Kong: Skull Island

March 12, 2017 at 11:25 am | Posted in 2017 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

In order for this film to work, you must concede from the start that it’s a comedy. Not a standard set-up & punch line comedy, but a comedy none-the-less. If you can allow for that, I think you’ll enjoy the hell out of this film, as I did. It was such goofy, over-the-top fun from start to finish and it was just so clever on so many levels. This is the first blockbuster film from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”) but he is the right director for this type of film. He’s a very visual filmmaker and has a great eye for finding the humor in the melodramatic: the slo-mo choreography of the choppers, images reflected in aviator sunglasses, perfect 70s vest jackets, the Nixon bobblehead, the list goes on. He had me laughing continually over small, clever details. But he also has an eye for the grand, as well. The visuals of the island and its various creatures were just stunning. This was the most beautiful, fully realized version of Skull Island to have appeared in any King Kong film. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, this film pays homage to multiple other films, but none more humorously than “Apocalypse Now.” Over and over again, it references the film: the boat going down the river, the music blaring from the helicopters, the compound and tribe where they find the “gone native” soldier. The film even names two characters Marlowe ( Martin Sheen’s character in “Apocalypse Now.”) and Conrad (Joseph Conrad was the author of “Heart of Darkness,” upon which the film was based). The theme of descent into the jungle (and therefore madness) is straight out of that film. Even the soundtrack was a clear nod to the heavy 70s soundtrack that was part of what defined “Apocalypse Now.” There were other nice nods to earlier films, particularly other monster movies, like when John Goodman’s character referred to Kong as a “massive unidentified terrestrial organism.” This was a reference to the exact same term used in the 2014 Godzilla movie; it was given as a name (MUTO) for the creature Godzilla fought. Speaking of that film, my chief complaint there was that it went only half-in on the campiness: the monster was full camp but the acting and dialogue were so self-serious. That is not the problem here. Everyone is having fun with the silliness of it all. Nobody behaves in any way remotely realistically and I could care less. That was the main problem with Peter Jackson’s 2005 “King Kong;” it was such a sentimental and loving homage to the original that it lacked any real spark of it’s own. A monster film should not take itself seriously and this one certainly does not. It is ridiculous from start to finish but it should be and I enjoyed every single scene of that ridiculous ride.

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