“Kong’s god on the island, but the devils live below us.”Hank Marlow
An unexpected mash-up of Jurassic Park 3 and Apocalypse Now results in a brash big-budget B-movie but it does nothing for its titular character beyond scaling him up to 300 feet. We see Kong express both rage and protectiveness, but there is little nuance to the giant ape. Even Rampage imbued its giant ape with some depth, but here Kong is a force of nature reacting to human intrusion. Those humans are a diverse team of scientists and specialists escorted by soldiers fresh out of the Vietnam War, though there is no substance to the numerous nods to Apocalypse Now — it serves more as an in-joke. The audience perspective is that of Tom Hiddleston’s SAS-turned-tracker and Brie Larson’s photojournalist, both of whom treat Kong with the requisite awe and respect. The remaining characters serve largely as interchangeable fodder for the island’s creatures. I can’t recall seeing credits open with a concept artist but plainly Skull Island’s varied fauna owe a debt to Crash McCreery’s designs. The producers’ end goal is clearly next year’s Godzilla vs Kong and, based on the special effects in Skull Island, one can expect it to deliver on spectacle at the very least (and, likely, at most).