Once Again Kong Remains King in “Kong: Skull Island”

Once Again Kong Remains King in “Kong: Skull Island”

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C Reilly

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson

Though this new re-boot of the cinematic classic offers a buffed-up, adrenalized version of the legendary King Kong character, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts retained most of the structural elements of the original’s narrative. Though scrambled, rebalanced and transformed, mostly for the better, he resets this story to take place in 1973 in order to put into play a whole new mythology built around the advent of the mega-monsters. The two lovers are here — in this case, reconfigured to be former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and pacifist photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) but their story is really sublimated compared to the implicit political message embedded in this version.

Much like the original storyline, a team of explorers and soldiers travel to an uncharted Pacific island thinking they are there to do scientific research only to discover a world of monsters, including a mythic super-sized, gorilla-like Kong. But unlike the 1933 version, all the action takes place on the island which stands in for an entirely ancient world.

That does mean the film riffs not only on the original; there are homages to all sorts of cinematic tropes such as Apocalypse Now and the Jurassic Park films among others. In this new film, Samuel L. Jackson — who plays a demented Colonel Packard bent on taking revenge on Kong for killing most of his men — repeats his famous line, “Hold onto your butts,” from 1993’s Jurassic Park — another film about an island beset by giant creatures that Jackson appeared in. So besides the obvious suggestion of “Apocalypse Now’s” Colonel Kurtz, the raging Jackson provides a character rife with references.

Besides that, given the director’s comic background (he did Comedy Central’s “Mash-Up” and the film “Kings of Summer”), Vogt-Roberts couldn’t resist brings in John C. Reilly, an actor who provides a light touch of comic relief to what is otherwise a very serious life-threatening sequence of gruesome death scenes. As most of the crew pushes forward — unaware that they are crossing into a forbidden domain of unearthly ancient beasts, Hank Marlow (Reilly) suddenly appears as a marooned World War Two pilot, who guides them to safety and, essentially, explains the plot twists to everyone, cast and audience.

Though audiences might assume this ape will succumb in the same way as the first version, that’s not the case (no spoilers here but sequels will include many other familiar monsters). It’s most of the characters who die. But that a strength about this film where most of them were annoying anyhow. Much like other recent beast fare in theaters (“Logan” and “Beauty and the Beast”) “Kong: Skull Island” provides a worthy rethink of this source material for audiences to gnaw on.

More in Film

Nordic Film Festival

Bo Svenson, Brooklyn Decker, Jerome Flynn, Kristin Chenoweth and More Judge The Nordic International Film Festival

Magda KatzSeptember 18, 2017
Chucky Doll

Film Preview: Cult of Chucky arriving just in time for Halloween

WriterSeptember 14, 2017
Marko Stout

Marko Stout the Ultimate Celebrity Pop Artist

WriterSeptember 10, 2017
Glenn Close, John Malkovich

September Movie Preview

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 3, 2017
Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart Brings Her Film Directorial Debut to MOMA

Suzanna BowlingAugust 31, 2017
Richard Gere

Cabaret and Interesting Talks For September

Suzanna BowlingAugust 27, 2017
US Open

What To Do, Where To Go In September

Suzanna BowlingAugust 27, 2017
Jon Rudnitsky,Reese Witherspoon, Pico Alexander

Reese Witherspoon Screens Her New Film Home In The Hamptons

Rose BillingsAugust 26, 2017
Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman Will Be The 54th Recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award

Suzanna BowlingAugust 23, 2017