Kong: Skull Island is a fun, original monster film and is vastly superior to 2014’s Godzilla.
This re-imagining of King Kong takes place in 1973 during the Vietnam War, focusing on a group of soldiers and scientists exploring an uncharted isle known as ‘Skull Island’. There they discover the great Kong and soon the group are pulled into a vicious battle between Kong and the other inhabitants of the island.
Compared to previous Kong films and monster films in general Skull Island is very unique aesthetically. The Vietnam War setting makes Kong reminiscent of American films made during the period, most notably Apocalypse Now.
What the narrative says in regards to the Vietnam conflict I’m not sure but using the setting for a monster film, with 70s music, fashion and technology makes Kong: Skull Island an original contribution to the monster genre in my view.
The highlight of the film of course is Kong himself. His updated look and design is very menacing, making him appear quite scary at some points.
The other creatures are also well done. I thought the Skull Crawlers were good opponents for Kong physically but visually they reminded me of so many aliens from recent sci-fi films, particularly the creatures from Riddick.
I was more impressed with the crustacean spider creature that impaled people with its legs. It’s an effective design and makes for a pretty intense scene.
The increase in monster action makes Skull Island an obvious improvement compared to Godzilla, however the film is also superior in terms of character.
I thought the characters in Godzilla were way too bland for the screen time they received. Now I’m not saying the characters in Skull Island are completely three-dimensional but they at least fit the basic universal archetypes in storytelling, which makes them a lot more fun and relatable.
James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) are courageous heroes, Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is a brutal villain and Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) is the comic relief.
With an original aesthetic, great monsters and good characters Kong: Skull Island is a solid monster film and I recommend it.
I give Kong: Skull Island a strong 8 out of 10.
UPDATE: It feels like I’ve written this update over a hundred times but sorry for the absence! Uni and Life are once again the culprits. The good news is that I do have some new upcoming content planned, including another article for MoviePilot and some videos.
Hope everyone’s having a good 2017 so far!