Monday, March 13, 2017

Kong: Skull Island with Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly

This was such a fun movie. The visuals, colors and cinematography are amazing. The special effects are painstaking at times. The theme is not just indicative of Apocalypse Now, occurring during the Vietnam war, but some of the scenes are taken right out of it, particularly the helicopter incursion into a remote uncharted island where an explorer, Bill Randa, (John Goodman) has convinced the U. S. government and an army platoon to go under the pretext of beneficial discoveries like modern day medicine, never revealing that his real intention is to find large monsters like Kong and others.

Aboard the helicopters are James Conrad, a former SAS soldier now tracker (Tom Hiddleston) and a self-professed "anti-war-photographer" Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Also, Samuel L. Jackson
plays Preston Packard, an obsessive colonel  who loves war and is not ready to take his unit home despite having permission to do so. And, yes, Jackson is in his typical, cinematic persona. This particular cast does a great job of keeping this movie worthwhile instead of a dud like so many other King Kong/Godzilla movies of the recent past.

When Kong first appears on the island there is an intense confrontation with the army unit as he attempts to protect his territory, and this scene of several minutes of great special effects is worth its weight in gold and one single reason you should see it.

Throughout the well written story Packard and the rest of the team disagree on how to proceed, whether to get off the island and leave Kong alone while cutting their losses, or treat the monster as a threat and confront it. As a result, intense dialogues take place between Packard, furious at the monster for attacking his men, and Conrad and Weaver who see themselves having wrongly invaded Kong's home.

The backdrop of Vietnam adds a lot of depth to the story and while there are certainly some latent anti-war themes throughout the movie, the writing stays away from the blatant and uncomfortable political statement.

All in all, it has a bit of everything: action, drama, intellectualism and a lot of comedy, most notably from John C. Reilly who surprises everyone on the island with his story as a former WW II pilot, Hank Marlow. Lastly, this is not your typical action and monster movie where your brain will not be stimulated throughout the entire length. Rather, the combination of the cast, writing and backdrop of Vietnam  may actually cause you to think about the consequences of war and compassion for your enemy. It is very interesting and you will certainly have fun watching it.  I give it 9 out of 10 quality points.

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