There’s a new King Kong movie opening tonight. Feels like more people should know that.
Actually, scratch that. According to ComScore, Kong: Skull Island is the most talked about movie on social media right now behind Deadpool 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Beauty and the Beast. People are clearly aware of its existence, but do they know that Skull Island is apparently really good?
Define “really good”:
Those are just numbers, man.
Pfft. Same dif.
Are you even trying? That’s just the trailer. Anyone can make a good trailer out of a bad movie. Give me some reason to believe this won’t be a repeat of Gareth Edwards’ serviceable 2014 version of Godzilla.
Hey, Godzilla‘s not that bad, and if Skull Island is equally as enjoyable that wouldn’t be the worst thing, just as long as it doesn’t stupidly kill off its best character a quarter of the way into the movie. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly anchor a surprisingly stellar cast for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose only prior movie is 2013’s Sundance family drama The Kings of Summer. Sometimes unqualified directors thrown into the deep end like this inevitably drown. Other times they swim. The early word is Vogt-Roberts falls into the latter category, as THR argued:
He had the crucial inspiration to set this Kong redo in 1973, specifically at the moment the United States pulled out of Vietnam, a decision that nourishes nearly every aspect of the film. Certainly the specter of Col. Kurtz looms over the perilous journey undertaken by this tale’s small band of mostly military explorers into unknown tropical territory, but what awaits them is a whole lot bigger and scarier than Marlon Brando.
So, kinda like Aliens, but set on Earth and not in the future. On second thought, maybe not so much like Aliens, but similar in the way it views a monster movie through a Vietnam filter, dropping boastful soldiers in unfamiliar surroundings and watching them get picked off one by one.
This poster is clearly going more for the Apocalypse Now vibe. Just think of it as Skull Island Now:
The stars, of course, will at least make it halfway through the movie. Jackson is the gun-happy Colonel, Hiddleston a special ops mercenary, Larson a combat photographer, Goodman the government man who puts the mission together and Reilly an old cook they meet on the island. Everyone else? Probably dead meat, but it’s ok; Reilly jokes about it in the trailer.
With so much star power and charisma, the characters at least stand a better chance of carrying the plot more capably than Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen did in Godzilla. I say that as someone who actually liked Godzilla, which at least delivers the monster movie thrills it’s supposed to. From the sounds of it, Kong will do the same, and not repeat Godzilla‘s divisive tactic of keeping the monster off screen for as long as possible.
This Kong is 100 feet tall; he was only around 25 feet tall in the 1933 original as well as in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake.
According to THR’s review:
In the end, though, it’s not the characters the audiences will have come to see, but the monsters, and the film doesn’t stint in supplying them. This Kong, who makes his entrance a well-timed half hour in, is far bigger than any before him, about 100 feet tall. Still, he faces fierce competition on the island from, among others, some toothsome lizards who happily take advantage of the change in diet offered by the new human visitors.
Vogt-Roberts and his collaborators make sure to take care of business where it really counts, which is in the invention and excitement of the monster scenes. Fully realistic creatures are now nothing new, but the filmmakers, notably led by visual effects supervisors Stephen Rosenbaum and Jeff White, have engineered scenes of bestial combat that are not only hyper-credible but shot through with unexpected, and often gruesomely funny, moves. The digital zoo is colorful indeed, from a towering spider to a giant water buffalo and an all-embracing octopus, making it clear that Kong has his hands full of worthy opponents on a regular basis. It’s no wonder the old guy seems world-weary.
And most of the reviews on Mashable’s review round-up praised Skull Island’s execution of a familiar formula and (somewhat empty) fun.
Of course, there’s still the question of whether or not the world really needed yet another King Kong movie, or is particularly excited about the planned Godzilla-King Kong movie a little further down the road. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, who wasn’t nearly as high on Skull Island as THR, has his doubts:
Although practical effects originally gave life to Kong, Godzilla and their destructive brethren, their resurgence has more to do with advancements in technology than the allegorical possibilities that made them appealing in the first place. There’s enough material out there to fuel a string of reboots, but the swing toward diminishing returns has already begun. Kong is a fascinating character because despite his menacing appearance, he just wants to be left alone. If only his franchise were treated that way.
True, but couldn’t we use a dumb monster movie with a bunch of slumming-it movie stars right about now? Don’t you want to see how Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson chose to unwind after the mentally and emotionally exhausting experience of making Room? Won’t it be fun to see if Samuel L. Jackson manages to sneak in an F-bomb? It’s certainly about time that Hiddleston got his turn to play a roguish hero.
For all of those reasons and more, I’m seeing Skull Island this weekend. What about you?