After Peter Jackson’s CGI-by-the-numbers remake of ‘King Kong’, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ breaks through the undergrowth of dull remakes and monster reboots to be a surprisingly entertaining action movie.
As leader of a secret governmental organisation John Goodman’s William Randa secures funding for a trip to a mysterious uncharted island. With the Vietnam war now ending, it’s just one more mission for Samuel L. Jackson’s helicopter unit before going home. However for Jackson himself, it’s something else. His unfocused hurt is that of an Ahab in search of a whale. His is a smouldering set of damaged goods that will find itself tested in another furnace of rage. And a much larger one at that.
Rounding out the team with Brie Larson as a photojournalist and Tom Hiddleston as an former SAS tracker, they are all set and right from its opening scenes ‘Kong: Skull Island’ declares its intention to entertain. Set in the same universe as Gareth Edward’s previous monster movie, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is keen to avoid ’Godzilla’s’ ponderous tone. Boosted by a John Williams-like score, the visuals come flying through the screen thick and fast in a plot awash with action. However for anyone who has made similar journeys to islands from the Jurassic period, you will know what to expect whilst still finding much to admire.
The humans may be all at sea… but Kong stands on firm ground.
For whilst the dialogue is square and not subtle, there is some acting joy to be found in the form of John C. Reilly who injects both dread and humour into the movie’s story. As already mentioned, Samuel Jackson is suitably sanguine and intimidating and Brie Larson’s character mercifully eschews Fray Wray’s standard damsel-in-distress. However it is Kong himself who leaps from the script most ably in a much more animated version of himself than in previous remakes and sequels. The humans may be all at sea but unhindered by creaking dialogue, Kong stands on firm ground.
In the end ’Kong: Skull Island’ makes no bones about its comic-book intentions and invites you along for the ride. As with the opening scene, the post credits teaser nearly eclipses the movie. However in trying to strike a balance between spectacle and scintillating dialogue there is still room to grow for these mega monsters. With hinted projects yet to come, it seems that they will get their chance.