A couple of weeks ago I went to see Kong: Skull Island with my wife for a long lunch on a Friday. I had some bad vibes about the film, but was hoping to be blown away by a new take on the old tale. I like a good monster movie, after all.
It turned out that Kong was more about the filmmaker trying to recreate Apocalypse Now than create a monster movie. But even so, I found myself saying two very positive things about the film when we were done. 1. It was a very pretty monster movie. And 2, it had a great soundtrack.
When I saw Apocalypse Now in high school, it was in AP English during a unit on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I honestly didn’t like either the book or the movie and I think the movie soured me pretty much on war movies in general, not that I was really a war movie kind of guy. (I did appreciate the parody in Hot Shots! with Charlie Sheen however.)
Kong is the story of a small collection of characters and their relationship with the big ape. One wants to prove it exists. One wants to kill it because he can’t stand the idea that he lost the Vietnam War. One has accepted Kong as a force for balance in a world of monsters. And one, well, I’m not sure why he was there. And I think that was part of the problem.
The girl (played by Brie Larson) was not there for a good reason other than the fact that King Kong needs his Fay Wray. Tom Hiddleston was there for the money. Sam Jackson was crazy. John Goodman wasn’t far behind. And John C. Reilly was the only character in the whole damn film who I felt I really believed.
Did I mention it was a very pretty movie with a great soundtrack?
Kong and Skull Island was amazing. The special effects were fantastic. I want to just get an animated gif of Kong snacking on some squid tentacles at some point just for fun. And the soundtrack was right out of the early 1970s. I jammed along to every single song.
But I couldn’t get emotionally invested with any of the main characters except for John C. Reilly — and I don’t even like Reilly. His crazy little pilot character was the only grounded thing in the whole damn movie for me.
Maybe I missed something, but I want an emotional connection to a character in the flick if it’s going to really do anything for me. It doesn’t give me a lot of hope for the Tom Cruise Mummy movie that’s coming this summer, though I know I’m going to go see it and hope that it is better than this one.
It seems I’m in the minority on this one, so go form your own opinions. The big ape deserved more than a nod to Vietnam in my book.