choice of cast worked well as characters who come from different areas of expertise all focused on one mission. I had only really known Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the Marvel films and yet I had no trouble adjusting to him in a completely different role for this film. Brie Larson is also great in bringing us a female protagonist who is adventurous, brave and strong, unlike what can be seen in many typical Hollywood films. Other actors such as John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C.Reilly deliver well-suited performances for the sake of a fun and thrilling story.

Looking at the overall visuals of the film, from Kong and other beasts to the setting of Skull Island, I am impressed and satisfied with the way it fits into the mysterious nature of what is being explored. Introducing what I believe is the largest version of Kong shows him as more superior, fearsome and brutal than ever. While the look of the Skull Island environment and surroundings might feel a bit cliche at times, they fit perfectly into the beautiful, light-hearted and suspenseful themes this film creates which is what counts at the end of the day.

The Verdict
Kong: Skull Island has brought back this classic monster in a refreshing new light and nicely set up a future for further films of a franchise. I look forward to seeing more of what’s to come in the MonsterVerse with Kong and Godzilla.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 9th March 2017
Rating: M – Contains violence and offensive language
Duration: 118 minutes 
Genre:  Fantasy
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer)

The Extras
Sets were built at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, near the same filming locations as Jurassic World (2015).

The second installment of the MonsterVerse, following Godzilla (2014).

Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons were originally attached to the film, but both had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. John C. Reilly took over Keaton's role while Samuel L. Jackson replaced Simmons.

The film takes place in 1973. (In the film's beginning, President Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War - that announcement was issued in January 1973.

Kong: Skull Island_ features the tallest incarnation of Kong in an American film, standing approximately 104 feet (31.6 meters) tall, while Peter Jackson's Kong was only 25 feet (7.6 meters) tall by comparison. The tallest incarnation of Kong overall is the one featured in _King Kong vs. Godzilla_ (1962), which stood approximately 147 feet (45 meters) tall.

Kong's design is inspired by a combination of King Kong (1933) and the Japanese adaptation in the 1960s. This allows the creative team to both utilize a look similar to the classic Kong, while drawing upon the exaggerated "kaiju" aspects, and powers, displayed by the Japanese adaptation, such as greatly exaggerated height, build, strength, and supernatural abilities. This will allow a more "even" confrontation with Godzilla, in the upcoming "King Kong vs Godzilla" film planned for 2020.

King Kong (1976) was also filmed in Hawaii.