One of my resolutions has not been to covet these blog posts and turn my blog into some sort of pseudo high brow editorial mag. I’m not that sort of person, let’s face it, and I should stop worrying about copying the million cookie-cutter blogs out there, no matter how often I read them or how popular they are. I’ll do me. And little old me went to see Kong: Skull Island today on a solo cinema trip to the Prince Charles Cinema and wants to talk about it.
So Kong: Skull Island is self explanatory in terms of set up. John Goodman, a former soldier spending his later years bothering government officials to give him money to find monsters, now needs to find more money to go and bother monsters. It’s the waning moments of the Vietnam War and if he wants to ride the wave of nationalist pride in blowing shit up he has to get a Senator’s approval. Money secured, he then has to find a rag-tag team to help him piggyback on an already scheduled scientific mission to Skull Island: an island that sits in the Pacific Ocean and apparently is so storm-blighted that no-one has ever bothered to go near it. So he calls in a favour with the army. Samuel L Jackson – one of the few not excited to be packing up and heading home with the troops out of Vietnam – and his platoon are hired to be a military escort for these strange, strange people who think an ancient island swirling with storm clouds isn’t something that should be left as nature’s little secret. He also finds a tracker in the form of Tom Hiddleston, who just so happens to be hanging around the streets of Vietnam picking fights in bars and looking handsome, and is given a wad of cash to help them out. And to top off the bunch is Brie Larsson, a photo journalist with artfully tousled ‘bronde’ hair.
And so the team set out, sticking out like sore thumbs on a cargo ship full of scientists in baby blue bomber jackets. They encounter a storm encircling the entire island that any sane person would take as a great big ‘turn the fuck back’ sign. But these people, bless their messed up psyches, see it as merely a bump in the road. And so they put their apaches through lightning clouds and Samuel L Jackson recites the story of Icarus, who would have apparently survived if he’d been flying in good old fashion Pennsylvanian steel as they were.
Of course, the titular character of the movie has yet to appear. So as the tight formation of helicopters move into the clear skies and over stunning scenery of Skull Island, you just know…well there’s a big monkey about. But until then, there’s slow motion helicopter blades to be filmed, punctuated by smiling faces of men (and Brie Larson and another scientist, San) staring out in wonder at an untouched wilderness. And all you can think of as the thud-thud of the blades punctuate good old fashioned rock and roll is: All. You. Gonna. Get. Ate.
Sure enough, Kong then turns up to harpoon them with a tree.
And so the rest of the movie carries on with a rather predictable but no less enjoyable story. I’ll leave some of the more stand-out moments untouched so as not to spoil it, but I will say this to all arachnophobes: if you see something that looks like a giant spider about to attack our protagonists, then you are right, it is the biggest fucking spider you have ever seen, so just close your eyes until it’s eaten everyone it’s going to eat and everything goes quiet.
There are some things I want to highlight about this movie in an attempt to give you a flavour of it:
1 – Tom Hiddleston looks like he’s in an expensive watch commercial. Complete with moody blue linen shirt rolled up to this elbows to reveal tanned, toned forearms slapped with a (no-doubt branded) watch heavily on display. I’m not complaining, it’s just an observation. No matter how much blood and guts flew over him, he looked immaculate and watch-commercial perfect. If you need distracting from the monsters just keep an eye on Tom’s wonderfully attractive arms and even more attractive face. He also does a bit where he samurai chops birds out of the air in green toxic gas. Don’t ask, just go with it.
2 – Budweiser clearly sponsored part of this movie. You know because all of the soldiers sit around drinking artfully placed bottles of Bud whilst writing to gals back home. Later on, Samuel L Jackson stares pensively at his medals of honour whilst a bottle of Bud stares equally pensively at the camera from the desk behind him.
3 – Brie Larson’s character would be a great millennial. She snaps everything with her beautiful camera, including epic battles between creatures 15,000 times the size of her.
4 – Kong is a hero and he kicks fellow monster ass. It’s the Kong before he becomes famous, the Kong before he’s targeted for being a huge monkey and more for crimes committed during a home invasion.
So that’s King Kong. It’s done like a heavily stylised war movie – lots of slo-mo helicopter blades thudding to the sound of The Rolling Stones and Hendrix as magic hour light streams across exotic vistas and the silhouettes of men with helmets and automatic machine guns. ‘Some folks are born to made the wave the flag, Ooh they’re red, white and blue.’ It’s a good vehicle for carrying the slight silliness of the plot, just like those pumping 1970s war movies set in the ‘Nam jungle. If you can get over the gaping plot hole that is the first sighting of Kong (they’re in apaches, miles away from him, surely after spying a monkey the size of Ben Nevis you’d just turn said helicopters around??) then you’ll enjoy the ride.