When I first heard that they were making another Kong movie, my first reaction was: “Ha? Si King Kong nanaman? Ilang beses ba niyang kailangang mahulog sa building?!” Don’t get me wrong, despite it being probably an hour too long, I actually liked the last King Kong movie from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Though I didn’t like it enough for me to want to see another King Kong movie. I didn’t come out of the movie house saying, “Wow! Ang galing nung higanteng chonggo gusto ko ulit siyang makitang umaakyat sa building!” It’s not really a story you need to come back to more than once.
But then the trailers came out for Kong: Skull Island and things got interesting. A Vietnam War backdrop, 70s music, the ever beautiful and talented Brie Larson, and a hundred-foot ape snatching helicopters from the sky? I’m hooked. Clearly, this version of “Kong” is not the same as the “King Kong” our parents and grandparents grew up with. And finally seeing the movie confirmed that for me.
Kong: Skull Island takes us to an uncharted island in the South Pacific. (Hulaan mo anong pangalan nung island. Balikan mo kami pag nahulaan mo na) A team of scientist led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) has convinced the US army to send an expedition to the island. The army gives him Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking plane!” Jackson) as an escort along with a group of soldiers. In addition to Packard, Randa enlists the help of a British mercenary tracker by the name of James Conrad (Loki Hiddleswift). Rounding up the group is Mason Weaver (Brie Larson ❤), a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist who’s out to document the whole trip.
The plot is pretty straightforward and easy to follow even for those with the shortest of attention spans. Get to the island, find Kong, try to kill/capture Kong, realize you can’t kill/capture Kong, get the hell out of the island. But in a way, okay pa nga yung fact na straightforward lang yung kuwento niya because it doesn’t distract you from the spectacle of seeing Kong in all his glory stomping on tiny humans and battling giant lizard-looking things. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s the reason we watch movies like these in the first place right?
Though entertaining as the film might be, I think it suffers from inconsistencies when it comes to its tone. John C. Reilly, who plays the role of a pilot that crash landed in the island during World War II, serves as the comic relief of the movie pero masyado siyang kengkoy at times. Sometimes the shift from one tone to another can become quite awkward and doesn’t work the way the filmmakers intended them to. In one scene you’ll see someone die a hideous death by the hands of the many giant creatures on the island and then the next scene you have John C. Reilly calling them “skullcrawlers” just because it sounds cool to him. Sure, the joke works but I find that the shift in tone distracts you from the narrative.
The movie breezes through the exposition and you don’t really get to know a lot about the characters aside from background details that are mentioned through the dialogue. Loki Hiddleswift and Brie Larson aren’t really given much to do despite their obvious talents. Samuel L. Jackson plays the role that is closest to what you can consider a villain in the movie and he does this so effectively. But it’s nothing you haven’t seen him play in his recent roles.
There are scenes that you just take at face value for the sake of the narrative. In the beginning Hiddleswift and Larson are of course afraid of Kong but there’s a moment in the movie wherein the two of them encounter a gentler Kong in a tender moment. The tears in their eyes are supposed to make you believe that they suddenly realized that Kong isn’t a bad guy and that they shouldn’t hurt him. Really? That’s all it takes? Samantalang kanina nakita mong kinakain na parang saging na latundan yung mga kasama mo.
But what I like the most about the movie is that it has a new take on an old character. Having the Vietnam War era as its backdrop is an interesting choice because it’s contemporary but still not too recent. (And it gives you a great soundtrack as well) In this movie, Kong can’t climb up a building because he’s as big as a god damn building. There’s no damsel in distress that Kong falls in love with. The closest comparison would be Brie Larson’s character but you’ll see that she’s more than capable of taking care of herself. But most importantly, I like Kong: Skull Island for the spectacle and that’s what you’ll like about it also. It’s a joy to watch on the big screen and I highly recommend for you guys to watch on IMAX if you have the chance. Like Jurassic Park and Godzilla before it, this is a movie you have too see in the cinemas to fully appreciate.
Now give us that Kong vs. Godzilla movie we’ve all been waiting for.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Catch Kong: Skull Island in cinemas starting March 9.
All photos courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES.