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Movie Reviews

Posted at: Mar 10, 2017, 6:39 PM; last updated: Mar 10, 2017, 8:10 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW - KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Beastly, not ghastly


Film: Kong: Skull Island

  • Cast: Samuel Jackson, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston,John Goodman, Tian Jing
  • Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Beastly, not ghastly
A still from Kong: Skull Island

Johnson Thomas

This big-budget monster movie goes the regular way, offering all the tropes, clichés and big ticket special effects one expects from it. But this is a different King Kong movie from the original 1933 one or it’s successors for that matter. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts appears to have re-envisioned an origin story with Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly and John Gatins that goes way back into the pre-historic age making a sort of hidden comeback in modern times- a sort of Jurassic Park for the Giant ape and assorted creatures. Only, this one is not manmade. The creatures on the storm concealed Skull Island in the Pacific Ocean may have ancestors dating back to the Dinosaur age or thereabouts but the surviving generation exists in a cloud covered halo that begins (in the movie) in 1933 during World War II and jumps straight to 1976 post Vietnam War.

Skull Island and its environs are shrouded by impenetrable storm clouds so locating this wonder ecology through gadgets in 1976 was next to impossible. But some survivors and legends point to the existence of the enshrouded island paradise and a team of Geologists, armymen and ex-secret operatives including  Bill Randa (John Goodman) , tracker James Conrad(Tom Hiddleston), Ace Photojournalist Mason Weaver(Brie Larson), Col Preston Packard(Samuel L Jackson), army men Houston Brooks(Corey Hawkins), Cole (Shea Whigham ) and several others who are in the team to wing it, set forth for the Island, penetrate the clouds through choppers and then detonate bombs presumably to study the content of the landmass below. Knowingly or unknowingly they wake up the Giant Kong and set in motion a series of events that leaves them literally fleeing for safety. Just dividends if you ask me.

Frankly, the ideological confusion prevailing in the narration is pretty much evident. Kong is big and mean to the baddies including reptilian monsters that emerge from the core when disturbed by human detonated artillery. Packard has his own score to settle with Kong for which he enlists the other army men’s help under the patriotic fervour of saving America (don’t know where that came from) and of helping mankind survive. The foolishness of that premise is a little hard to digest, especially since it’s the men who actually went foraging for threats that were never even on the horizon. Needless to say Kong survives for another expected and prolonged series of battles in the future and there are survivors who will in all honesty go back to civilization and let out what they saw and experienced even if they promised not to do so. 

The scale is gigantic –best suited to Imax viewing no doubt and there are plenty of references to war and America’s role in it to make this sound very much like an anti-war film. But the relish in which Packard and team set out to detonate the monster just about debunks that thread. The CGI giants look good but they don’t always look like they are carrying their own supposed weight: too many attacks flying around for that to stick. The imagined aurora-borealis here doesn’t look all that great either. This is a film that seeks to awe with its sheer size and spread of ideas but there’s precious little to make you spell bound. The bigger you get the harder you fall and this one appears to be making that adage come true!


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