The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) *** ½

Kong: Skull Island is the best Vietnam Allegory by way of a Giant Monster Movie I’ve ever seen. At first, the idea of putting King Kong into what essentially is a war movie seems a bit odd. However, it makes perfect sense if you think about it. Instead of fighting the Cong, our soldiers are fighting KONG!

That’s right folks, we’re talking Full Monkey Jacket here. Bananaburger Hill. Apepocalypse Now.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wears his inspiration on his sleeve, just like Gareth Edwards did when he made the new Godzilla movie. Whereas Edwards was making a Godzilla flick as an homage to Spielberg, Vogt-Roberts is doing a clear riff on Francis Ford Coppola. That isn’t to say the film is completely devoid of Spielberg-isms. I dare you not to smile when Samuel L. Jackson does his little callback to Jurassic Park.

Speaking of Jackson and homages, I also like how his character was influenced by some of the great movie characters of all time. You can definitely see a little bit of Gregory Peck’s Captain Ahab as he single-mindedly tries to take down a giant animal. The character he’s most like though is Sarge, the character played by The Rock in Doom as he goes from being a badass to bad guy.

Unlike Edwards’ Godzilla, there is no teasing of the monster’s appearance. Once the team of soldiers arrives on the island, Kong makes short work of their helicopters. The way he swats them from out of the sky is glorious. It’s some of the finest monster mashing mayhem of the 21st century.

From then on, the movie becomes a tale of survival. The soldiers have to regroup and trek from Point A to Point B through a dangerous landscape, all the while avoiding being eaten, stepped on, or squashed by giant monsters. The monsters are pretty cool too. I liked the giant spider scene a lot. The “skull crawlers” that are Kong’s main competition are a little weak, but as with the MUTOs from Godzilla, they’re pretty much there as a punching bag for our star monster. No matter, because the scene in which Kong does battle with a giant squid is worth the price of admission. I don’t know if the scene where he eats the squid raw was a nod to Oldboy or not. I’d like to think so.

The whole “Beauty and the Beast” stuff is kept to a minimum. That’s mostly because Brie Larson isn’t your typical damsel in distress. She’s a combat photographer. Her interaction with Kong is limited, but their big scene together is rather special. It’s more like the dinosaur meeting scenes in Jurassic Park where you can have a quiet moment to ponder the wonder of a giant monster that doesn’t want to eat you.

Unfortunately, they never really find much for Tom Hiddleston to do. He gets a great introduction scene where he lists the various ways people can die on an uncharted island and we hear a lot about his legendary combat skills. Then, once they’re on the island, he basically just acts as tour guide.

The film itself is patchy in places. It’s a given that the human scenes aren’t going to be as good as the stuff with the monsters. There are also more scenes of people walking from place to place than in any given Lord of the Rings movie. The good news is that when the monsters are mashing, it’s damn good times and that’s the only thing that matters.

Let’s go back to the Vietnam allegory for a second. I was only half-joking about how silly the idea of making a monster movie as metaphor for Vietnam is. It actually sort of works though. I mean, we take it for granted that the original Godzilla is a metaphor for the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan. Godzilla’s rampage is meant as a symbol for the destruction of Japan. Here, American troops are stuck in a jungle fighting a war they can’t win. The only difference is that they can clearly see their enemy because he’s a hundred feet tall.

I don’t think this is quite as good as Edwards’ Godzilla movie. It is the best King Kong flick since King Kong vs. Godzilla, so that alone is cause for celebration. I’d recommend seeing it on the biggest screen possible that had the loudest sound system to get the full effect. I’d also say to check out the 3-D version because there are tons of stuff that come out at the screen, including:

• 3-D Gun (multiple)

• 3-D Brie Larson

• 3-D Bomb (multiple)

• 3-D Shrapnel

• 3-D Helicopter

• 3-D Antenna

• 3-D Hand

• 3-D Hat

• 3-D Spears (multiple)

• 3-D Sword

• 3-D Skull Crawler

• 3-D Lighter

AKA: King Kong: Giant from Skull Island.

Tags: horror, in 3-d, k, king kong movies, samuel l. jackson

  • THE KILLER INSIDE ME (1976) ** ½

    Burt Kennedy directed this workmanlike adaptation of Jim Thompson’s classic novel. It sure does take its sweet time getting going, but it does…

  • BLAIR WITCH (2016) ½ *

    You all are complaining you lost an hour because of the time change. Amateurs. I watched Blair Witch and lost ninety minutes. I guess you all…

  • WOMEN OF SAN QUENTIN (1983) ***

    Most horror fans know Amy Steel as the feisty Final Girl Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2. Two years after leaving an impression on moviegoers,…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened