Kong : Skull Island (2017)

Show Me The Monkey!


Skull Island




Loved it.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  And probably for the ‘wrong’ reason:  because it was fun.  It was just heart-pumping, kid-on-a-haunted-house ride fun.

And it’s a giant monster movie.  The kind where giant monsters beat the living bejeezus out of each other.  Tons of action and truckloads of… fun.  You’re not meant to have fun at these movies anymore, didn’t you know that?

With Kong:  Skull Island I guess that you’re supposed to be overanalyzing it to death.  I mean, it’s very cleverly set in 1973, as the Americans were pulling out of Vietnam, having had their asses handed to them on a plate.  So are we supposed to be seeing their decimation on Skull Island as some sort of metaphor for American adventurism in countries where their noses didn’t belong in the first place?  Well, Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) does say that they didn’t lose the war, they just abandoned it.


And even though that particular little piece of history-rewriting (they lost) could have come straight from Rambo:  First Blood Part 2, not to worry. It doesn’t go anywhere because the FUN is about to begin.

Yeah, no messing about with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriters Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly;  because we get our first sight of Kong about three minutes in and within less than twenty-five we’re on the island and knee-deep in big hairy ape droppings sightings.


Remember when that’s what got us into this stuff in the first place?  Remember your first Saturday afternoon look at Cooper and Schoedsack’s 1933 original King Kong?  Back in the day when it wasn’t trendy and fashionable to deconstruct that classic into being a racist’s wet dream, simultaneously SUCKING THE FRIGGING JOY AND LIFE out of everything as you go?  When it was just plain fun?

Shout it Again, Sam

Well, that’s what this absolute belter of a movie is for me.

Even two of the dodgier cast members can’t spoil this one, because it is bullet-proof unless you’re the kind of person who just gets a hard-on for bashing everything.

Tom Hiddleston is Conrad, an ex-SAS type who’s been hired to lead the expedition to the uncharted island.  And if this had been immediately following his wonderful portrayal of Loki, I would have been well on with him.  Unfortunately, since then the actor has made himself look like two ends of a frog’s prick with his pathetic, doe-eyed mooning over the dreaded Taylor Swift, not to mention making a holy show of himself with ‘I Heart Taylor’ T-shirts.  And let’s not forget – although God knows I’ve tried – his ill-advised, change-your-agent photo shoot where he posed in various items of *ahem* leather gear.   So I just couldn’t look at him acting all hardman here, since all I could see was Wee Tom poncing about as if he was one of the Village People.

But Kong is so good that even Hiddleston can’t mess it up.

Samuel L. Jackson does something entirely new – something we’ve never seen the actor portray before, ever – and plays Colonel Packard as a loudmouthed, semi-psychotic, macho fuckhead.  ‘Way to stretch yourself, Sam.  I’m only surprised he didn’t do a monologue about making Kong suck his dick.

But Kong is so good that even Jackson can’t mess it up.

This is a reboot and so none of the characters know that it is a really bad idea to take an attractive woman to Skull Island, but it’s OK because this Kong, despite stretching out a helping paw, doesn’t think with his dong quite as much as his predecessors did.  The lady in question is ‘anti-war photographer’ Mason Weaver, played by Brie Larson, one of several actresses who should have been cast as Wonder Woman except that some coked-up Warner executives thought that hiring a model with no discernible charisma was a much better idea.

Brie doesn’t get a lot to do so she can’t mess it up either.  For me, no one can.

Fast Times on Skull Island

Don’t tell me that you aren’t knocked out by that absolute massacre of an entire helicopter squadron in a sequence that – just when you think it has run its course – keeps on and on surprising with the thrills.  And sure, I feel bad for the guys on board; but payback for the Empire State Building take-down has been a long time a-coming.

We’re on the island for the whole shindig here, no buggering about in New York.  This is Lost World stuff – and even if for some bizarre reason you had no interest in the astonishing wildlife then you would still have a great time just with the island’s landscape itself, which is photographed with obvious glee by cinematographer Larry Fong, utilizing eye-watering parts of Hawaii, Australia and Vietnam.

We also get the Hollow Earth Theory thrown in (at which point I almost started crying with happiness — true) so there’s a nice Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar vibe into the bargain.

And what is it that just makes a whole shedload of helicopters flying into the face of the sun whilst Creedence Clearwater Revival or Jefferson Airplane blast out on the soundtrack SO DAMNED GREAT?  Add a ginormous monkey standing in the way and I’m in Heaven.

And this Kong, by the way, really is enormous – far, far bigger than in O’Brien’s or Jackson’s versions.  And get this:  he is just a young ‘un, still growing. (Motion capture performer Terry Notary says he played him as an ‘adolescent’.)  In fact, we get to see the bones of his mammy and daddy.  And…well, they’re fierce big altogether, so they are.

In fact, I found myself wondering just how much Kong has to eat to maintain that size.  Well, that gets answered…graphically.

The rest of the visual effects are nothing less than astonishing.  This is what CGI was meant for.

The only real live actor that really gets a look in is John C. Reilly, who damned near steals the show as a man out of his time, a WWII lieutenant who has been on the island for 28 years.  Called Marlow, he plays the part with humour, eccentricity and pathos.  Brilliant.

By the way, with characters called Conrad and Marlow, you just have to feel the love for Heart of Darkness – and by extension Apocalypse Now.  God, writing this review is making me so happy.

Kong: Skull Island is the second in Legendary’s MonsterVerse series; and as much as I loved the earlier Godzilla, this is the one that has me hooked.  Starting right from the credits sequence it works and extrapolates from that one perfectly – although, of course, chronologically this is the earlier one.

And hang around for the post-credits tease.  Can you handle hints at…Rodan, King Ghidora and – wait for it! – MOTHRA!?



Damn.  I think I’ve just wet myself.







Author: Charley Brady

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1 Comment

  1. How can I add to that Charley I’m in total agreement with virtually everything you said, simply mindblowing stuff!, I never heard about the Taylor Swift stuff but I do agree Hiddleston doesn’t quite fit the mold as a hard man, oh and I could just picture your face (spoiler ahead) when Kong slammed his huge fist down on SLJ squashing him to a pulp, you probably just about resisted the temptation to leap out of your cinema seat and let out a huge cheer?.

    And yeah a brilliant soundtrack to boot to rubber stamp a fantastic movie.

    Actually Cha when I checked out the directors back catalogue I couldn’t believe he was chosen for this?, but man did he hit it off where many more established Hollywood big action movie directors have failed miserably, too many to mention, but he was obviously helped by the writers who had some great previous on their cv’s apart from “Real Steel” which drove me demented!.

    Give me more!!!

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