FILM REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island
Move over Marvel and DC, there’s a new cinematic universe on the block, and it’s here to wreak some havoc.
Going into Kong: Skull Island, I had been expecting a lot of action and some humor in an entertaining movie. What I didn’t expect was that the movie would be great. In fact, it’s definitely one of my favourites this year so far, next to Logan, despite occasional cheesy dialogue, which actually ended up reinforcing the movie’s charm. Kong: Skull Island is a one-way trip to the home of Kong you won’t soon forget.
One thing I noticed during the movie is that while the trailers show Kong as being extremely aggressive towards the humans flying into his home in helicopters, he is actually only retaliating due to the fact that bombs were dropped for “geological research”. The scientific group Monarch knows that there is something on the island, and wants to lure it out of hiding, and so they task a military group to join them on their trip to the island and drop bombs, leading to further conflict in the movie, as Preston Packer (Samuel L. Jackson) seeks revenge on the titular ape for killing some of his men. He sees his men as the victims, even though Kong was only defending himself. Taking place directly after the Vietnam War (which ends in the first 20 minutes of the movie), Preston Packer is on his “one last mission”, not yet willing to go back to everyday life.
James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) are the polar opposites of Preston Packer, listening to Hank Marlow, the American pilot stuck on the island since WW2. He explains that Kong is the only one defending them from the so-called “Skull Crawlers”, all the while realizing how stupid and cheesy the ominous name is as soon as he says it out loud. They also undergo character development, as even their dialogue when they meet is based on what they were offered, and why they’re on board. At the end of the movie, Weaver is willing to keep pictures to herself that could get her a Pulitzer, and Conrad isn’t mapping the island to sell it to the highest bidder.
The whole movie revolves both around Kong and the Americans on the island, effectively switching from fast-paced monkey business to occasionally slower human problems and reminiscing, but never losing the feeling that there are dangers on the island that could never strike. There is never a long enough break between fast-paced moments in the movie for there to be any feeling of safety.
Another thing that Kong accomplishes is brutality. Unlike Logan, which doesn’t stop at anything to show you all the guts and glory, Kong: Skull Island tends to look away after a certain damage level. However, it never looks away fast enough for you to not see what just happened. For example, in a scene where someone is eaten by a skull crawler, the camera cuts away to his equipment being splattered in his blood. In another instance, it cuts away to someone taking a huge bite into a sandwich just as someone is snapped up by a skull crawler.
Despite the whole movie being great, there is exactly one scene that I liked the most. The end-credits scene. Now, it may sound weird that my favourite scene in a movie is the post-credits scene, but it will make sense. Kong: Skull Island is its own movie. There is no doubt of that.
Unlike in the MCCU, where the Avengers was already teased in the first movie, and the DCEU, where the Justice League was blasted in our faces in Batman v Superman, Kong: Skull Island is the second movie in the Legendary Studios MonsterVerse, the first being Godzilla (2014). While Godzilla had no teases of this shared universe, Skull Island does, and only in the end credits scene.
Conrad and Weaver are presented with tales and ancient drawings of Godzilla, Zodan, and more creatures, in fearsome fights. They are told about the existence of these other creatures, and when the finish, the screen turns to black, with Godzilla’s signature “SKREONK” coming out of nowhere to finish the movie. This is how you start a shared cinematic universe.
Kong: Skull Island was a hell of a ride, and I can’t wait for the next entries in the Legendary Monsterverse, the next being “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” in 2019, followed by undoubtedly a match-up bigger than Civil War and Batman v Superman put together: “Godzilla vs. Kong”, coming out in 2020.