King Kong has returned. I wasn’t sure he went anywhere, but there you go.
No, my friends, our old hero, Kong, is getting rolled into an expanded cinematic universe and I couldn’t be happier for him. This time around, the legend of King Kong gets a spit-polish. Gone is his trip to New York City. Gone is his infatuation and kidnapping of pretty women. Gone is the metaphor of an ape climbing a skyscraper.
Kong: Skull Island sets out with one unique and stellar purpose: To strip Kong of his baggage and cliches and just tell a story of a gigantic monkey being an absolute unit.
And, you know… they do a fine job of doing that.
This movie may not have the grandeur of the original or the heart of Peter Jackson’s version or the… chest hair of the 70’s remake, but it goes out of its way to do something unique and different with the great ape. It cuts so much of the expected and turns itself into a fun monster movie and, as it turns out, fun can make up for a lot of what’s lacking.
The characters, for example, aren’t that great. There are a couple of likeable soldiers – including a couple of surprise kills that are more gruesome than I thought they would be – but none were particularly memorable as none of them got hardly any backstory. Samuel L. Jackson’s character is a soldier without a war and, so, he desperately creates an enemy where there shouldn’t be one… which is fine, but we’ve seen the obsessive commanding officer many times before just as we’ve seen Tom Hiddleston’s tough action hero.
But none of that matters. Kong: Skull Island knows where its strengths are and makes no attempt to sell itself as anything different than what it is. This movie is about monsters, monsters fighting, and mayhem and, brother, it delivers on that. The action pieces are phenomenal, the adventure element is fun, and there is just enough levity and comedy to keep the movie from getting too full of itself. The movie is always eager to play on its own ridiculousness and it provides the audience with some terrific escapism.
It’s no classic, but it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Big monkeys… from a bigger barrel. It’s cool, it’s got style, and a grand sense of adventure for, for a movie about a giant ape swatting helicopters like mosquitoes, can you really make the case for anything more?