Kong is back. And lucky for us, he’s mad as hell!
King Kong never seems to get the respect he deserves, even as his corporeal supernatural body stands buildings-above his distant cousins on the evolutionary chart, he still tumbles off skyscrapers, gets his heart broken by human females and swats at the intruding flying nuisances of the modern age.
It always seems sad that this beast is often bullied even though it should be the other way around.
Kong: Skull Island fixes all of that. Not only is Kong in serious need of anger management, his rage exposed through reproving snarls and bared fangs wreaks havoc on anyone or anything he feels a threat.
Skull Island begins and remains in the early 1970’s: the “me” decade: A time when America was just coming out of a confusing war where the country was divided maybe even moreso than it is now.
Back then, soldiers, drafted into uncertainty, explored distant lands and different cultures if only to extinguish them in the name of freedom.
This subtlety is not lost in Kong: Skull Island, in fact it’s front and center through on-location shooting and a stellar soundtrack of anti-war songs available on a curated oldies playlist somewhere.
“Kong’s” dot-to-dot plot isn’t really important here; you’ve seen and heard it all before. A crack team of men (and a woman) are tasked with exploring an uncharted land. The fashion in which they get there is time well spent developing characters. But not by much.
That brevity means it doesn’t take long before we get to the outskirts of Skull Island which is surrounded by an ever-present disruptive electrical storm system.
Enter Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a military squad leader who commands a fleet of helicopters.
He’s cocksure, with tenets of leadership forged from the madness of conflict. He’s seen the savagery of war, and since he survived thus far, he appears ready for another. He gets one.
To reveal any of the massive showstopping special effects and setpieces would be cause for you the reader to revoke my critic card. And I wouldn’t blame you.
They are spectacular and so frequent that the upgrade on your refillable popcorn is a waste of money because you won’t want to leave your seat.
After a harrowing and rivet-rattling formation flight through the center of the storm, the expedition can finally start exploring the island’s landscape once they all land.
The extraneous military flight team remains airborne and begins to drop seismic bombs; it’s all a part of the exercise, but the blasts draw the attention of Kong who confronts them on their aerial level.
In one of the most terrifying action sequences I have seen in a long time, Kong tears through the squadron with everything he’s got.
Camera angles and perspectives from both inside and out of the copters is sobering. Human life is treated like a swarm of mosquitoes as Kong tries to rout the incoming strangers.
Kong isn’t about edifying any of his actions, that’s left to the audience.
The special effects here are top-notch and the next sequence more wonderful than the last.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and the geniuses at Industrial Light and Magic work cinematic miracles in their rendered affectations.
Which brings us to the team, what’s left of them. They are left scattered around Skull Island, and must try to rendezvous with each other and an incoming rescue operative.
Meanwhile Jackson has no consternation even after the helicopter standoff and suddenly holds a grudge against the giant ape on an Ahabian scale.
Each stranded group faces their own monsters on the island, and that’s where I will stop and leave it to you to discover this rollercoaster ride.
One thing Kong: Skull Island has done away with, is the odd romance between beauty and the beast.
Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) is the documentarian and only woman on the expedition, but forget any weird bestiality angst in Kong: Skull Island, the meet-cute is where it ends.
Kong: Skull Island is a terrifying film. With enough true terror and unexpected savagery that the twist is the PG-13 rating: you are definitely treated to a soft R. That is unless things have really changed at the cineplex and I’m an old curmudgeon.
Some scenes are so graphic, I think the MPAA may have been watching the 1976 version instead.
That said, this movie is a non-stop action thriller with glorious movement and very effective and expensive jump-scares.
The finale is so spectacular that I could see the audiences heads move collectively behind their 3-D glasses as the action permeated the screen.
Not a perfect movie, if your’re looking for unrequited romance under waterfalls or character development in-between action sequences.
But if it’s Kong on a rampage, and a variety of abundant and truly intense scares you want, Kong: Skull Island is definitely a place you want to visit. Bring bananas and bug spray.
And stay in your seat until the end of the credits for a special surprise.
Kong: Skull Island opens nationwide on Friday, March 10.