DIRECTOR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts STARRING: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly PRODUCER: Thomas Tull, John Jashni, Mary Parent, Alex Garcia SCREENWRITER: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
BASED ON: King Kong by Merian C. Cooper MUSIC: Henry Jackman CINEMATOGRAPHER: Larry Fong EDITOR: Richard Pearson GENRE: Sci-Fi PRODUCTION COMPANY: Legendary Pictures, Tencent Pictures DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures COUNTRY: United States LANGUAGE: English RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMAQ rating: V14
In 1973, the US sends a team to an uncharted island in the South Pacific—that is perpetually enveloped in clouds and is recently discovered by satellite—to see if the island is inhabited. British agent James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former Special Air Services captain, is hired to be chief hunter-tracker, while Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel Jackson), heads the military’s helicopter squadron, the Sky Devils, to chopper the team to Skull Island. The only woman in this team of soldiers and scientists is an anti-war Life photographer, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who suspects the mission is a military operation hiding a dark agenda. Scattered and scampering for safety after their choppers are crushed like toy drones by a 100-foot tall bipedal ape, some team members encounter stranded American pilot Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), and get to come up close and personal with Kong.
Kong: Skull Island opens with two WWII fighter pilots engaged in hand combat; as one is about to kill the other, a giant ape appears, interrupting the fight and making the combatants flee for dear life. This prologue is essential to the plot’s unfolding. If you expect the story to be about an oversized simian getting infatuated with a beautiful human female, you’ll be disappointed. Kong here is a celibate loner, the last of his kind, is revered by the island’s human population as god and king, and picks only on enemies his size. The film’s CGI, especially the ones with Kong fighting the alpha Skullcrawler and the monstrous octopus, combined with a humane story and a dash of humor should make entranced audiences feel how 118 minutes fly so swiftly.
Kong: Skull Island is really about the beauty of the beast. It may be fiction, meant to entertain us, but the movie teases the imagination and offers many points worthy of discussion. For one, there is something poignant about a formidable ape—who’s two and a half times as tall as Luneta’s Rizal Monument—protecting the environment and a lost human tribe from giant predators. Are simians supposed to be that intelligent and compassionate that they could put to shame military characters who out of smugness would mindlessly destroy the life and beauty in an unknown territory? Another is destructive human aggressiveness: consider the bombing of Skull Island and ask why humans make such powerful, destructive weaponry—is it just out of self-preservation and national defense, or out of a lust to conquer territories ahead of a rival world power? Which is more frightening, man-made violence or the wrath of nature provoked? CINEMA cautions elders (who may be intending to watch a DVD copy of the movie at home) to keep children out of the viwing area. Grisly deaths and multiple dangers facing characters in the movie might prove too scary, even traumatic, for them.