Kong: Skull Island – Review

Jordan Vogt-Roberts has delivered a right crowd pleaser here – and perhaps surprisingly it’s a little deeper than your average monster movie blockbuster.

Beginning with a prologue set in World War II and then showing us newsreel footage of technical advancements made in the world in the immediate aftermath- the story opens up in 1977 as the Vietnam War comes to its end.

Government Agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) gets funding to lead an expedition to the mysterious “Skull Island”. He manages to wrangle himself an Army platoon to escort him in by helicopter – and hires Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a tracker to further help in the mission.  Also joining them is photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).

Samuel L Jackson is Colonel Preston Packard – leader of the platoon. Disillusioned at having to abandon the war in Vietnam – he wants a victory of some kind for his men and himself. He thinks he may have found it:

On arrival at the island they set off seismic charges which angers King Kong – a giant ape which rules the island and is worshipped by it’s indigenous tribe.

Looking to defend his land he attacks the helicopters causing the team to get split up.

Conrad and Weaver meet the local tribe and find Lt Hank Marlow (John C Reilly) a pilot who crashed there many years before. He tells them that Kong is not actually evil. The real threat is a race of disgusting reptilian creatures who live under the surface.

Whilst this is going on – Packard and his men plan to take the fight back to Kong – unaware that he’s not the real enemy.

The first act is little rushed and the exposition a little clunky at times – but Kong: Skull Island is rollicking entertainment. Fantastic action scenes, great special effects – all with a surprisingly political undercurrent. This film is really about the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Preston’s obsession with destroying Kong works as a metaphor for that tragic conflict. It really adds some substance to the movie and it really works.

Even though it’s obviously first and foremost a reboot of the King Kong franchise it takes time to reference many other classic movies. There are nods to Hell In The Pacific, Apocalypse Now and there’s a touch of Indiana Jones to Hiddleston’s Conrad.

Also – note how Hiddleston’s character is called “Conrad”. Apocalypse Now is based on the book Hearts Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I doubt that was an accident!

Lots of giant beasties roam this island. The CGI here is almost photo-real. The lizards are disgusting, frightening and responsible for one of the best jump scares I’ve seen in a movie for a long time. The giant spider is freaky. 

The star is Kong himself. Beautifully rendered and used sparingly – he is a standout creation. Terrifying when he’s angry, sympathetic in his quieter moments – he’s more a character than a special effect.

With a brief run time of just under two hours – Kong: Skull Island is great entertainment. The blockbuster season starts here!


And stick around till after the credits. Seems that everybody’s doing shared universes these days!

The Man Who Saved Movies 

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  • King Deceased

    Really fun movie. Slightly annoyed that the end credits bit is spoiled by the credits scroll just seconds beforehand.

    • Dee-abolik

      Courtesy of…

    • Hah! Yeah, I did actually notice that! You’re right – VERY fun movie! I was pleasantly surprised. Let’s face it – we all expect stuff like this to be shit now don’t we?

      Nah man. LOVED it!

  • Dee-abolik

    I enjoyed it, the big bad was probably a little too generic, but otherwise good fun. Looked like a comic book come to life in vivid colours. Did not care for the post credits scene, because (Spoiler) those movies were already announced and it felt cheap and improvised.

    • Yeah. I knew it was coming too. It’s no secret that this is part of a shared universe.

      • Dee-abolik

        I think post credit sequences have to step up their game. The reveal alone is not enough anymore. Or at least they could think of new ways to present it, something more clever.

        • Pfft. I say don’t bother. Either put it at the end before the credits or just leave it. When the credits are rolling is the time when I need a piss the most.

          • Dee-abolik

            True enough. I don’t believe in the philosophy to stay in the seat during the credits for a while to “let the movie sink in”.

          • Mind you, if its a crowded screening, I might stick around for a while to let the crowds die down a bit

    • President of what?

      Point taken.

  • President of what?

    “This film is really about the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Preston’s obsession with destroying Kong works as a metaphor for that tragic conflict. It really adds some substance to the movie and it really works.”
    I’m a sucker for political allegories and social commentaries in science fiction/horror films because it mirrors the real world without becoming overtly ham-fisted for the most part.Sam is in everything so I’m sure he gave a good if not all too familiar performance. I could see the “post credits” coming a mile away ergo, I don’t feel as if I ran into spoiler territory. Kong will be the next thing on my list if not Ghost in The Shell but regardless, I’m looking forward to both! Hiddleston, IMO is a great actor and I rate his Loki over Ledger’s Joker. (Yeah, yeah “Booooooo”! LOL) He stood out among the ensemble cast of The Avengers, well actually it’s both him and RDJ as Iron Man. If i had my way Hiddleston would’ve been picked as the next 007.
    Shit, if MGM/Sony could choose Craig, why not “Tommy”? That being said, Night Manager was “Zzzzzzzzzzzz”.
    Kong is the only film as of yet where I can see “Nick Fury”, “Loki” and “Captain Marvel” at the same time. Unless of course, The Infinity War.

    • The Magic Hunter

      I agree about HiddleBond, but I think he blew the producers’ PR does-he-have-gravitas test with his fluffy Taylor Swift fling.

      • Pfft, Idris Elba for Bond all the way!

        • The Magic Hunter

          Yeah, he’s got my vote again, after Hiddleswift.

      • President of what?

        He shouldve known better to avoid that chick who had more hands up in her than a puppet!

  • The Magic Hunter

    Sounds good! I’ll probably sneak into a matinee next week, while the kids are in school.

    I’m surprised you didn’t go with this for a headline: “Keep Kong and Carry On.” ?

  • jackcolton

    I probably won’t catch this in cinema as I’m not hugely interested in this. I’m sure it’s a decent film though as it seems to be getting favourable reviews and your own review further clarifies that.

    I’ve been watching Peter Jacksons King Kong ALOT recently as my 5 year old daughter keeps wanting to watch it. The effects in that still hold up very well, apart from that awful dinosaur stampede scene. there’s also that ridiculous scene where Jamie Bell is firing bugs off Adrien Brody with a machine gun, and Adrien Brody is fine with that and doesn’t get shot despite the bugs moving fast all over him.
    It’s still quite moving in places, there’s some great, albeit over the top, t rex’s vs kong action and, you know, Kong ice skates.

    • I love Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Don’t hear much about it these days do we?

      • jackcolton

        not much no. I don’t think its held in the same regard as, say his Rings trilogy. On first viewing I thought it was brilliant but that opinion has lessened a bit. its still a strong movie though.

      • I thought it was ok but it is ridiculously self-indulgent of Peter Jackson. The time we spend before we get to Kong’s island is mind-numbingly long, and the editing is completely mastubatory. It needs about 45 minutes to an hour cut from it.

        • Nah man. I liked the epic sweeping nature of it. Occasionally I like a nice long fantasy I can lose myself in. Besides – that’s what Jackson does isn’t it?

          • All true, but 4-second closeups of Jamie Bell reacting to fog and monsters is a bit much. :/

          • Well -yeah. We could all do without that. But a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

  • Intrigued by the period detail of this film more than anything, but I don’t care much for Kong; especially as he seems to get bigger. If it were a war movie with the same cast it’d probably be higher on my watch list.

  • I plan to see this on either Netflix or cable, whichever comes first. I like Kong but I’m not a huge fan. Good review, brother man!

    • Thanks Dude. I’d say that this is worth a trip to the cinema. Gotta see Kong on the big screen man!