Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★

Daikaijourney: The Best of the Beasts

For my birthday, I waffled over whether I should rewatch Godzilla: King of the Monsters before Godzilla vs. Kong comes out or check out the one Legendary Monsterverse film I hadn't seen yet. In the end I settled on Kong: Skull Island, and found deep appreciation for how campy trash can get budgets in the hundred-million-dollar range these days.

One aspect these American kaiju films continue to struggle with is the human factor, which was underdeveloped here excluding a few standout exceptions such as John C. Reilly. Others, such as Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and especially John Goodman abandon all definition to their character once they reach the island, merely filling in the cracks between spectacular monster brawls and Apocalypse Now imagery. Samuel L Jackson at least had the whole Captain Ahab thing going for him. It wasn’t much, but it was a great deal more nuanced than “Travel Man” and “Photography Girl.”

Thank goodness they delivered where Godzilla (2014) faltered: the monsters. Skullcrawlers were a creative and frightening new addition to the kajiu bestiary with their soulless, beady little eyes, though I wish we could have had a dino fight for old times sake. Yes, I suppose that would rob Godzilla of his uniqueness for their showdown at the end of March... and yet what I wouldn’t give to see the long await rematch between Kong and Gorosaurus...

Peter Jackson's King Kong remains the go-to for me, but I also respect that Skull Island isn't three-hours long either. One of these days I'll finally watch the original 1933 version and see which one comes out on top.

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