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Kong: Skull Island

Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Writer

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Buckle up your seat belts because you are in for a riveting ride. Kong: Skull Island is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ latest release. The film is a reboot of the King Kong franchise. Kong serves as the second film of Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse. It stars an ensemble cast consisting of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Lawson, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Wingham, Thomas Mann, Jing Tian and John C. Reilly.

The plot centers around Skull Island, a land of myths located in the South Pacific, and its rather large inhabitants. The year is 1973, during the last years of the Vietnam War. As soldiers in Vietnam prepare to ship back home, a troop (Jackson, Mitchell, Wingham, Mann), a mercenary (Hiddleston), and an anti-war photographer (Lawson) are requested to act as a protective detail for a group of researchers (Goodman, Hawkins, and Tian). Following a stormy entrance into Skull Island, the group, by helicopter, begins to conduct their field research, however, the way the participants conduct the research is unusual. To get a reading on what lies beneath the island’s surface, the group tosses napalm pineapple like objects over the side of the helicopter. Like their inspiration, the objects explode upon impact.

Their clamorous presence catches the attention of a king-sized primate. Yes, your guess is correct. Out of nowhere, Kong comes in and demolishes the fleet. The survivors (actors mentioned above), are now scattered in different locations, and must now regroup and venture to the northern part of the island. A ship is destined to arrive within three days’ time, and is the survivors only chance to escape the island. In unfamiliar territory, the remaining members of the group are at the mercy of its habitants. Kong is not Skull Island’s only massive occupant. There are many terrifying, but also gentle, creatures of immense stature. As the stragglers continue their daring journey, viewers witness many frightening and somewhat off putting scenes, and an unexpected meeting with a marooned WW2 fighter pilot (Reilly).

This reboot stands out against its predecessors because of its plot. Kong diverges from the typical King Kong plot. Yes, there are a group of men, and in this case, two women (Surprised?), exploring an unchartered island. No, they aren’t there to shoot a film, they are strictly there to research the island. Yes, there are characters who have a vendetta against Kong (Goodman and Jackson), but everyone else is trying to reach safety.

The landscape in Kong is breathtaking, but since it was filmed in Hawaii, how could it not be. The film’s special effects are also incredible. Unfortunately, many special effects in the previous King Kong films were victims of their time, so I feel almost guilty glorifying the effects in Kong. Almost all the films made today feature computer graphics, but sometimes it’s very clear that the images were CGs. This is not the case with Kong, for a split second, you might think these things exist. They are very realistic compared to the predecessors of the King Kong franchise.

What I appreciate most about Kong is that it focuses more on action and the need for survival as opposed to the typical relationship between King Kong and the group’s token female. If you have watched one of the King Kong films, you’ll know that Kong usually becomes infatuated with the female, and inevitably kidnaps her. The two form a bond, but then she is ripped away from Kong by the men searching for her. This inspires Kong to try and retrieve her and of course, get caught in the process and hauled to New York. You know what happens next… the Empire State Building happens next. This is not that story. The relationship between Kong and Lawson’s character is platonic.
Overall, if you are a fan of King Kong, or a fan of fantasy action films, I highly recommend watching this film. The acting in the film does not hinder the experience; for the most part, each actor helps move the film’s plot along, offering many likeable, and unlikeable, characters. Although the film features A-list celebrities like Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly’s performance in Kong deserves the highest praise. While he is known for his lighthearted demeanor, he succeeded in portraying a despondent man. For those who have watched the films in the franchise, Kong will not spoil the others. Instead, it will provide a new, or refreshing, perspective on the story of King Kong.

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Kong: Skull Island