Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
It’s 1973, a team of scientists led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) head into uncharted territory in the Pacific Ocean. Nixon has just called time on the Viet Nam war and army veteran Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) isn’t in a rush to go home. His team are ordered to accompany the scientists and aid in what they are led to believe is investigative bombing to determine the seismic levels of activity at the newly found location. James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former SAS officer, is brought in as a tracker and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to record the expedition in photographs.
The intentions and motives of the scientist are soon brought under close scrutiny when their helicopters are attacked and lives are lost at the very early outset of their exploration. Soon enough they come face to face with Kong and the trip turns into a fight for survival. Kong, however, proves to be the least of their troubles as the island holds many more secrets than just his mighty presence. It’s up to the remaining explorers and army officers to decide how they negotiate their escape or their demise.
Well, what a cast. When you look at it on paper you can see that the cast brought in is more than a match for the size of this blockbuster in terms of its special effects. I only have a few points to make on individuals so here goes:
Samuel L. Jackson, like Hiddleston, is also not offering anything different from his usual loud and commanding performances. That’s a good thing though, it’s always a pleasure to watch him in this kind of over the top mood.
I have no real prior encounters with Brie Larson to speak of and she hasn’t really offered anything special here. I did notice that throughout the film she he only seems two have to facial expressions; shocked and happy. Not awful, just forgettable.
Now, John C. Reilly brings a real warmth and sense of humanity to the role of Hank Marlow. He comes into the movie about half way through and is a welcome change to the wide-spread fear that the other main cast are showing.
Corey Hawkins for me is the stand out performer simply because he offers a complete change from how you would find him as Jack Bauer’s replacement in the currently running 24: Legacy. He shows a real versatility in Kong and there looks to be more to come from him.
A quick word on Toby Kebbell, he plays Chapman a loyal army officer who really just offers solid support but it’s worth mentioning that despite another performer being used in Kong’s motion capture Kebbell also lent his facial skills to some of the more subtle nuances that Kong carried.
Kong: Skull Island is another one of those films I had no real expectations of. In fact, I thought this would actually be terrible based on the early trailers but having seen the cast my interest grew substantially. The film really worked for me. Some of the imagery was absolutely amazing particularly the long shots of Kong as the visitors approached. The effects throughout are at a very high level and although this should never be used as an indicator of a good movie it’s important that any film using these effects keeps the levels consistent. It’s an exciting and pounding film, there’s genuine excitement and a very real feeling of peril from the moment the helicopters leave the boat. The film features a good soundtrack from the era which always helps things along. For adventure, action and escapism long no further than Skull Island.
3.5/5 Stars: No monkey business here, Kong is in charge.