Hail the King

2017.38: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

kong1If Lara Croft was a photographer, then she’d look like Brie Larson in Kong: Skull Island. Not that Lara Croft: Tomb Photographer is a likely prospect for a future film/videogame, but its definitely the ‘look’ they were going for.

Kong: Skull Island is immense fun. Its one of my biggest genuine surprises of the year so far- its a film that from the trailers looked pretty lackluster to be honest, so the film didn’t really interest me too much- I gave it a miss at the cinema, as I expected it to be just another cgi snore-fest. Boy, was I wrong.

As it turns out, yes it is a cgi-fest in places but that cgi is very well done, indeed technically audacious and quite imaginatively executed with some thoughtful design choices and while it is a fairly dumb film,  its also great fun. The cast is great, the script witty and the direction has considerable flair. Its a far better film than I expected and really much, much better (and decidedly less calculated/by the numbers) than the recent Jurassic Park reboot.

Kong himself is huge here- I mean, crazily, ridiculously, mentally over-sized, but I suppose its all part of the intentional, over-the-top fun of the whole piece. This Kong is literally Godlike, a gigantic force of nature to finally put puny man in his place. This Kong won’t get beaten by humans in their war planes- this King tosses around helicopters straight from Apocalypse Now as if they are playthings. Its like monster-movie revenge for the 1933 original finale (and that of the 1976 and 2005 remakes); gloriously rewriting the traditional Kong story- I can almost imagine this being a Joe Dante movie, its so like Gremlins in how it has such naughty fun subverting conventions of earlier Kongs. Its glee could only be intensified had it somehow got a Jerry Goldsmith score similar to his riotous Gremlins score.Yeah, a Joe Dante King Kong movie- this is nearly it.

With credentials like that, this film is a must-watch. I can still hardly believe it, and can’t wait to watch it again. If they can keep the creative team together,  the Godzilla vs Kong mooted to follow will be an absolute riot. Hail the King indeed.

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7 thoughts on “Hail the King

  1. Tom

    “Joe Dante’s King Kong.” I love that. It’s an accurate description too. This movie is by turns ridiculously silly and outrageously fun. Characters aren’t important but spectacle is. And actually it’s not totally devoid of character. I loved John C Reilly in this. But then I usually always love what he brings to the table.

    1. Yeah, the casting was pretty much spot-on. Its really weird how this film gets so much right. Its particularly amazing when you consider the fine line it treads between farce and drama. Yet it just works. Wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be one of my favourite films of the year.

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        Hiddleston was terrible though. It’s good his character isn’t more central, otherwise that would have hurt the film a lot more.

        I have a great deal of respect for actors because acting is almost impossibly hard, but when he first turned up and started speaking… I remember thinking to myself ‘Y’know, I think even I could deliver those lines better’.

  2. I mainly bothered to catch it on the big screen because I figured the size of the action would merit it even if the film itself didn’t, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The Joe Dante comparison is a good one because tonally it almost feels like a throwback to an earlier era of blockbuster.

    Despite already having seen it, I picked up the Blu-ray straightaway (I hate being one of those people who likes slipcovers, but… the 3D one has a really nice slipcover) so I’m looking forward to making time for a rewatch soon.

    1. Matthew McKinnon

      I’m picking this up in 4K, and when I can afford a new TV it’s going straight on as the first movie we watch.

      1. I thought my blu-ray was busted the other night (turned out to be a dodgy disc causing the player to need a reboot)- I was immediately contemplating a 4K player to start the inevitable grind towards a 4K TV in a year or two. I really should start thinking about 4K discs but I did that with 3D (buying several 2D/3D editions back when they were just a extra fiver, for the eventuality of one day owning a 3D TV) but look where that’s gotten me- silver coasters I’ve never even watched once as 3D died before I needed a new TV. So I’m understandably cautious.

        Now, if the tv ever goes on the blink, you understand…

  3. Matthew McKinnon

    Same here. I had low expectations, but it came out over my birthday weekend, so we went to see it in awesome Laser IMAX 3D and it was incredible.

    I’m surprised this wasn’t better received just on the strength of its astonishing visuals. It’s a textbook example of what you CAN achieve with CGI if you have some visual imagination.

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