Kong: Skull Island tells the story of a dyslexic graffiti artist recovering from heroin addiction that falls in love with a barista and must decide between love and art. Just kidding! Kong: Skull Island is about a giant monkey smashing just about everything that moves. No spoilers there; we all know the gist of Kong mythology. After discovering Skull Island, an exploratory team traveling under the guise of scientific research give us a parade route for awesome monsters.
Good Morning Vietnam!
If somehow you missed the Creedence Clearwater Revival soundtrack playing in the background, bell bottoms flaring, grainy photographs rolling across the screen and anti-war protesters mobbing Congress, our setting is Vietnam. Employing every tactic short of screaming ‘VIETNAM!’ at the audience, like Robin Williams, film makers leave no question about the timeline. Sure, it’s heavy handed, but Vietnam is an ideal setting to question military action – whether it’s war against another nation or war against a humongous Curious George.
Tom Hiddleston is probably best know as the loathsome Loki but has a chance to play the hero in Kong: Skull Island. Hiddleston is our tracker, responsible for orienting the group safely through the jungle. He carries a dignified weight in the role and makes it easy to forget his notorious role as Loki.
The hero has to have someone to flirt with; cue Brie Larson as the anti-war photographer. This romance never takes off and, what’s worse, Room‘s star is not given an opportunity to develop her character in any meaningful way. If you haven’t seen Room, Brie Larson is an extraordinary talent! In Kong she’s two dimensional, anti-war drivel embodied and reduced to love bait for Hiddleston. What a missed opportunity!
Every intense action flick cuts the tension with comedic relief. John C. Reilly appears like he wandered off the set of Step Brothers. It’s a bit odd, but good for a couple laughs. You forget for a moment that everything on the island is trying to kill you.
Last, but certainly not least is Kong – the main event! We have to acknowledge the small army of animators responsible for the breathtaking images. The visual effects are stunning and earned an Oscar nomination. Vibrant, colorfully rendered beasts and scenery steal the show! This film is at its best when CGI is center stage.
If you’re looking for a fun action movie, this is it. An impressive flow of monsters flood the screen and gives your eyes a feast. The cast does just enough to secure an emotional connection and prevent this flick from sliding into mindless monster mayhem. You will care if they live or die on Skull Island. I say GO APE with Kong: Skull Island!