There have been many movie versions of the King Kong tale, most of which transport the giant gorilla to New York City so he can climb an iconic building and roar at passing planes. This 2017 version, however, is more of an origin story, taking a group of scientists and soldiers (and us) to an uncharted Pacific island filled with numerous colossal terrors as well as the infamous furry beast himself.
After a brief prologue showing an American and a Japanese pilot crashing onto the island during World War II, we zip forward to the 1970s and meet explorer Bill Randa (Goodman), who is determined to mount an expedition to the island to uncover its mysteries. Along with a couple of scientists, he recruits tracker Conrad (Hiddleston), war photographer Mason (Larson) and a handful of US soldiers finishing their last tour of Vietnam who are led by gruff Packard (Jackson).
The plan, according to Randa, is to drop some seismic charges (bombs) on the island to see what it’s really made of, but of course, all this does is wake up the various monsters (giant gorilla, giant spider, and hideous skeletal mega-lizards that will freak out younger viewers) that are going to turn half the cast into breakfast.
There is a plot of sorts as the team realise they need to get off the island ASAP (not that easy when your helicopters have been swatted out of the sky by an understandably aggrieved Kong), and while Conrad is all British reserve and sensible tactics, Packard becomes increasingly vengeful and unhinged in an Apocalpyse Now sort of way after many of his men die. Throw in John C Reilly as a long-standing island castaway and you’ve got a great selection of over-the-top characters/monster snacks.
Reilly and Jackson are especially great at chewing the scenery and spitting it out with gusto (Larson and Hiddleston aren’t given much to do, alas), but in the end the movie belongs to the creatures – especially a stunning and rather adorable Kong – and the impressive set pieces, from the early Kong versus helicopters scene to the beast’s battle with the biggest and ugliest of those hideous lizard thingies.
It’s all a bit silly – and saddled with some extremely clunky dialogue – but it’s also fast-paced and packed with terrific special effects. See it for what it is – a slick, entertaining, action-packed creature feature that is, most importantly, really, really fun.
Is Kong: Skull Island suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is aimed at adults and older children and has numerous scenes that may scare the under-10s.
Younger viewers may be scared the first time they see Kong.
There is a scene featuring a giant spider that may frighten viewers (especially arachnophobes).
The giant lizard creatures are the ones most likely to upset younger viewers. They look skeletal, and in various scenes we see them eat people and attack Kong,
There are frequent scenes of peril and some bad language.
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