In an overcrowded world of superheroes battling super villains, just one fight matters to be seen on celluloid – The King of Monsters (Godzilla) versus The King of Apes (Kong). It’s a shame that inspite of the century old existence of these characters, not a single filmmaker has done justice to them. Batman V Superman, Cap V Iron Man, all seem puny when compared with these gods of annihilation. While Godzilla is a 300-feet tall fusion of Whale and Gorilla, Kong is a colossal Ape. People have been debating over the years as to who will win this death battle. Thankfully, we are heading towards that amazeballs moment as the post-credits scene in Kong: Skull Island (yes, stick around for it) hints that it’s going to happen very soon. As of now, we have this solo Kong film, the second entry in the shared universe established by Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014).
The story is set in the dwindling days of Vietnam War. It is 1973 and scientists from Monarch Institute (first heard of in Godzilla) discover satellite images of an uncharted island in the South Pacific.
Assembling a group of handy fellas and a troop of US Army, they charter an expedition to the aforementioned island. As soon as they reach the destination and drop bombs for recording seismic activity, the monster appears and knocks out the squadron, one by one.
What happens next is for you to unfold.
Skull Island has a neat screenplay. At a run time of two hours, it is very well structured. If you were disappointed with Godzilla’s little appearance in Edwards’ reboot, rejoice because Kong has plenty of screen time. And it isn’t just him who shows up.
The film has half a dozen fantastic beasts (pun intended), equally weird and spectacular to look at. It’s a commendable move by the makers to expand the world of Kong rather than stick to the primitive creatures as the new animals are fun to contemplate.
And we have Larry Fong (300, Batman V Superman), the incredible man behind the camera to capture the breathtaking scenery with aplomb and style.
Kong has, hands down, some of the most magnificent visuals ever seen. The very first encounter of the squadron with the behemoth is astounding.
Seeing the choppers march rhythmically in slow-motion towards him is simply gasp worthy. And it’s a treat to experience it on IMAX.
Huge credit goes to the VFX artists for giving us the best version of Kong (even if not the tallest) with effortless detailing. His roars and chest pounds never felt more real. Sure it was the team behind Jurassic Park to pioneer such feat but VFX artists of Kong do themselves proud.
Apart from the spectacle, the biggest USP of Skull Island (referring to Jordan Roberts) is how it perfectly balances its elaborate cast of Oscar-winning actors and extracts the best from them.
Be it Brie Larson (not a damsel in distress) as the anti-war photographer, Tom Hiddleston as the former British Air Force major, John Goodman as the senior Monarch official, Samuel L. Jackson (the standout performer) as the squadron leader, or John. C. Reilly as the departed lieutenant; everyone is flawless in portraying their roles.
We have seen numerous adventure films before with badly etched characters. But kudos to the writers, every actor gets a meatier role with a backstory compelling enough for viewers to care for them.
The body count is expectedly on the higher side but the violence isn’t too graphic for children. The final showdown (comprising of a memorable scene featuring Brie Larson) however may frighten the faint hearted.
Overall, Kong: Skull Island is a bang-for-your-buck popcorn film which delivers bucket full of thrills and big screen spectacle. It has a fabulous cast, stunning camerawork, impeccable visual effects. And a script strong enough to give this summer season a rip-roaring start.
By Mayank Nailwal