There is a certain intrigue to the unknown. For years storytellers have crafted their pieces around the anticipation that precedes it, the letdown that can come of it or the fear that can follow it. It is a classic formula that has inbuilt suspense and seldom fails to keep the audience’s interest when told on a grand scale. Kong: Skull Island explores what happens when the unknown is both everything you’d hoped for but nothing like you could have ever imagined.
Being released a staggering eighty-four years after the original King Kong fought his way up the Empire State, the audience is transported to Kong’s homeland of Skull Island, a world in which he is king and a saviour. All seems to be fine until the Americans show up, disrupt the peace and threaten to destroy the fragile ecosystem that exists for the land of mythical creatures. In what is a little too obvious to the untrained eye, the film positions itself as very anti-war, going as far to demonise the American military tactics as well as painting some of the soldiers as power hungry, stubborn and irresponsible over the freedom fighting machines they are often portrayed as. Shots of a sunset-soaked Kong standing proudly with helicopters firing machine guns help to really drive the nail in – just in case you missed it after all the characters describe their surroundings and actions.
In a recent trend of employing well reviewed indie directors to tackle the next chapter of blockbusters such as Gareth Edwards for Godzilla, Colin Trevrow for Jurassic World and James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy – Kong allows Jordan Vogt-Roberts to use his artistic skills developed during his work in The Kings of Summer without the budget restraints and on a much larger scale. The result ultimately lines up with the aforementioned directors’ results as a more creative approach is taken, allowing the audience to fully grasp the characters and the world in which they are trespassing. However, a clunky script works to pull you away from being totally attached to the world Vogt-Roberts tries so desperately to create. Additionally, Tom Hiddleston seems to act less like the recent Golden Globe winner he is and more relies on his built in British charm.
Thankfully Brie Larson saves the day with her keen ability to shine in every role she’s given, playing a keen photo journalist on the hunt for a Pulitizer prize winning photo. The Oscar winner’s performance seems to only be matched by the John C. Reilly. Despite his character being exactly what you’d expect it to be, he performs it right on the line between fully committing and taking the piss. Kudos.
Overall the film is a slight step above the run-of-the-mill blockbuster effort, successfully establishing a franchise that is already destined to meet Godzilla somewhere down the line. Although the metaphor is a bit too on the nose, it’s easy to get lost in the special effects and the constant battle scenes.