In the ever growing Monster Universe that Warner Bros. is putting together Godzilla v. Kong nothing seems to be in its way. After a great Godzilla in 2014 Kong Skull Island is just as strong of a movie maybe even stronger.
For such a iconic character the director, Jordan Vogt-Rodgers, took a historic story and put a twist onto it. This time around there is no blonde dame that Kong saves. Well there is but there is less love more respect between the dame and gorilla. What starts out as a plane crash in 1944 with an American and Japanese pilot landing on Skull Island with no clue where they are until Kong finds them.
Switch to 1973 with John Goodman’s character trying his best to get on that island with the American Governments approval and money, which we would later find out is because he was the only survivor of a boat attack by the island when he was younger. Obviously he gets the money and approval therefore the hiring of Samuel L. Jackson’s character a Colonel in the army not ready to quit his job yet after a long career.
During this time Goodman and his sidekick of sorts played by Corey Hawkins search in Vietnam of Hiddleston who is apart a special British forces unit before he became a guide through forests in places just like Skull Island. Hiddleston’s first scene is perhaps the coolest way to introduce a character. By beating two Vietnamese thugs after winning in pool with his pool stick. Other than that he is a level headed guy who knows that it wouldn’t be worth the trip without 10x more money than they offered…smart move after what happens to them.
Larson’s character gets introduced practically last, she is a photographer that wants to show the side of the war that people don’t get to see, the horrible side, so she goes along. She’s even been on the cover of Times magazine.
Finally John C. Reilly’s character, who turns out to be that American pilot from 1944. We find him being inside a village of people who worship Kong as their god. Reilly’s character is probably more important than even Goodman’s as we learn much about the island, Kong, the villagers and the Skullcrushers. Oh and he’s definitely funny as a guy who practically was a time traveler in the group he was in.
Now that you know all the main characters that I think are worth noticing, the actors who played were amazing. First off John Goodman looked as skinny as ever and was great, only he dies 3/4 of the way through which honestly surprised me. It seems like in this movie the people you thought would die didn’t and the people you don’t think die do, but not always. Goodman was good in his role but I honestly kinda just hated him for taking them all to the island in the first place knowing full well what was out there, dick. But hey, without him no movie.
Hiddleston and Larson were badass. I talk about these two together because I feel like they played that same adventurous spirit with level heads throughout the movie. Hiddleston of course with his samurai sword action scene slicing up some weird birds and being the overall leader was just as great as ever. Not as good as Loki of course but Hiddleston is a strong actor and knows how to hold a scene. Larson of course is an Academy Award winner and I thought that it showed here. Being one of two girls in the entire movie would be tough but she acted tougher than most of the men and apparently felt no fear as she took pictures feet away from a raging battle…like normal photographers do obviously.
Samuel L. Jackson’s acting was just as you’d expect, fantastic. He even got to put in his famous “Hold onto your butts” catchphrase from Jurassic Park at which point I almost lost it. What you would expect is that he played the evil man in the man v beast battle like most movies like this have to have. But he gets smashed by Kong’s fist before he can finish the gorilla, so alls well that ends well.
John C. Reilly was his usually crazy self and this role was done well by him. Which is great because once you meet him he doesn’t leave the screen really. The way he pulls in his 1944 mindset in the others’ 1973 mindset the quirks and laughter are pretty great.
The side characters like Hawkins’ character or the army men that Jackson’s character brings along as the escort, some were better than others for sure. I’d have to say that after their at the island for a day or so a few characters take a back seat and don’t seem as important which isn’t unexpected as there were at least a dozen characters, it’d be hard to give them all equal screen time or importance. But that being said the army men are awesome, they bring humor, action, muscle and a bit of heart into the movie as well. While one or two stand above the others in importance they all seemed to have a role.
Like I’ve already said this story, though similar, is quite different from the original King Kong or 2005 version where a blonde saves the gorilla with love and then inadvertently kills him because humans are stupid. Sure a blonde does technically save him but there is no dancing or anything and Hiddleston does a lot of the saving, Larson’s character just isn’t a pushover and actually does things to help like a shoot a flare at a huge monster.
The way Goodman and Hawkins’ characters get the movie started is clever, especially since the company that they seem to be working for is Monarch, a company we saw in Godzilla in 2014. The first easter egg into the fight between Kong and the giant lizard. Once the characters get onto the island shit gets real and the movie flows really well and nothing to me seemed to be to fast or anything. I’d have to see it a second time to make sure though.
Of course though like I’ve said you’ve got to have a human bad guy (Jackson) and a monster bad guy. Jackson’s bad habit of wanting revenge on the beast though cliché probably couldn’t be helped, I mean most leaders would want to keep all their men safe and when that doesn’t happen they probably get angry. There are spoilers in this article but I draw the line that telling you the exact things that happen and how…so go see it.
Oh and by the way don’t forget to stay after the credits…you see more of Monarch and Hiddleston & Larson’s characters being questioned about their trip to Skull Island.
Much unlike in Godzilla we see a ton of Kong. And by ton I mean not too much and not enough because he was awesome. The fights he had between the helicopters and then the Skullcrushers were intense and of course badass, expect to just watch those fights on YouTube over and over again. When we get to see him up close, like when Larson puts her hand on his nose or when Jackson is just feet away from him before being smashed is amazing, the CGI looked so real and not at all overdone either. I also just learned that Toby Kebbell was apparently the guy who did the motion capture for the gorilla so that’s pretty cool, he did a great job.
Things I loved:
- Kong v Skullcrusher-better than Kong v T-Rex’s and honestly might be better than Godzilla v MOTA
- Kong CGI-looked so good, like planet of the apes good
- Hiddleston Samurai moment-of course gotta have the hero with a sword
- Having Hiddleston find the dog tag of a fallen soldier so they can stop looking for him, that was a great way to reveal his death to the characters
- John C. Reilly, time traveler
- Backstory of Kong
- Opening Credits (much like Godzilla)
- Thomas Mann’s character
- Toby Kebbell, wasn’t alive long but I always just love Kebbell
- Side character being pulled into the sky by weird birds and having his arm ripped off
Things I didn’t Love:
- Cliché evil man with huge monster around he should be worrying about
- Cliché soldier sacrificing himself because he was just done, then having his death mean nothing
- Hiddleston and Larson’s random hand holds or hands on shoulders when there was really no romantic connection or anything other than the fact that they realized they were both the level headed one
- Why is Kong always the last gorilla??
- The kid sitting next to me in the theater…he just would not stop asking questions or saying he’s a gorilla not a monkey
Grant Billings is a contributor at Geek Stream HQ, Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @FictionFeed_HQ