In 2014 Gareth Edwards introduced the world to Hollywood’s interpretation on one of Popular Culture’s most recognisable figures. In Godzilla we were given the opening chapter to a franchise hoping to capitalise on the disappointment that was Roland Emmerich’s brain dead mess.
As a result of this, a list of sequels including Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla 2 and Godzilla v Kong were announced to add some much needed weight to this budding Monster Mash (this will be the only time I use that analogy I promise!). Although I was openly excited about its release, quietly I was concerned that Godzilla’s misdemeanours may permeate in to this promising sequel. How wrong I was!
Round 1 – Story
I have to admit, in terms of overall story arch, Kong: Skull Island makes absolutely no sense! For some reason John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and a group of US soldiers expecting to return from the horrors of Vietnam are sent to excavate the very recently confirmed Skull Island just because the Russians may do it first. From here on we are overwhelmed with what is essentially an analogy of the 7 deadly sins within the world. With Goodman’s Greed, Samuel L. Jackson’s Wrath and Brie Larson’s Pride to name a few, what is supposed to be a Monster-movie actually finds a way to produce characters as necessary as the creature of the title.
Speaking of which, Kong is thankfully shown in fantastic fashion. Unlike Godzilla, Kong is thrust to the forefront within the opening 20 minutes, and never really disappears from there on. Through his physical and emotional presence, the Giant Ape? (Gorilla…? Monkey…) is given a near perfect amount of screen time to justify a movie bearing his name.
What stood out the most for me was that the motives of the human characters seemed to make complete sense. I’ll admit that Tom Hiddleston’s purpose is to solely judge those of you in the audience wanting to see more and more Napalm for your admission cost. Otherwise we are given an array of characters either understandable, unconventional or unforgivable that perfectly balance the scale between humanity and abnormality.
One final thought on the story is that it’s no so subtle admission of lunacy does somewhat hinder what should have been a clinical opening round. As an audience we are more than aware that a film involving an 800ft Primate will never be an intricate character driven narrative, we don’t need the characters to highlight throughout the film. Just have fun and let the good times roll.
ROUND 1 SCORE: 6/10
Round 2 – Characters
The cast of actors appearing in Kong: Skull Island is an impeccable mix of old and new actors giving a performance they obviously enjoy. As a person who has as close to a Movie set as I have £1Million cash, I can’t speak from experience. However it has always seemed to me that shooting films likes this must be an absolute bash so long as the cast is right.
To me a cast that includes John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson would be as close to a dream as possible. The wealth of talent and experience as well as genuine entertainment value seems to be endless – not to mention the fact that they will have each contributed to the MCU in one way another by the time Infinity War is released.
The one that stood out for me however was in fact John Goodman. Where have these recent performances come from?! It seems as though he has found his niche in playing the secretive outsider. I found myself hooked to every word he spoke in his wonderfully husky voice. It was in fact a scene involving him that caused me to give the loudest reaction. (I yelled an expletive and the people around understandly cut their eyes)
In terms of either strength of story against reliability of characters, the characters win hands down. Although their initial rationale may not be entirely clear. Their progression through the film is clinically portrayed and knowingly respected.
ROUND 2 SCORE: 9/10
Round 3 – Overall Enjoyment
Kong: Skull Island is one of the most entertaining Blockbuster staples I have seen in months! When you look at the dour tone of comic book films these days it is becoming clear that fun is not fashionable at the moment. Kong, instead, sadistically laughs at the wilful destruction it’s environment in addition to the frankly barbaric lack of respect for the sanctity of Human Life. And guess what, I loved it!
What is wrong with watching the odd film that doesn’t try too hard to be inventive? What is wrong with switching your mind off and revelling in the chaotic barbarism of death and destruction? Obviously we will never experience something as extreme of this, so why not enjoy it while it lass? Especially with CGI that will take a hell of a lot to beat in the coming years.
ROUND 3 SCORE – 10/10
Final Score – Kong: Skull Island wins by Decision 25/30
Kong: Skull Island will not win awards for its storytelling acumen. It will however satisfy the growing need of audiences to produce relatable human stories in a world fantastical beyond regular conception.
What did you think of Kong: Skull Island? How would you score each round? Let me know in the comments, and if you’re feeling generous, please like/share this post so others can appreciate it too.