Growing up, some of the early films that captured my attention were monster movies. These larger than life characters had an interesting backstory but somehow were always tragically flawed. Despite that fact, I always seemed to root for the monster as the townsfolk came to seek vengeance.
One of my favorite monsters, King Kong, has made it back to the silver screen in the new, exciting film, “Kong: Skull Island.” Filmmakers have done the gorilla and audiences proud with a story that is every bit thrilling as it unfolds.
The story starts just as the war in Vietnam is coming to an end and centers on a pair of scientist on the verge of an earth-shattering discovery. To capitalize on this potential development, they lobby their congressman for funding.
The funding would be used to map and chart an unknown island known as Skull Island. They tell the congressman the resources on this island are vast and could be used for anything such as creating a cure for cancer to being a source of new alternative fuel.
With the approval granted, the team of scientists is given a military escort to help in their mission of discovery due to the risks and potential for dangerous situations. Up until this time, the island has not been explored due to a powerful storm system that surrounds it, which keeps any possible explorer away.
As soon as the team’s fleet of helicopters passes through the storm system, they find an island that is truly beautiful. When they begin their work using seismic charges, Kong appears and starts attacking the helicopters. After Kong obliterates the majority of the group, the survivors are left to search for a way home. While the danger posed by Kong is gone, other unknowns will surface during their trek through the jungle to safety.
"Kong: Skull Island" drew me in from the first few frames. The film has a good balance of action, storytelling and character development to draw the audience in but keeps their attention to what is happening on the screen.
"Kong" has some great characters that hold the audience’s attention. One such character is Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Packard has a deep connection with the men he leads, but that connection is his downfall. He becomes obsessed with Kong. This is shown when Packard states that, “It's time to show Kong that man is king!”
The other element “Kong” employs is humor. The character that provides this to the film is Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly). Marlow is a World War II fighter pilot who was shot down and landed on the island in 1944. When the group decides to enter an area that Marlow said should be avoided he replies “I’ve only been here 28 years what do I know?”
Monster movies are not just about mindless destruction — there has to be a point to the damage. Questions like, “Why is Kong throwing a palm tree at the helicopter” or “Why does Kong seem deeply troubled” have to be answered. The writers and the directors do a great job in providing the audience with those answers.
Without those questions answered, all you have in a string of special effects and a lot of action scenes without context. That approach is similar to what the writer and directors of the “Fast and Furious” franchise do when they create a “movie.”
"Kong," by most people, is seen as this brutish ape, but his anger stems from the loss of his family, his responsibility as the island protector and the stress that accompanies it.
Audiences were first introduced to the character of King Kong in the 1933 film “King Kong.” According to Internet Movie Database website, Kong’s popularity has grown with eight feature films and several animated films. While some of these films are good and others are comically bad, “Kong: Skull Island” is one I highly recommend to you see before it leaves theaters. If you wait till it comes out to rent you will miss some of the magic that the theater provides. Kong’s presence on the big screen will be significantly diminished by viewing it for the first time on the television in the living room.
I give “Kong: Skull Island four mustaches out of five.
This movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language and runs 118 minutes.
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