From the makers of Godzilla, you can see from the outset that this is going to be more in the classic monster movies vain than a Kong movie. Which for me personally is good, I always found Kong movies rather dull. Circling around an ape loving a girl and ending up dead. I had little intention of seeing this movie even with Tom Hiddleston in a featured role, assuming it would be in the same style. Until I saw the trailers hit, showing a blockbuster full feature action adventure story. For once, cinema promo did its job bringing a vast quantity of 'nervous' viewers to the production.
We start with e few views of a mysterious island surrounded by permanent storms, which over the years has claimed the lives of accidental arrivals. Causes boats to run aground, planes to crash. Now, while the Vietnam war is raging John Goodman plays a scientist who is assumed crazy trying to put together a team to investigate the island and the monsters he is convinced inhabit it. He is losing all his funding on various projects, assumed a quack after spending half his life traveling trying to prove monsters are real with no success.
With one last scheme approved he sets himself to gathering a team to try to make his life's work worth the suffering. They intend to 'piggy back' on another scientific expedition to the island, going into land while the others stay on the boat investigating the weather phenomenon. Deciding he needs a tracker, they go on the hunt for someone as dangerous as they can. Locating Tom Hiddleston in a bar, causing fights. One of those people who never wanted to come back from war. Bribing him with a large amount of money he agrees to come with them. After an extremely amusing scene, delivered with the perfect level of wry sarcasm on how many ways they were going to die. Using it as an excuse to bump up the offered fee.
They also manage to find themselves with military escort, headed by Samuel L Jackson. The commanding officer of a team from Vietnam who can't see a future for himself after the war. A man who clearly lives only for battle, and becomes increasingly unstable as the production continues.
Of course, no team is complete without the random half-dressed woman to bring the 'love interest' and the horny teenage men to the screening. We gain that in Brie Larson a photographer, who becomes suspicious when three sources tell her the exact same 'cover story' word for word. She isn't the only one who becomes suspicious at their journey towards the island when they discover a vast quantity of bombs on board the boat. Along with armored helicopters and a large military presence. Goodman might be hiding the monster from the team, but the preparations speak for themselves.
Once they gain access to the island, they start dropping seismic charges to measure the ground trying to prove a 'hollow earth' theory. Yeah, you got it. They came to a brand new island no one has ever seen, and before they even get out of their copters to see who might be living there they start bombing the hell out of it. Such a great idea of course! When a 100-foot tall gorilla turns up smashing the helicopters up after you woke him blowing holes out of his home. Jackson takes the rash choice that Kong is the enemy, starting to attack it. Kong shows great intelligence as he destroys them, using copter's to destroy others taking them down as quickly as possible. Killing 90% of the men.
Scattered on the ground, they start to try and make their way to the other side of the island where they are being picked up in three days time. Jackson determined to find every piece of weaponry he can to destroy Kong, while the science team, heading by Hiddleston end up exploring the island more carefully finding a whole race of people who live there in peace with Kong. Considering him to be their God and protector from lizard creatures who live under the earth. Lizards that were woken by the bombing, that Kong had to deal with so they didn't harm his humans. We discover this from John C Reilly, a soldier who crash-landed there in 1944 and has been surviving there as best he could ever since with the help of the natives and a Japanese soldier (now dead) who also crashed.
I think the rest of this film can be summed up in two short sentences.
Sometimes you only find an enemy because you are looking for one. spoken by one of the soldiers.
What do I know? I've only been here 28 years!" Spoken by Reilly when they kept insisting on covering land he told them was dangerous.
If they hadn't broken those two ideals, they would have gone home with most of their men still alive.
This is a highly enjoyable action flick, a good mix of the Island of Doctor Morro, Godzilla and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Mixing in enough of a good old fashioned monster movie, with romance, friendship, and stunning action sequences to keep anyone happy. Dotted with enough tender moments that you feel a lot of empathy for the characters. Well, other than Jackson whom you will spend most of the movie going 'dear God, someone kill him already!' Some powerful messages about war, tolerance and working together whoever you are, are included in this piece which I feel are highly appropriate for the current climate.
I am told there is a post credits scene by google, but I have to admit I didn't stay for it. So oops, I have to go see it again :)
Go see it today
Sarah Beth James