In some ways, the BvS of a new shared universe Kong is a companion to ‘Godzilla’ but peels back on the science and focuses heavily on a taut story extremely well told.
Set in the 70’s days after America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, the film opens stylishly enough with exposition kept to bare bones and setting characters. What we see is an ever-affable John Goodman and his Corey Hawkins confirm the existence of skull island and, through Hawkins conviction, get the budget and build an assortment of characters to help them explore it.
Tom Hiddleston is the most difficult character or actor in a sense as he plays the British tracker with such reserve he rivals Adrien Brody in ‘Predators’ for distancing the audience. Brie Larson’s photo journalist woman is played with pluck aplomb and humour but sadly does little in terms of plot.
It is Sam Jackson and his entourage of soldiers that drives most of the conflict of the movie as soon after encountering KONG, the giant monkey becomes the Moby Dick to his Ahab as he orders and exploits his units’ loyalty to take the King down. The films plot is part revenge tragedy and part escape plan as #TeamTom want off the island while #TeamSam want to search and destroy the great ape.
Largely building from the first act of the original King Kong the film is a refreshing change of pace while showing that classic genre can still be a draw, maybe not through originality but rather just getting it done. Kong deserves to be seen on the big screen as the island, well everything will kill you. And I mean everything! Everything. See that tree, it will kill you, see the Skull crushers, they will kill you, see that bison, it will kill you, see that pigeon, it will kill you. The sense of watching characters having to trek on blades of death over an island is amazing.
I do rate the film highly because while it doesn’t do anything new, just given a 70’s soundtrack and lifting ‘Predator’ ‘Alien’ and film land politics of the era, it does it with such superb craft I could not complain. My own pulp thrills do not excuse the meeting with the native Islanders or the adventures of Brie Larsson’s’ incredible shrinking shirt. Much like one of her previous films ‘The Shallows’ it’s just incredibly well done.
Its visceral in its violence which I applaud as opposed to the roid rage Laser tag of other franchises and ends with a post credit that left me intrigued with the concept of how this world works.
In many ways, this is the Fast and Furious for Genre fans. I can see many contingents having a field day with the antiquated sensibilities in this feature but as a middle-aged man or a certain upbringing they were a mild distraction at best in what was a great return of the KING!