NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are. THIS WEEK: Yet one more take on the world’s mightiest ape, but with a twist. In 1973, mercenary tracker Tom “Loki” Hiddleston is hired by “obsessed cryptozologist” John Goodman (kind of a scientific Carl Denham) to fly with gritty, loyal-to-the-end, “war is all I know” colonel Samuel L. “Nick Fury” Jackson and his crew to an uncharted, hidden-till-satellites-found-it isle where they discover a bunch of creatures (and people) they never expected.
Written by Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly, from a story by John Gatins. (Based on characters created by Edgar Wallace.) Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
One word: KONG! The King himself is the star, even if he’s only in about half the film. You wouldn’t think effects could get too much better than the Peter Jackson state-of-the-art version from 2005, but a dozen years is a long time in the FX biz. The way he moves (like something that big would), acts, looks and expresses himself is awesome. In six films, this is by far the most realistic and perfect version of everyone’s favorite major monkey I’ve ever seen. (MIKE: He’s not a monkey; he’s an ape!) Well then, you’re the monkey.
All the actors do a fine and credible job, even if their characters take second place to the title dude. Sam Jackson, even if his character doesn’t make a lot of sense, always entertains with authentic intensity. Best by far is John C. Reilly who plays a forgotten WWII vet who inhabits the island with the natives. He’s both comedy relief and pith—er, payth—um…(MIKE: pathos?) Yeah, that. He’s wacky but wonderful.
(FROM MIKE: The cinematography is amazing. Some breathtaking panoramic shots along with great close-ups and transitions with eyes, trees, even eating. Several very cool “film school” setups and “coming atcha” shots.)
Brie Larson’s bra should have its own credit. Super-tight shirt (and curvy hiney) combined with a decent helmet exactly explains why the big ape fell head over heels for something a fraction of his size. (She plays a war photographer that comes along to document everything; and does a fine acting job too.)
That “love interest” wasn’t treated goofily or sentimentally or preachily as in other versions. It’s all done thru eyes and expressions, so you still get it without it being a main focus.
The other creatures are pretty cool, especially the “skull-walkers”; even though they move too fast for something that large, they look menacing and make good foils for the prime primate.
Plot and story make sense. Very little drag; the story gets moving right away, even from the opening credits which establish a kind of origin of how Kong could exist (the usual nuclear thing). But it also sets up future films.
Great soundtrack (if yer over 40 at least). It starts with the end of the Vietnam War, and some of the film is shot there, so you get plenty of classic rock like most of those war movies. (Pompous types will hate when they hear CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle” while the characters are actually walking through the jungle, but I smiled because I do not have a critic-stick up my butt.)
Speaking of future films, you gotta stay till after all the credits. Not only does it start with a gag (“You’re all just sitting there in the dark…What are you waiting for?”) it sets up an entire franchise that guys like me will be drooling over. (No spoilers!)
Not for little ones due to some gore and the really loud screams and roars, close-ups of giant monster faces and that kind of thing. (Unless your kid is warped like Pascale was at that age.)
Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: A few what I call “amazing coincidences” where there are lucky (and unlucky) breaks strictly because the story calls for them. And the photographer never needs a flash nor runs out of film. But mostly minor stuff.
No dinosaur fight. *sigh*
Bad research! There’s a smack-talk exchange between a Chicago Cubs and a Detroit Tigers fan about the World Series and each forgets that the Tigers beat the Cubs in 1945 (the latter’s last WS appearance until last year), and that the Tigers won the championship in 1968! Any fan of either team would have mentioned those facts, especially back in ’73.
Puking up a human skull? Spiders the size of apartment buildings spewing goo? Yuck. (Thankfully we do not see Kong drop a deuce or take a leak! I’m sure the Robot Chicken guys will make up for it.)
I guarantee you’ll hear some stuffed-shorts type whine about a “lack if in-depth characterization” and hear words like “cardboard cut-outs, “stereotypes,” “tropes” and all that. Plus, “shippers” will be expecting more between Hiddleston’s Conrad and Larson’s Weaver but don’t get it. Sorry, dweebs, but let’s be honest: it’s a flippin’ monster movie!
A must-see this for the theater—the bigger the better. (I didn’t see it in 3D but it probably looked good.) If you’re like me, though, you’ll want to see all the cool FX-creature-features on the Bluray/DVD too (not to mention being able to pause and rewind certain scenes…over and over and over). Finally, a Kong worthy of his kingly status. I don’t see how they can top this one for the super simian himself, but I definitely want to see the next chapter!
P.S.: Speaking of monkeys, they say if you put a hundred in front of a drawing board, you’ll eventually get a masterpiece. Why wait? Get some original art from the Pascale monkey—he’s faster and won’t throw his poop. He’ll draw you up somethin’ sweet, cool, funny and/or fun, and fairly cheap, too. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, giant primates, inhabitants of lost islands, the feminist majority or the horny minority. Bru would like to meet Kong but only if Fay Wray and Brie Larson come with him!