Sunday, April 1, 2018

Movie #451: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is a monster movie starring Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, and just, like, so many people.

In the waning years of the Viet Nam war, government researcher/kook Bill Randa (Goodman) and Hollow Earth Theory advocate Brookes (Hawkins) manage to finagle a military escort to Skull Island, ostensibly to map it before the Russians do, but mostly because they're searching for monsters (Randa was on a ship destroyed by a giant monster and it's become his obsession). They wind up accompanied by Packard (Jackson), the Army fella in charge of the mess, a former SAS tracker named Conrade (Hiddleston) and an anti-war photojournalist who figures something bigger is up (Larson). The helicopter to the island and immediately get fucking rocked by Kong (Kebbell, who also plays one of the soldiers), and wind up slowing losing members to the various monsters on the island until they find Marlow (Reilly), who's been stuck here since WWII.

So, the idea here is to make a shared universe (yes, another one), but this one might actually work because the filmmakers seem to have taken Marvel's lesson to heart. To wit, you can't make the movies about the shared universe, you have to make us care about the movies within that universe. Kong is a monster movie, sure, but it takes its time with the characters, intersperse the kick-ass action and death with some honest development (Reilly, Jackson, and Hiddleston in particular, but the subtle growing attraction between Hawkins' Brookes and Jing's San is also sweet). And, of course, the special effects are remarkable (hence the Visual Effects Oscar nom).

Now, Godzilla is the first movie in the "monsterverse" and I haven't seen that one, but I hear good things. Doing Kong as a period piece makes it kinda like the Captain America of this universe, except that it's establishing some of the necessary backstory, which I think is cool. Generally, Kong is well done, well-scripted, and a lot of fun to watch. If I have a complaint, it's that I could have used more of Larson's Weaver, and I hope we see something of her in other monsterverse movies.

My Grade: A
Rewatch Value: High

Next up: The Mummy