I’ll be honest, I still get a little kid thrill of excitement at the prospect of a “monster” movie. Films like Jurassic Park and Godzilla take me back to being a kid, when I’d make a cape out of my bed sheets to huddle in as I enjoyed watching the monsters unleash their power on unsuspecting and often stupid characters. Kong: Skull Island is no exception.
Despite the backlash of another Kong movie, I was still excited because if nothing else – damn, that gorilla is going to look so real. But I was pleasantly surprised. Ultimately, yes, the graphics are spectacular. Kong comes alive like nothing else; technology sure has changed since the time of plastic monsters terrorising miniature cities. But there’s also some sadness to it: through dramatically realistic CGI, Kong transforms into a lonely idol, protecting an island that fears him. There’s a beauty that comes with the island and its gigantic, gentle beasts. Most of the characters fail to see this, except for photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).
What she captures is the balance between good and bad, how – to quote Jurassic Park – “life finds a way”, and the destruction of humankind.
After a friend saw Kong: Skull Island, she said to me: “Americans ruin everything, even imaginary islands”, and while I couldn’t stop laughing, there was an air of truth to her quip. The film, with its softly-spoken British hero Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) against the ambitious, all-or-nothing US soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Packard, pokes gentle fun at the way the US steamrolls over the rest of the world.
All in all, Kong: Skull Island is more a war film than a monster movie. It’s chest-thumping, roaring good fun. It’s the start of something great. Word of advice: stay until after the credits. Don’t make the same mistake I did…