Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★★

This is exactly what a monster movie should be - a funny, entertaining action spectacle. A few weeks ago I reviewed Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim and what I wrote back then applies also to Kong: Skull Island. The filmmakers were absolutlely aware of the inherently ludicrous nature of the material and played out its strengths to the full extent. Perfunctory characters, sketchy dialogue and predictability all take a backseat to the jaw-dropping visuals and the well choreographed action sequences. The crux in making a film like this is to not end up with a soulless vfx demo reel. And they didn't. The trailers and posters already showed the filmmaker's penchant for Apocalypse Now. To be clear, this movie is not a serious comment on anything remotely political, it uses a number of visual cues from Coppola's Vietnam epic, and a dazzling array of classic rock songs to create atmosphere. Sounds familiar? Like in every Vietnam war film ever made? No prizes for originality here, but that's not the point, the important point is that it works. Bonus points for not annoying us with yet another fucking love story.

There's no real need to talk about the characters. While Sam Jackson's Colonel Packard, who obviously is heavily inspired by Colonel Kurtz, and John C. Reily's WW2 pilot (it's not really a spoiler since his appearance is not a plot twist and the character is in the opening sequence) are the most fleshed out ones among the players, Tom Hiddelston is supposed to be (at least on paper) the main character, but he has even less personality than Brie Larson's war photographer. Both are basically there to look good. Mission accomplished.

Then of course we all know that our real protagonist is the giant gorilla. By now we all have seen quite a number of films with completely CG-animated creatures, yet I am still amazed by how palpable and real they feel when done right. Kong 2017 is a truly monumental appearance. Contrary to Gareth Edwards' drab Godzilla, this film doesn't hold back in showing us his main attraction and nearly all of his scenes happen to be in daylight. In fact most of the film takes place during the day which only highlights the beautiful locations and sets it was shot on.

I already mentioned 2014's Godzilla, a film which I didn't like at all because it took itself far too serious and squandered its fun potential with pseudo realism and grittyness. Instead of Godzilla 2 and the planned Godzilla vs Kong, I would much rather see another pure Kong sequel.

PS: They went to the absolute limit what can be shown in the framework of a PG-13 rating. It's quite brutal and graphic in its depiction of dying and death.

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