Kong: Skull Island – movie review

Since I’m back to working nights I decided to go out to a movie to kill some of the vacant time on my nights off. My choice was Kong: Skull Island. After seeing the trailer a few months ago, I was surprised that a remake had managed to snag so many talented actors. That must be a good sign, right? It was encouraging to also know that the story was reworked. There is no capture and trip back to civilization for Kong and you won’t see him swatting at airplanes from the top of the Empire state building. The story reappears fresh as it’s set after the end of the Vietnam War.

John Goodman (as Bill Randa) finagles funding for a trip to Skull Island. After his own experiences as a lone survivor of a shipwreck, he is intent on proving that monsters exist. Goodman is a good guy to call when you need a conspiracy theorist. He’s able to portray someone that honest believes and yet knows he sounds a little crazy. At one point Goodman has a stare down with Samuel L. Jackson, a great moment between veteran actors weighted heavily in subtleness.

Samuel L. Jackson as Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard along with his helicopter unit is acquired as a military chaperone for the research group. It took me a while to realize just how much the war isn’t over for Packard. I think a small scene to really express how Jackson is walking the line of going off the deep end. You’ll probably have heard about the nod to Jurassic Park by now as Jackson repeats the memorable line, “Hold on to your butts.”

I also have to applaud Brie Larson’s character, Mason Weaver. As a war photographer she was a strong female without weakness. (Not to mention she wasn’t running around a dinosaur park in nude heels…) No wilting flower here. I really appreciate that. I also appreciated that there wasn’t any romance either. I’d like to think there was mutual respect between her character and Hiddleston’s, but none of that lovey dovey crap. As if we have time when we’re running for our lives from skull crawlers. There is one moonlight, Kong encounter scene that also reminded me of a scene in the original Jurassic park. I suppose that could have been romantic if they weren’t more concerned with staying alive.

And that brings me to Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad…a nod to Joseph Conrad and the Heart of Darkness perhaps?), some random English mercenary that’s really good at wilderness tracking, not that they depend on those skills as much as I think they should have. He spends most of the trip trotting around in provocatively tight t-shirts. They don’t really explain who he is except that is father died fighting Nazis. Who knows what he’s been doing with his life since then except play pool in seedy bars. However, he’s the only one that says from the get go, “Yeah, you shouldn’t go to a mysterious island.” (quote paraphrased)

John C. Reilly plays fighter pilot, Hank Marlow, that crashed on the island during World War II and he was pretty much the best character in this movie, hands down. He delivers the best laughs and is the best asset for the survivors to get off the island. Of course, it was a little hard to believe that they got that ramshackle boat running so quickly, but they did.

My only other complaints were the faltering American accent of Toby Kebbell, but I’ll let it go, because at least he’s nice to look at. It’s better to be an Englishman that biffs a southern accent occasionally throughout a sentence, than an American with a bad English accent. My other complaint would be the sound track. It was mainly every song that’s used in every movie that has anything to do with the Vietnam war era to the point of cliché.

If you can look beyond my small complaints then it was an enjoyable movie with action, plenty of explosions and strange creatures.


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