Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson, Will Britain, Miyayi, Richard Jenkins, Allyn Rachel, Robert Taylor, James M. Connor, Thomas Middleditch, Brady Novak.
In the 80 years since Fay Wray first fell in to the paws of the giant ape, nobody has really ever touched an audience with the tale of King Kong in the same way. That animated king of the Empire State Building, the prehistoric survivor that fell for the beauty that was forever in Ms. Wray has never really had any trouble fending off possible pretenders to its throne; they have tried to dislodge it but the first has always been arguably the best. However they keep trying and trying.
If anything Kong: Skull Island is to be seen as equal to the 1933 incarnation and like the original film it is far and away better than anything shown in cinemas in the between. Despite its immense size, the second largest Kong on film, its sheer realism is enough to draw you into the film and the conflict placed before the scientific team and those led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Preston Packard. It is this battle of wits between the weapon of man, the savagery he possesses, and innate right of Kong to defend and protect his territory that leads to the show down.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of a soldier willing to fight one last war with terrifying ease, the 1000 yard stare never more at home on screen than the one played out between his character and that of Kong; it is a monumental moment of innate oppression, hatred and fear, it is a perfect analogy to every war fought in which those in high places tell their soldiers who they must hate, who they must look in the eyes of and see the devil; it is in this that film reaches the heights that it was surely intended.
With Brie Larson able to catch on film the expression of the wide eyed optimist and haunted look of terror beyond any stretch of sanity with incontestable pleasure, the film has more than a reason to pull you in the right direction and whilst the story might rely on the so called monsters more than some might like, it asks the very salient question of exactly who is the monster, and the answer is quite unpalatable and unforgiving.
A truly remarkable version of the King Kong story, bold in its vision, true to the ideals set down by Merian C. Cooper nearly a century ago but also one that appreciates the fine complexity of not making a monster film one riddled with too many clichés, there should after all be a little tingle down the spine as you look upon something so terrifying, something that should be ordinary but is unbelievably blown out proportion to the human eye and given that speck of humanity which makes it the most dangerous thing on Earth.
A monster of film, brilliantly captured, Kong: Skull Island is a winner.
Ian D. Hall