Hey, pal. Hey, wake up. Heroes don’t look like me – not in the real world. In the real world they got bad teeth, a bald spot, and a beer gut. I’m just an actor with a gun who’s lost his motivation. Be seeing you. – Kyle Chandler as “Bruce Baxter” in the 2005 film King Kong
The original King Kong movie was released in 1933 and was a huge success. Including the two Kong films made in Japan, there have been six more films featuring the gigantic ape since the original. Now comes Kong: Skull Island which is a new spin on the old tale.
During World War II, an American pilot named “Hank Marlow” (John C. Reilly – Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Lobster) and a Japanese pilot (Miyavi) battle in the air, resulting in both men being forced to parachute onto an island in the Pacific. There the battle continues until Kong arrives.
Three decades later the Vietnam War is winding down and “Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard” (Samuel L. Jackson – Snakes on a Plane) is pondering his post-war future. He’s been in command of a squadron of helicopters and is unsure what awaits. Meanwhile, “Bill Randa” (John Goodman) is in Washington, D.C. seeking funding for a “Hail Mary” project for his Monarch organization. He convinces “Senator Willis” (Richard Jenkins) to fund an expedition to Skull Island. It was only a legend, hidden by never-ending storms until being recently discovered by radar.
Randa hires a former British Special Air Service operative named”James Conrad” (Tom Hiddleston – The Avengers) to guide the mission to Skull Island. Security will be provided by Lt Col Packard’s helicopter squadron, the Sky Devils. A renowned photojournalist “Mason Weaver” (Brie Larson – The Spectacular Now) comes along for the ride, convinced there is something nefarious going on. Also on the mission is “Houston Brooks” (Corey Hawkins – Straight Outta Compton), an expert in seismology. He came up with the plan to use carefully crafted bombs to be dropped on the island to chart the island as well as drive any underground residents to the surface.
The problem with this plan is that it enrages Kong and he proceeds to swat the various copters flown by the Sky Devils like they were tiny insects. Soon all of the choppers are down and the survivors in extreme peril. Some of them hope to make their way to the rendezvous point where a resupply mission is scheduled in just a few days. But Lt Col Packard insists on setting out to find his second in command, “Major Jack Chapman” (Toby Kebbell – RocknRolla).
Kong is not the only threat on the island, as the survivors soon discover. They meet giant spiders, an enormous squid and others, including the biggest threat of all, the monsters that Marlow dubbed “Skullcrawlers.” The reason that Kong is the last of his kind is that the Skullcrawlers killed off the other gigantic apes.
With such titanic terrors facing the survivors and their drive to survive, not much more is needed in the way of story. That’s a good thing since there isn’t really much of one. Of the various incarnations we’ve seen on the screen of Skull Island, this is the best from a visual perspective. Considering the advances in technology since 1933 it isn’t a fair point of contention but that doesn’t change the fact. This is stunning to look at.