One of the many things that I have never outgrown is the idea and love of giant monsters. There are few things cooler than a giant fucking monsters fighting one another. I started young with books about dinosaurs, then seeing Son of Kong and I eventually found Godzilla. Needless to say, I was hooked. That big, prickly bastard stole my heart and I have spent a lifetime obsessing over these cinematic beasts. When I heard that Legendary pictures were creating a universe around these titans I wanted to be cynical, but I just couldn’t. Godzilla (2014) dropped and I liked it just fine, but I did walk away with a handful of gripes (mainly in its braindead casting). I was hoping that Legendary learned from some of its mistakes and I walked into Kong: Skull Island with an open mind.
Wow! I am so happy that I did. This entry (in the nearly 100 year old franchise) was like a greatest hits of monster action, with all of the scale you would hope to see in a “zillion” dollar blockbuster. What was instantly noticeable was the fun and humor injected into this movie. Godzilla was a humorless, sullen flick that focused on the carnage. Kong was the opposite, it wasn’t afraid to hoot-and-holler at its own mayhem and even poke a little fun at itself
The story is pretty basic, surface level stuff. Its the last days of the Vietnam war and a group of scientists want to explore a new island in the South Pacific. They team up with some soldiers and eventually run into Kong. Once Kong takes out their Helicopters, it turns into a race for survival for some ill prepared folks and trigger happy soldiers. Blah, blah, blah…
Kong: Skull Island is unique in its approach these days. Most movies and reboots are shooting for a gritty, realistic take and this film is miles away from that. It treats violence with gleam and allows comedy to carry a movie about giant monkeys fighting dinosaurs. Based on the description, it seems like that treatment would be a no brainer but Hollywood has been defying that notion for a long time now.
What also adds to the fun is how well the CGI looks and the scale of the island. The monsters look fantastic and has some of the best digital FX that I have ever seen on screen. The island (itself) feels like a real place and sucks you in as soon as the characters arrive. My only complaint was the soundtrack. We know that this is a period piece, but give the “era” music a break sometimes. Every time we transition it blares a CCR track and can be (occasionally) distracting. All in all, this is a great addition to the giant monster genre and I hope its success leads to similarly themed films. I won’t spoil anything, but DO NOT leave before the post-credit stinger. That stinger is pretty awesome!