After the success Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures had rebooting Godzilla for an American audience in 2014, the studio and distributor decided it was time to create a movie Monsterverse with connecting films and spinoffs similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the big radioactive lizard got to kick things off by taking down a pair of M.U.T.O.s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) looking to mate in San Fransisco, it only seemed natural to bring in the giant movie monster that started it all way back in 1933. Kong: Skull Island is the new entry into the expanding Monsterverse that focuses on everyone’s favorite giant ape that makes his home on a mysterious island full of prehistoric beasts with sharp teeth looking to rip into any trespassers that dare set foot into Kong’s territory.
Now some of the beats are the same in Kong: Skull Island. As in the previous films, the story focuses on a group of explorers who head to an uncharted island and find Kong not to happy they stopped by. For the most part that is the only thing that is familiar with Kong getting a new mythology this time around. Gone is the Beauty and the Beast theme from past takes on the ape, the action also stays primarily on Skull Island in 1973 and the trip to the Big Apple with all of its tall buildings for Kong to climb on has been cancelled. Kong himself also looks different standing upright and measuring in at over a hundred feet. The hairy M.U.T.O. doesn’t look like Peter Jackson’s 2005 Silverback Gorilla version and has a posture that’s actually more similar to Toho’s 1962 classic King Kong vs Godzilla which makes sense since this is the Monsterverse with Godzilla as its centerpiece. The unlucky humans this time around are a mostly entertaining bunch which include Tom Hiddleston as former soldier turned tracker James Conrad, Photographer Mason Weaver played by Oscar Winner Brie Larson and John Goodman whose character’s affiliation with the secretive Monarch Organization connects Kong: Skull Island to Godzilla. The cast has fun with their roles, but make no mistake. Kong is the star to watch in this cast and he does not disappoint.
Heading into Kong: Skull Island, some expectations should be left at the door of theater when you walk in. After all this is a movie about a giant ape that lives on a prehistoric island surrounded by a hurricane. This new Kong is more for the Fast and Furious generation with the monster monkey delivering Superman punches to the vicious “Skull Crushers” that infest the island and devour a good deal of our cast. Kong: Skull Island is non stop action throughout the 118 minute running time and has a borderline PG-13 rating with an ample amount of violence on-screen as people get ripped to pieces by the island creatures. The complaints of Godzilla‘s sluggish pace and refusal to show the monster must have been heard, because director Jordan Vogt-Roberts doesn’t shy away from showing Kong in action at all. He smacks down helicopters, wrestles an octopus and has numerous showdowns with the Skull Crushers.
Of course if you really stop to look at Kong: Skull Island, the film is not without its flaws. Samuel L. Jackson’s Lieutenant Colonel Packard is pretty silly at times going all Captain Ahab fighting a battle he clearly will not win. Also a few characters, especially Toby Kebbell are completely pointless and eat up time that wasn’t needed in the overall film. The problems are there, but they are very easy to overlook thanks to Kong going bananas in exciting fashion, John C. Reilly as the scene stealing marooned WWII pilot Hank and a secret scene after the credits that will get people very excited as to what is coming next in the Monsterverse. Kong: Skull Island is not looking to be The Shawshank Redemption, but rather big dumb movie fun that will have you feeling like you’re playing monsters in your backyard as a kid.
Overall, I give Kong Skull: Island 3 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell