|Starring||Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman|
|Release||10 MAR (UK) Certificate 12A|
It's not dumb luck though. There is an art to be found in the economical storytelling here, without which the action wouldn't be able to take center stage. In the preamble before approaching Skull Island, characters introduce themselves perfectly with just one or two lines. "You're a war photographer" Jackson's Lieutenant Colonel Packard says dismissively of Larson's camera-wielding Weaver. "I'm an anti-war photographer" she corrects firmly. And thus her main character trait is cemented and a central conflict is established. It would all seem very impressive to anyone interested in screenwriting, but there just isn't time to contemplate it before Kong shows up and starts swatting helicopters out of the sky like a child trying to catch bubbles.
There's other stuff to admire on a critical level too, like how the film maintains a deft touch of humour throughout the entirety of its running time, or how King's own fierce determination is perfectly mirrored visually with the film's developing antagonist (I won't say who for fear of spoilers), or even how a common theme of family abandonment is explored in different ways with separate characters. But seriously, who gives a shit when you have a massive fuck-off primate crushing vehicles, rocks and lives with his big leathery claws?
Let's be honest, that's all that really matters. Kong's brutal presence pervades throughout while his monstrous island-mates are made up of truly horrifying Cloverfield-alikes, one paralysingly scary spider and one impossibly adorable tree creature. All of these provide action on a titan scale while the soldiers and civilians stranded on the island are trying to survive at ground-level. It all amounts to plenty of gruesome violence and frenetic peril.
Plus, whether it's Kong swinging a tree at a mega-monster's jaw or a gas-masked Tom Hiddleston scything his way through bird-beasts in a haze of green poison like some kind of slow-motion samurai gimp, there are so many money-shots in this movie, it has already grossed enough cash to purchase a lifetime's supply of bananas for a real-life King Kong.
Based on this beautifully absurd entry, the proposed Monsterverse just got a major upward swing. Not that this story is told with an overt eye on a widening franchise - Vogt-Roberts manages to create a sense of world-building, but concentrates predominantly on the very isolated events of just this film. At the very least though, whether it's versus Godzilla, Mothra, Stay Puft or the toddler in Honey I Blew Up The Baby, this film makes you believe that a sequel showing an epic fight between two great big bollocking behemoths might just be the best thing ever. In the battle of substance over spectacle, King Kong has just hit back in a big way. And long may he reign.