Film Review: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is tremendous fun. Despite some poor dialogue, the film is a great addition to the monster movie genre.

In 1971, a team of explorers want to take an expedition to a hitherto uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. The scientists are joined by a unit of soldiers fresh from action in Vietnam. Known as Skull Island, the group have no idea what is in store…

Kong: Skull Island is essentially monster movie meets Apocalypse Now; there are even some distinct references to 1979 film. The film combines aspects of the war genre, with those of the monster movie. The result is a very entertaining spectacle. Set at the end of the Vietnam War, the spectre of the conflict casts a strong shadow. In addition to visual elements, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ film draws strong parallels with the Coppola classic. The film takes cues from Apocalypse Now, particularly with hostile environment and effect that this has on some of the characters.

Kong: Skull Island distinguishes itself from previous King Kong films in two ways. Firstly, the film has the aforementioned conventions of a war movie. Secondly, the title character doesn’t hold quite the same role as in previous incarnation. Whilst always a tragic monster, this version does something different with the beast.

The first quarter of the film sets up what is to follow, in terms of setting up the expedition and bringing together the characters. With several characters taking a role on the trip, it is unsurprising that these characters are quickly established using archetypes. The dialogue is sometimes lacking, but this does not draw away from overall enjoyment. The main focus is on action and spectacle, and here the film delivers. There are some great set pieces, and little let up on the tension in the final third. Visual effects are great, and 3D is used well to add to the spectacle. Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman are reliably solid. Tom Hiddleston does not quite fit the bill of his character, whilst John C. Reilly injects some much needed levity.

Kong: Skull Island offers wonderful spectacle and great amusement. A must-see for monster movie fans.

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