If the idea of a cinematic universe where Godzilla, King Kong and Mothra all co-exist and battle it out seems ridiculous to you, you aren’t the only one - I suspect the team behind that exact cinematic universe think the same way. But if the second film in this Monsterverse, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ ‘Kong: Skull Island’, proves anything, it’s that accepting and celebrating the ridiculous might actually make this emerging franchise something to be excited about.
‘Kong: Skull Island’ ditches the classic Kong narrative, and against a Vietnam War setting, follows a group of scientists and military support as they explore the titular mysterious island, thereby earning the wrath of its territorial leader - a much bigger, much more ferocious Kong. Crafting a new story is a wise move, allowing the film to blossom into a pure, bombastic action-adventure film. The wonderful eclectic ensemble (including Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and John C. Reilly) stumble across Vogt-Roberts’ enormous canvas and through incredible action sequences where the "bigger is better" rule is actually employed correctly. The 70s setting offers an exciting new texture to play with, including some great music choices and references to ‘Apocalypse Now’, of all things! What is most impressive about this film though is how consistently it works to build this franchise from the groundwork laid in Garth Edwards’ ‘Godzilla’ - the visuals are rich, the narrative strokes are wonderfully broad and it embraces its function as pure escapism without complaint. It doesn’t just assume that we will accept these two films existing in the same universe, but puts the work in, building a wider sense of mythology that is clear and self-assured. While other franchises stumble to achieve the Marvel model, this one might be one of the few that appears to be getting it right.
SWITCH: 'KONG: SKULL ISLAND' TRAILER
That’s not to say that ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a great film - the dialogue is still cheesy, the female characters are not that developed, Vogt-Roberts occasionally relies too much on his striking visuals and there are sections where it meanders a bit, but ultimately it’s such a rollicking good time that these faults hardly matter. This is pure entertainment that does exactly what it promises, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, offering a series of crazy action set pieces that keep you on the edge of your seat in an awesome reimagining of a classic screen monster. I’m really excited to see where this series goes from here, and if the idea of an impending summer blockbuster where King Kong and Godzilla beat the crap out of one another seemed like a dumb idea before, it seems a hell of a lot more appealing now.
While other franchises stumble to achieve the Marvel model, this one might be one of the few that appears to be getting it right.
PICTURE & SOUND
Colour is one of the most striking aspects of the cinematography and production design in ‘Kong: Skull Island’, and the 1080p 2.35:1 transfer thankfully captures its vibrant palette beautifully. It’s a gorgeous transfer, eye-popping and razor sharp while maintaining the cinematic texture of the colour grading. The Dolby Atmos track is also a delight, thunderous and obnoxious in all the right ways. With the right sound system, it’ll pack one hell of a punch.
The film is also available on 3D Blu-ray and 4K.