This thrilling epic is a pulse pounding, terrifying entry into the Kong franchise.
The King of all Beasts, Kong has always been portrayed as a misunderstood creature whose size and power aggregate fears among his much smaller, and perhaps inferior cousins on the evolutionary timeline.
Kong: Skull Island, the latest and most visually stunning, entry into the legendary beast’s life, serves as a reminder that this ape is still a massive anti-hero with plenty of power, intelligence, and a ticker made of gold.
In this film our oversized primate is not taking any gruff from non-suppliant tourists who want to explore his uncharted kingdom, and audiences will see just exactly how much damage a skyscraper-tall creature with fists the size boulders can do.
Director Jordan-Vogt Roberts has taken the concept of Kong and set him amid a time in history when America was in the throes of a war they didn’t understand. There is no shortage of subtly in the parable between going to war for whatever reason and killing just to win.
Kong isn’t about to edify any of these things, instead his rampage is a fast paced, and terrifying exploration into humankind trying to kill something they know they can't.
Parables aside, Kong: Skull Island isn’t your grandmother’s creature feature, in fact I’m not sure how the ratings board deemed it PG-13.
There are plenty of terrifying and horrific images in this 120-minute film to appease, Steven Spielberg, Eli Roth and dare I say Francis Ford Coppola combined.
But what a spectacle it is, and non-stop action with glorious effects showstoppers that you will keep you seated despite your upgrade to free popcorn and soft drink refills.
I’m not going to give anything away here because any description of the story would spoil the price of your ticket, but I will describe one of the opening sequences in which a team of helicopters led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) who is not seeking deliverance from a war ended early, but seems eager to start another.
Skull Island is shrouded in an everlasting electrical storm which Packard pushes through in a harrowing rivet-rattling sequence.
After overcoming that natural obstacle, they encounter another; one native to this “lost” island where everything is a million-times bigger: Kong.
The showdown between copter squadron and angry primate whose corporeal presence looms high into the sky is as intense as it is terrifying. Kong gives no regard to the flying machines as he swats them out of the sky like toys.
Roberts and his special effects team have not spared any details, from scale to scope and if you happen to see this film in 3-D, get ready to have your jaw drop several times.
After this attack, the expedition gets separated on different locations of the island, and they are trying to rendezvous in time to be rescued.
Like Alice in a gruesome Wonderland, each group faces their own giant obstacles and with each shocking encounter with the local fauna they dwindle in numbers.
Jackson is a simmering madman here, not as over-the-top as in most of his films. He becomes the Ahab to Kong’s Moby Dick, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get redemption from the damage the ape did to his helicopter squadron.
Kong: Skull Island is a masterwork of special effects and pacing. Genuine jump scares are all a part of the fun and so satisfying are they that you’ll find yourself wincing then cheering.
The “Beauty and the Beast” aspect has been erased from the context, although there is a touching moment involving sexy photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) But it’s more petting zoo than heavy petting.
Where as the original King Kong explored man versus beast, and Jurassic Park was man versus science; Kong: Skull Island treads thoroughly over man versus man versus beast versus man.
Kong: Skull Island takes everything you want in a good summer blockbuster, ratchets up the action and special effects, then shocks you with terrifying curve balls, and pitches it right into your senses.
It’s a Kong movie made well enough that I wanted to do something I hadn’t done in a long time, sit in my seat and watch it all over again.
Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at email@example.com, @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713