12 March 2017



Okay, so we knew that KONG: SKULL ISLAND was never going to be as good as the 1933 original film that introduced a golden-haired and frantically screaming Fay Wray to the world, but the first of this year's big screen blockbusters is actually pretty damn good, in my humble opinion.

I consider it worthy of inclusion in the canon of KONG movies, which already consists of the aforementioned 1933 film, the 'Seventies version with Jeff Bridges and a highly-sexed Jessica Lange and Jack Black's excellent version from 2005.

It's an all-action, big-budget movie filled with big star actors whom everyone will recognise. It's the early 'Seventies and the Vietnam War has just ended. The usual team of American scientists and interested parties, plus a military escort fresh from the battlefields of 'Nam, are heading for Skull Island in the back of beyond to ferret out the mysteries they think it holds.

Who knows what wonders might be contained in the dense jungles that shroud the island? Maybe they'll find a cure for cancer there, or a way of advancing science and medicine and the pharmaceutical industry amongst the shrubs, rivers and trees? Of course, they'll find much more than herbs and spices on Skull Island, the Land That Time (and everyone else) Forgot. We, the viewers, know it and John Goodman, who got the party together in the first place, knows it too...

Kong turns up unexpectedly early on. He's a magnificent beast and he doesn't look at all phoney or computerised. He's only hostile to human beings who threaten him, and when Samuel L. Jackson as a ruthless 'Nam veteran leads his fellow army men by helicopter onto the island, Kong feels immensely threatened, and rightly so. Leave him alone and he's grand. Get all up in his face and you're gonna feel the wrath of Kong right up close...

Kong is brilliant as he pops out for sushi (effortlessly wrestles with a giant squid before tearing him apart, eating bits of him and getting the rest wrapped up to take home) and bats at helicopters like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. Both John Goodman's and Samuel L. Jackson's characters are out for Kong's blood, which is a terrible mistake as, for once, Kong's not really the enemy.

As we've already mentioned, if you don't bug Kong he won't bug you. No, there are much worse creatures to fear on the island, and how do we know this...? John C. Reilly tells us so, haha.

John C. Reilly, heavily bearded and as scruffy as a guy whose wife's just left him for his best mate and he doesn't know how to use the washing-machine, is terrific in the film. He plays the Robinson Crusoe-type guy who crash-landed on the island during World War Two and who's lived there amongst the peaceful, as opposed to warlike, islanders ever since.

His story is so sad. Reminds me of those aircraft pilots who come out of the spaceship at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Talk about being trapped in a time-warp. God bless him, he doesn't even know who won the goddamn Second World War.

So, we've got John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson on one side, trying (unwisely) to kill Kong, despite the fact that he's the only guy in town who can fight the hideous beasties known as the 'Skull Crawlers.' There's a great scene featuring Samuel L. Jackson silhouetted in black against a lake of fire while he triumphs in the knowledge that he's brought Kong down. Don't worry, viewers. It won't be for long...

In the pro-Kong camp, we've got John C. Reilly, who's lived on the island for nearly thirty years and who really knows what he's talking about. Backing him are Tom Hiddleston as the group's tracker and Brie Larson as the designated photographer.

Tom Hiddleston is supposed to be cinema's new heart-throb since he played Thor's brother Loki in THOR, but I just don't see it. I much preferred Chris Pratt, who played the beefcake in 2015's epic all-action blockbuster JURASSIC WORLD.

And, speaking of Chris Pratt and JURASSIC WORLD, he had much more of a frisson between himself and his love-interest, Bryce Dallas Howard, in that film than Tom Hiddleston does with Brie Larson in KONG: SKULL ISLAND.

There was, like, zero sexual tension between Tom Hiddleston and ROOM's Brie Larson in KONG: SKULL ISLAND. In fact, if there was meant to be a love story there, they downplayed it so much as to make it almost non-existent. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard positively crackled with the electricity and sexual tension between them. Between Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson, I detected nothing like that, sadly.

Brie Larson doesn't seem to have cheered up much since ridding herself of the snotty-nosed kid from ROOM, but she does look beautiful in the film with her sun-kissed golden-brown skin and dem purdy tiddies of hers looking like two ripe apples in a knapsack, haha.

By the way, just as an aside, Kong has several chances in the movie to kidnap Brie Larson and spirit her away to his mountain hideaway just like he does with the Sheilas in all the other film versions of the story but, on every occasion, he declines. Well, she's no Fay Wray but she's not that bad, surely...?

The creatures, Kong included, are all spectacular. The fight sequences were so fast-moving that I feel like I missed a lot of what exactly happened during them. I might have to go and see the film again, which I often do anyway when it's a monster movie or creature-feature I particularly wanted to see.

The door is wide open for a sequel (so open that there's a bloody draught round my ankles), as you'll know if you stayed till the end of the credits. Yep, there's an extra scene at the end of the credits so it's worth staying on in the theatre until the cleaner is bad-temperedly making a point of sweeping around you, haha.

There's one big difference between this film and its predecessors. In KONG: SKULL ISLAND, no attempts are made to bring Kong to New York for a career in showbusiness. I understand that Kong himself was deeply disappointed by this decision.

I have it on good authority that he'd been taking acting lessons in secret for months and spending a small fortune on having his teeth bleached in preparation for the trip to the Big Apple and seeing his name up in lights. Ah well. Win some, lose some, isn't that what they say? Showbusiness is a hideous bitch-goddess, anyway. Who'd want that for a mistress...?

Bottom line? I loved KONG: SKULL ISLAND. It was good boisterous fun and it looked great on the big screen, which is probably the best way to see it. I can't wait for the  (possibly Godzilla-related?) sequel that was clearly signposted in the little end bit after the credits. There's a terrific music soundtrack from the 'Seventies to listen out for as well.

Go and see the movie for yourselves and enjoy it. Watch out for any Samuel L. Jacksons you may encounter loose in the wild, though. 'Nam left him teetering on the brink of sanity. Don't you be the one to tip him over the edge...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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