There is something old-fashioned and fun about Kong: Skull Island. From the outset it knows what it is supposed to be: entertaining. It never takes itself too seriously, has some great characters and best of all, some really cool action, with creative monsters to help support it.
From the opening it is clear the movie knows it’s biggest strength. It is action from the off but a battle between a Japanese and American fighter pilot is soon interrupted by the main event and Kong has never been better.
That is why the movie doesn’t waste time in getting the principal characters to the island and like any good, classic monster-movie, all the different but typical types of characters are present. John Goodman’s misguided adventurer, Samuel L Jackson’s bloodthirsty general, Brie Larson’s love interest/damsel-in-distress, John C Reilly’s comic relief and strangest of all, Tom Hiddleston’s action-hero. The cast is impressive, all play their roles well and clearly are having a good time as they run, jump and scream their way through the movie.
Really that is what the film is about, the monsters on the island. Skull Island doesn’t disappoint and is full of a range of creative and scary creatures. From giant spiders to angry lizard-type monsters, the film always has something new and can be relentless in the different set-pieces and moments which the characters find themselves in.
The main attraction is Kong himself though and rather than hold-off and tease the monster, Skull Island places him front and centre. He is well realised in the movie and clearly a character in his own right; even getting quieter moments which really show you the often heroic nature of the giant ape. He gets some great set-pieces too, be it a battle with an army of helicopters or better yet, any number of times he fights off the other giant monsters on the island.
There is no getting away from the fact that this is a prequel though and clearly not a “King Kong” movie. Anyone looking for a monkey climbing the Empire State Building will be disappointed and at times you could fault the film for being a generic monster movie with little identity. There are flashes of the King Kong that will terrorise New York, particularly when the creature interacts with Brie Larson, but this is much more about the humans running and screaming than Kong roaring and beating his chest.
If you’re happy to overlook this though, there is a great movie underneath. It feels slightly old-fashioned and has definitely been done before (see any Jurassic Park movie) but there is something very fun and very cool about this film that if you let it, will definitely entertain you.
Overall, Kong: Skull Island shows there is life in old monsters yet. It takes some of the tried, tested and classic tropes of the monster movies and rehashes them in a modern update but this makes for an exciting, well-acted and very entertaining movie. Also add one of movies coolest monsters and you can’t really fault it.
Rating – 4
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