Fri | Sep 22, 2017

'Kong: Skull Island', not that scary

Published:Monday | March 13, 2017 | 3:00 AMDamian Levy
A team of explorers and soldiers cross into a monsters domain in ‘Kong: Skull Island’.

The eighth wonder of the world is back this week. I can't count the number of times King Kong has graced the silver screen, but Kong: Skull Island is his latest, but not greatest.

This modern take on the classic film is set in a post-Vietnam war 1973. The perfect time to find military presence in the South Pacific - the very same region of Skull Island. Scientist and opportunist Bill Randa, played by John Goodman, decides to use that presence and charter a 'research expedition' on Skull Island itself. Once they get there, they must survive the land of monsters and chief of all, Kong himself.

Much like Godzilla in the 2014 film of the same name, Kong is more or less a force of nature in this film. His savagery is what comes across in this iteration. There are still hints of humanity to the giant ape, especially since Kong spends most of his time on two legs instead of four. However, even that is used to juxtapose Kong's brutal nature against the very humans who fear him. There's a running theme of "who are the real monsters?" running through the film.

The film has other ideas it likes to play with, even using the adventure as an allegory for the United States mentality after losing the Vietnam War. Samuel Jackson's character 'Preston Packard', is the avatar for this idea, but it's never developed organically. Instead, characters in Kong: Skull Island react to things like no human genuinely would. There's no sense of genuine shock and awe when they're made aware of giant monstrous creatures, and if there is, it's short-lived. I was taken out of the movie several times by the characters whose behaviour in the situation felt less probable than the 100-foot ape fighting lizard monsters.

Within the first 20 minutes of the film, I saw a giant ape throw helicopters into each other, to a 1970s classic rock soundtrack. I also saw characters that made me laugh, both with them and at them. It is a monster movie with light scares, moments that thrill, and at its worst, it's the type of bad that's easy to have fun with.