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Growing up, I loved monster movies. From Godzilla to Jurassic Park, no matter how goofy the costume of the monster, or how cheesy the special effects, I loved these films and was mystified by their ability to excite and scare. But my favorite monster of them all was King Kong. I remember my grandfather taking me to see Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 2005 and gasping when I first saw Kong in the theater, I was scared but couldn’t look away. Now, 12 years later and Kong: Skull Island is a new take on the Kong story. This colorful film had me laughing and gasping the whole time. However its intense visuals at times and overall violent nature may make this film too much for younger viewers.
Kong: Skull Island is produced by Legendary Entertainment, responsible for the monster movie revival in the past few years with such films as Godzilla and Pacific Rim. The film follows (like always) a team traveling to the mysterious Skull Island in search of untold wonders. However, while the Kong story usually takes place in the 1940s, this time it is the 70s right at the end of Vietnam. The United States has learned that Russia is planning to travel to Skull Island soon and want to beat them to the punch. They send a team of scientists accompanied by a notorious tracker (Tom Hiddleston), an anti-war photographer (Brie Larson), and a group of soldiers led by a no-nonsense general (Samuel L. Jackson). But when they arrive on the island they are immediately attacked by the one and only Kong. The massive ape destroys the helicopters one by one until everyone has either crashed on the island or met a terrible fate. Now stranded, they must regroup and get to the North end of the island in the hopes of being saved by a ship scheduled to arrive in three days. But the team will soon learn that there are bigger threats on the island than Kong.
This film is awesome in the truest sense. I saw the film in Imax 3D and the first time I saw Kong, my jaw actually dropped and a chill ran down my spine. Every shot had some sort of reference to show just how huge Kong was, whether by showing him holding a helicopter in one hand or standing next to a mountain. The other creatures found on Skull Island were also terrifyingly cool. Without giving too much away the designs of most of these creatures were so nice to look at, whether they were gross or beautiful they always looked like they were real which helped keep me immersed in the world. The colors of the film also surprised me. For most of the film, the colors in the film are very reminiscent of Apocalypse Now with the many shades of yellow. Though it remained original by adding vibrant colors throughout the film to accent these yellows. Overall the film looked great. Unfortunately however, like all classic monster movies, the visuals always out weigh the writing. I was never sure if the film was purposely trying to be funny or not because of the awkward writing. There was a strange combination of serious scenes and funny scenes that did not flow smoothly and left me confused. I also feel this film needs to be seen in Imax 3D. This format lowed me to feel completely immersed in this world and felt the impact of all the action. Finally, while this film is PG-13, I feel if there is a spectrum, is ways closer to the PG-13/R rating. There was a surprising amount of swearing and gore. As a result I do not think this film is suitable for young kids. Much of the violence is very over the top and unrealistic which helped but it would still be concerned of potential nightmares. When the film was about 15 minutes in and we finally saw Kong wreak havoc, a family with three children left likely because of Kong being too scary for them. If your child really wants to see the film and is used to big Hollywood violence then this should not be a problem but I would still proceed with caution.
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Overall Kong: Skull Island was a fun film, nothing overly complicated in terms of story and the visuals were great. If you have a similar love of monsters as I do this is something to check out, and if you are not it may be a nice introduction to the genre. I give Kong: Skull Island a 3 out of 5