Since he first appeared on the big screen back in 1933, King Kong has been a popular draw for movie fans. His various cinema adventures have been depicted in films such as “King Kong Lives” from 1986 to the more recent 2005 release “King Kong”, directed by Peter Jackson. The great ape even battled his rival Godzilla in the 1962 release “King Kong vs. Godzilla”, which will be remade for a new generation.
The latest adventure of Kong comes to theaters in the form of “Kong: Skull Island”, and in this story our hairy hero never leaves his island. The film begins in 1944 during World War II, when two fighter pilots, one American and one Japanese, crash on an island in the South Pacific, which unknown to them, is the home of an enormous ape-like creature, which they encounter during a fight. The story then flash forwards to 1973 where we meet British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) who has been hired by U.S. government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman), to lead an expedition to the mysterious and avoided island known as Skull Island. This all came about due to images from a satellite showing a large mysterious creature inhabiting the island, and Randa is determined to find and study said creature. Randa has also recruited a Vietnam helicopter squadron, known as the Sky Devils to take his group to the island. The squadron is led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson!), and he must endure the presence of pacifist photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who is determined to prove the mission is military with dark purposes.
The group is also joined by a biologist and a geologist for good measure. Shortly after the group crosses through the dangerous cloud bank surrounding Skull Island, they begin dropping explosives to determine if the ground is hollow. Of course, all the explosions do is attract Kong, and he is soon on the scene smashing helicopters and making the ultimate impression on the shocked group. The groups become separated, and several of them cross paths with the local natives, who worship Kong as their protector from the various nasty creatures on the island, and when I say nasty, I mean nightmarish. The group discover Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) with the natives, who happens to be the American solider who crashed on the island 28 years ago. Hank is extremely happy to see the unexpected visitors and devises a way for them all to escape, but not before Colonel Packard plans vengeance on Kong for causing the death of many of his troops. Hank, and several of the others, attempt to convince Packard that Kong was only defending his home and should be left alone. Unfortunately, Packard is bend on taking down Kong, and devises a plan that results in a surprising encounter that leads to the awakening of a horrific creature that lives beneath the island.
In the end Kong is proved to be a hero thanks to his defending some of the humans, including Mason, against the underground dwelling dinosaur-like creatures. The film proved to be far better than I expected, and is an intelligent monster movie. Of course, let’s admit we really want to see this film because one of our favorite movie monsters of all time is back on the big screen, and is gloriously presented in the film technology of 2017. Kong has never seemed more fierce, and yet you feel an almost immediate love for him, as the king of the island is out to defend his home, and may one day defend mankind against other creatures. Speaking of other creatures, you MUST stay in your seat until the final credits roll for an awesome final scene, that sets the stage for the upcoming battle between Kong and Godzilla. Even though Jackson is able to stare down Kong several times during the film, we all know who the real King is. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”) has fashioned a superb monster movie with “Kong: Skull Island”, giving movie fans a thrilling and fun cinematic ride.
(Rated PG-13): 4 Kongs (out of 4)