‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review: The Ape King Makes A Gargantuan Return – But Kong Is Not The Only King

If you’ve already watched Kong: Skull Island and you stayed past the end credits, you should be clear on one thing—that Kong is not the only king.  You should also know that the ‘Toho Initiative’ is a go.  That’s just a mere reference to Nick Fury’s (Samuel Jackson) visit to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Marvel Studio’s 2008 film, Iron Man, in which Fury informs Stark that he’s putting together a team of superheroes.  In this case, Kong: Skull Island, is the next chapter of Legendary Picture’s “MonsterVerse,” a new cinematic universe that’s highly anticipated to reach a pinnacle in a Godzilla vs. Kong movie in 2020.

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

Toho Co., Ltd. or Toho Studios—as some may have called it, is a Japanese film, theater production and distribution company which is most famous for the creation of Godzilla.  The infamous fire-breathing, mutated lizard has been featured in 28 of the company’s films.  Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Rodan are described as Toho’s Big Five because of the monsters’ numerous appearances in all three eras of the film property and as well as spin-offs.  As the end of Kong: Skull Island suggests, with Godzilla already established, the other classic monsters are currently in the preliminary stages of being brought into the MonsterVerse, and it’s all going down in the sequel to Godzilla, titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which has a tentative release date of March 22, 2019.  Now, let’s get back to my actual review (possible spoilers ahead) of the current king at hand, shall we?

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

Going to the movies is expensive as hell.  Nowadays, you can easily plunk down $100 for a family of four to see the latest action adventure film, and that doesn’t even include the food from the concession stand.  Maybe I should organize the first “Movie Man March” to protest against skyrocketing movie prices.  I wonder how far I will get with that—anyway, I don’t mind temporarily emptying my wallet when it comes to bringing a smile to a loved one’s face, or in my case, conjuring up the inner child in me.  That’s what Kong: Skull Island did for me, and I found it to be the best film about Kong since the original 1933 classic.

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

The story takes place in 1973, in which the Vietnam War is coming to an end.  In my opinion, this effectively sets the tone for what’s to come later in the film.  The background story felt a bit rushed, but that probably was a good thing—being that the film ran just under 2 hours long.  That also meant that we didn’t have to wait very long for the main protagonist to show up.  This was also one of the few grievances I had with director Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla. Godzilla probably had about 15-20 minutes of screen time in that film, and most old school monster freaks such as myself, have probably found that unacceptable.

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

There were a number of elements and storylines that were similar to the original story from the 1933 film, but at the same time, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts still managed to give Kong: Skull Island a fresh, new perspective.  Things get set in motion when a government-backed group of scientists, led by Bill Randa (John Goodman), who has his eye on a mysterious, uncharted island, and then sends the scientists, accompanied by a military unit on the expedition.  The assisting helicopter squadron is by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel Jackson), in which after a number events occur in the film, the veteran soldier goes into a maniacal quest to kill Kong out of vengeance.  You already know what you’re going to get from Jackson, top-notch acting and some dialogue that’s unfit for a kid’s birthday party.

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

Whenever I watch movies, I tend to look at them from an artistic vantage point.  I really enjoyed how Vogt-Roberts seemingly took full advantage of his locations—real and computer enhanced, to construct a sense of space and atmosphere.  He also dedicated a good amount of time to fleshing out the main characters so that we actually cared what happens to them.  Actress Brie Larson, who was cast as Mason Weaver, the award-winning war photographer, was wonderful in her role.  I also didn’t feel as if she was placed in the film to be a damsel-in-distress type of character; and for the record, I think she’s going to make a fantastic Captain Marvel, in Marvel Studio’s first female-led superhero film, set to debut in 2019.

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

Tom Hiddleston’s role as James Corden was pretty decent.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will always see him as Loki, Marvel’s trickster god.  I was actually waiting for him to double-cross someone and open up a portal, letting in the giant monsters of Toho Studios.  Okay, that’s a bit of a reach, but no matter how many roles great actors ends up with, they will always be defined by that one role.  For example, Wesley Snipes as Blade, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator,  Heath Ledger (RIP) as the Joker from The Dark Knight… you get it, right?

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures/ Warner Bros.

Kong: Skull Island is not quite the perfect film, but at the same time, it’s pure popcorn fun.  It’s why we go to the movies.  You get a Vietnam War flick, a comedy and a throwback creature-feature in one monstrously, entertaining package.  It also had some incredible visual effects, set alongside an amazing soundtrack.  From what I’ve been hearing, King Kong hasn’t finished growing and all I know is that Godzilla better be in elite physical condition before their showdown in 2020.  In case you didn’t catch the film yet, be sure to stick around until after the credits; it’s well worth the wait and guaranteed to bring the kid out of you.  In Kong’s case, I give it a 9 out of 10 bananas.

How does Kong: Skull Island stack up against Godzilla?  Who are you expecting to win in Kong’s inevitable battle with Godzilla?  Which monster are you looking forward to seeing in Legendary Picture’s MonsterVerse?  Sound off in reply section below.  Thanks again for reading!

To my readers, I invite you to join me on Facebook and to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.  You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube.  If necessary, please feel free to reach me by email at:  rgilmore@orangemoonwerks.com. If you find any joy and value in what I do, would you consider providing support to help keep my blog going? Learn how by following the link here: Support the Blog

      Kong: Skull Island Official Trailer:

      A sign of things to come.  In 2020, we shall witness who will be the true king of the monsters:


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