Movie review: Does Kong: Skull Island tower over previous films about the giant gorilla? 

Posted: 10:31 am, March 11, 2017 by editor
SINGAPORE, Mar 11: Right from the first breathless action sequence, it is clear the people behind Kong: Skull Island are not monkeying around with their reboot of this movie icon.

This is an unadulterated monster film where Kong will forever be King and the makers want everyone to know it.

Like a sweaty and intense Jurassic Park wrapped up in hints of Apocalypse Now, Kong: Skull Island is an adrenaline-rush movie adventure with an all-star cast of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson and John C Reilly. The film sets itself apart from its predecessors not only through its stunning locations, but also by getting the audience acquainted with the beast from the get-go.

Our first meeting with Kong comes unexpectedly quickly. And it is also ferocious, vicious and violent, which is what most monster movie fans want when meeting the terrifying beast for the first time.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts shows a remarkable confidence when it comes to staging and delivering ostentatious set pieces. He is fearless with big moments like executing a single shot that passes through numerous helicopters while Kong attacks. This and all his subsequent action sequences are done with flourish and a little bit of glee.

Visually, the redesign of King Kong works. The filmmakers have managed to make a more fully formed beast with character and purpose by stepping even further away from previous incarnations and making him more of a monster and less of an animal.

Sure, this Kong may look less realistic as a pumped up CGI character on steroids. But he somehow ends up feeling inherently more real, and certainly more three-dimensional than any of the human characters, especially when the film covers both his villain and vulnerable side.


Pop culture’s mythology of King Kong has always been a study on the human condition, man’s contentious relationship with nature and our sense of superiority. Examining the flaws and conscience of mankind is an apt theme, given how Skull Island is set in the waning days of the Vietnam War.

Throw in all the other mythical creatures as expected in King Kong stories (some of which are obvious nods to the expected franchise sequels) and we come to the understanding that perhaps it is us humans and not the creatures that are the true monsters.

And in the current political environment, it is fascinating how timely the movie feels. When Goodman’s character says: “Mark my word, there’ll never be a more screwed up time in Washington,” it feels highly relevant.

Indeed, it is a shame that the film only scratched the surface of that theme. But when all is said and done, this is still a monster movie that aims to please the popcorn crowd. And Skull Island works purely as an intense thrill ride action aimed at the 10-year-old kid in all of us wanting more monsters and mayhem rather than character and plot.

Skull Island delivers. And with just the right amount of kitsch, action and eye-candy, it roars into the Kong oeuvre and earns its rightful place in the series.

Genevieve Loh’s rating: 4 / 5

– CNA/gl

(The Malaysian Times)


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