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Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Hello MoFo’s! And welcome to another edition of At the Theater with The Gunslinger45. GIANT F**KING MONSTERS! I have been a big fan of these kinds of flicks since I was a kid. I grew up on Godzilla movies, I watched a few Gamera flicks, Mighty Joe Young, and I watched a bunch of King Kong movies. I saw the original on TV at a very young age, I know I saw King Kong Lives, and I am not 100% if I saw Kong 76. I also saw the Peter Jackson King Kong movie in 2005, which I liked but did not love. Then again my most memorable and favorite King Kong movie I saw was King Kong vs Godzilla. We owned that movie on VHS, and you better believe we watched the hell out of that movie when I was 5. Hell, me and my brother recreated the movie a bunch of times with our Godzilla and King Kong action figures. And I can’t talk about King Kong without speaking about how King Kong the Ride was a lot of fun at Universal Studios in Florida. So I kinda had to see this movie. I wish that I could say was super excited to see this movie, but I really wasn’t. In honest truth King Kong while really cool, will never have the childhood hook that Godzilla did. Godzilla was a better monster, had better movies, had more movies, and represented a bigger part of my childhood then King Kong ever could. Hence why I was excited to see Godzilla (2014) and I loved that movie. Now did I like this movie? F**K YEAH is the short answer. For the long answer grab your guns and hop into the chopper as we explore Kong: Skull Island.

We open the in WWII. An American airman and a Japanese pilot crash land on what will be known as Skull Island. They try to kill each other until the fight is interrupted when Kong happens by. We then fast forward to the 70’s. And not just any date in the 70’s, it was right when direct US involvement in Vietnam came to an end. We see John Goodman and his sidekick scientist played by Houston Brooks are going to see a US Senator. They are a part of Monarch, a government organization set up during the Truman days. They are in desperate need to get to Skull Island since their organization is going broke and loosing it’s relevancy as war time is coming to an end. They need to get to the island and hopefully find something relevant there so they can keep their doors open. They manage to get the green light for the expedition and request some military back up. The first part of that comes with the recruiting of Lt Colonel Packard (Sam Jackson). He is the commanding officer of an Air Calvary Unit for the US Army. He is a decorated war hero who is coming to terms with the war coming to an end, and accepts the job to escort Goodman and Brooks to Skull Island. Next the recruit Tom Hiddleston who plays Captain Conrad of the British SAS. He is hired to be a guide since he has extensive experience in jungle warfare, operating in dense vegetation, and locating downed pilots. Next they hire a photo journalist played by Brie Larson. They all pack onto a bunch of Huey helicopters and make their way through the perpetual storm system that surrounds Skull Island. Everything looks to be going smoothly until they encounter King Kong, who proceeds to smack the ever loving crap out of the choppers. The surviving members of the expedition team are now forced to try and get the hell out of dodge until their back up arrives in three days. But the island is populated by a lot more than just Kong.

So I really dug the movie, but the movie is not without flaws. The biggest issue is the pacing in the beginning of the movie. The set up for the film felt like it was on fast forward. John Goodman and Brooks have a conversation that set’s up the back story for Monarch and why they need to go to the island. And it is done very quickly. Then comes the recruiting of the other expedition members who are also set up and established at an almost break neck speed. It did not flow at all and felt really rushed. Now there were a few minor gripes like how they seemed to try and fit in a “war is bad we are all people” message. This is particularly described by John C. Reilly who plays the American pilot who crashed landed in the 40’s. His character talked about how he befriended the Japanese pilot when they crashed and how when they stripped away the uniform they were just people. Brie Larson’s “anti-war photographer” character also has a few quips with Lt Col Packard about war. I got nothing against political messages in giant monster movies. Hell, Godzilla was one big metaphor for the atomic bomb. But it felt out of place in this movie. But not quite as out of place as Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” in the movie. That came out of nowhere. I thought they were trying to homage Dr Strangelove, but I don’t know how. Felt distracting for me.

But enough of my gripes; this movie was great! You like Vietnam War movies? You like giant monster movies? Well you are in luck! This is basically King Kong in a damn Vietnam War movie! From the rocken 70’s sound track to the lighting and color scheme, this movie felt like a Nam war movie! I mean for f**k sake the poster I saw when I went to the movie theater looked like Kong was in Apocalypse Now!

And it kinda is! We get an epic combat scene involving Kong fighting a bunch of Hueys and a Chinook and eventually lead to a river boat ride to get the hell out of dodge! Only Col Kurtz is a massive 50 story gorilla instead of a massive overweight Marlon Brando! And Lt Col Packard could be the Lt Col Kilgore of this movie, he acts more like Ahab. Sam Jackson does a great job at being this movie’s pissed off and unhinged character. But the real star of the movie is King Kong. Who is done really well by Industrial Light and Magic. And while I felt that Kong itself had better motion capture effects in the Peter Jackson movie, this Kong is more of a badass. I sat through two and a half hours of a good Kong movie only to witness a few pretty good fights. But I had to wait through a lot of people drama to get to them. This movie cut to the chase early and satisfied my longing of giant monster madness. Let’s face it if I am going to rewatch a modern Kong reboot, it is going to be this one.

Remember how I said the movie felt rushed in the beginning? That is because they were trying to get to Kong ASAP. Warner Brothers apparently listen to the criticism of Godzilla 2014 about taking too long to get to the damn fights. So we get to Skull Island in like the first 15-20 minutes. Which means we get to see Kong fight a lot. We see him fight the choppers, a giant octopus (which I took as an homage to King Kong vs Godzilla), and he fought a bunch of these new monsters called “skull crawlers.” Which is a major upgrade from Godzilla 2014. But, in Kong: Skull Island while you do have more fights, do not come close to topping the final fight in Godzilla 2014. But that being said the fights in this movie are still awesome, and more frequent then in the 05 movie.

But then we get the final cherry on top. If you see this movie, wait for the post credit teaser.

WARNING: "Post credit clip" spoilers below
We see Hiddleston and Larson back at Monarch HQ. They are talking with the Monarch employees who reveal to them that there are other monsters out there. And we then cut to other primitive paintings of what are clearly Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah. It even ended with Godzilla’s signature roar. Firmly cementing the shared universe, and setting up for the already confirmed King Kong vs Godzilla movie.

Needless to say I walked out of the theater excited and as giddy as I was when I was 5!

So I really liked this movie. It was a great fusion of a giant monster and a war movie and improved upon a bunch of criticisms of the last Godzilla movie. If you like giant monster movies, see this movie! You will not be disappointed!