The giant ape King Kong has made numerous appearances on screen and found a home among the most legendary beasts of cinema. Kong first appeared in the iconic 1933 film and since then Kong has trashed New York City more than once and battled Godzilla frequently too. Jordan Vogt-Roberts' version of the story of the giant ape is set in 1973, with the Vietnam war providing a suitable backdrop. The imagery used in the film, such as the fiery explosions and shimmering images, mirror the pictures regularly seen in Vietnam War films such as Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket.
Kong: Skull Island is a much bigger film than the highly-celebrated Kings of Summer (also directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts) and with the size of the film, Jordan Vogt-Roberts struggles to juggle the many characters. When a giant ape, spider or skullcrusher rampages through the platoon, it’s hard to decipher (and hard to care quite frankly) when some of the bit part characters (who seem to multiply and come from nowhere) are eaten, crushed or bashed away.
Most of the fun stems from watching Kong punching a giant octopus in the head as the huge beasts tower over the human characters yet, unlike in the previous versions (such as 1933 and 2005 versions) there is little empathy and understanding for the beast. Every performance in this film is just ‘meh’ except for a superb John C.Riley who not only brings a sorely needed comic touch but some (even more sorely needed) humanity to the film with his poignant performance.
The special effects are tremendous and the film is fun even if the only name I remember is James Conrad and that’s only because it’s a name similar to the author of Heart of Darkness (the book that inspired Apocalypse Now), Joseph Conrad.