Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts | 118 minutes | action, adventure, fantasy, science fiction | Actors: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson, Will Brittain, Miyavi, Richard Jenkins, Allyn Rachel, Robert Taylor, James M. Connor, Thomas Middleditch, Brady Novak

There was a time when Kong was the king of movies. A stunning movie experience with dazzling special effects. Of course, this technology has changed a lot over time. To try out these new forms of effects, each generation has its own ‘King Kong’. Each version frantically tries to emulate the magic of the original from 1933, so that it often remains a visual spectacle. However, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ tries to do something different with the classic story. No gorgeous actress Ann Darrow or obsessed director Carl Denham in this version. New York or the Empire State Building are nowhere to be seen either. King Kong plays a home game in this print.

In ‘Kong: Skull Island’, instead of the eccentric director, we get the eccentric scientist Bill Randa (John Goodman). He is the sole survivor of a major shipwreck that he believes was caused by something unnatural near Skull Island. After years of nagging for an expedition, Randa finally gets the necessary financing. Elsewhere in the world the Vietnam War has been fought and there are a lot of soldiers who are out of work. Randa recruits a company led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a survivalist named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), and anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to help him search for the strange creatures on the island .

Once they arrive at Skull Island, the characters soon meet the main attraction of this film: King Kong. All scenes with the iconic giant monkey are adrenaline-pumping and are without a doubt the highlights of the print. Also not a bad word about the other flora and fauna of Skull Island. The group of humans comes into contact with a large number of creatures and each gets their moment of glory. In particular the so-called Skull Crawlers, huge two-legged lizard species that are assigned the antagonist role. Not without reason, they make for some of the most horrifying images and even have a personal vendetta against King Kong. This is all fleshed out in a simple but effective backstory.

It gives the great ape just a little more depth and history than in previous versions (although they did give the beast more emotion). The irony in this fact is that this is almost entirely absent from the human characters. Especially if you look at the previous work of director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who delivered a film driven by the characters with ‘The Kings of Summer’. It seems therefore not for nothing that a number of big names/charismatic actors have been chosen. The viewer identifies a lot faster with the characters because of the familiar face behind them. The motives of the various characters are therefore not always clear.

Whether that’s a bad thing, however, is another matter. No one will go to ‘Kong: Skull Island’ for a bunch of good characters with obvious character development. The monkey in question has to steal the show and it certainly does. The film clearly offers a different version of the King Kong story but falls largely into the same pitfalls as its predecessors. It’s not all that high-quality, but it sure is a nice spectacle. A true popcorn movie.

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