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BGN Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

BGN Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

Watching Kong: Skull Island made me reminisce about Congo, one of my favorite films from the 1990s. Both films have similar premises in that humans go into unknown territory looking for trouble and find it in the worst possible way. This is the outcome of “man vs. nature”: You cannot disturb the natural order of things without consequences. Humans are to blame for their own circumstance. Why? Because humanity is our own worst enemy — always disrupting the balance, and butting in where it doesn’t belong. That is what I love about Kong: Skull Island’s overwhelming message: Hey, humans, MIND YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!

The best way to describe Kong Skull Island is a diverse team of scientists, soldiers, and adventurers unite to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific as dangerous as it is mythical. Cut off from the outside world, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape the primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

There seems to be a renewed interest in creature features, first with Godzilla in 2014, then with Jurassic World in 2015, but Kong outshines them all with a smart, fun, action-packed story, stellar cast, and stunning special effects. Thank goodness director Jordan Vogt-Roberts didn’t make the same mistakes as the incredibly annoying Godzilla or the insipid Jurassic World. As a Kong fan, I don’t want to wait more than an hour to see the character, give him to us quickly so we can enjoy him throughout the film.

The movie moves along pretty quickly because it isn’t bogged down by pointless human side stories the audience won’t care about. Skull Island has dropped the “Beauty and the Beast” narrative so don’t expect to see Kong swinging from the Empire State Building. The audience will see Kong in his natural habitat where they will also see large animals like him. A small but meaningful backstory is created, which gives Kong a bit of depth. He isn’t just a big dumb animal hell bent on destruction; he had a family and is the protector of his home.

Skull Island has a diverse ensemble cast right in the thick of things where their actions do the talking. Every actor is given a chance to be the hero, and the separate factions work collectively to do what they think is best. There is Hank Marlow (John C. Riley), who provides great banter with some stinging sarcasm and acts as an island guide for this wayward group. James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) is a post-war survivalist who rarely smiles but is solution minded. Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) is the heroic photographer who acts as the voice of reason. Lastly, there is Preston Packer (Samuel L. Jackson) who has a reason to be pissed and plans to destroy Kong and everything on the island. In this all-star cast, the different personalities make for vivid characters that will be remembered long after the film is over.

The biggest plus to Kong: Skull Island is the cinematography. Director of photography, Larry Fong (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), saturates every color and every hue to its most eye-catching. Every color pops and is almost three-dimensional. The special effects are lively, and not overly computerized. It makes you believe this island and its inhabitants actually exist. Rounding out the immersive experience is the setting. Kong Skull Island filmed across three very different locations — Hawaii, Australia, and Vietnam — and these countries provided the perfect landscapes to capture that primordial look.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when going to view Kong: Skull Island, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It is a great addition to the monster genre and takes risks with its story and content. I’m looking forward to seeing how the studios plan to expand this universe.

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