The weird thing about Kong: Skull Island is that it’s not a King Kong move. It doesn’t follow the traditional arc of a King Kong movie at all. The traditional theme of, “Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast” is no where to be found in this movie. Instead they decided to take every anti-Vietnam War movie ever made and munge them all together. But instead of fighting the Viet Cong, our heroes are fighting Kong.
You got yer ugly american types who are clueless and careless about the indigenous people. You got your usual cadre and army guys pulled straight out of casting from Apocalypse Now, including one full-on crazy officer. You got the beautiful and idealistic reporter representing the anti- war movement. You got the white men gone native. Two of them actually, one crazy and one more of a mercenary. You got the peaceful socialist natives/villager who love everyone. And in the movie the part of the People’s Liberation Army of South Vietnam is played by Kong.
Kong: Skull Island is either one big inside joke or a propaganda film agitating against a war that’s been over and done with for four decades. In either case, you kinda have to ask yourself, “what’s the point?”
The point seems to be an exercise in rendering huge CGI monsters for Kong and our heroes to fight along the way. And I have to say the movie really does a good job rendering the monsters and choreographing the fight scenes.
The cast is full of A-List talent. And I give them and the director credit for not camping it up too much. There are a couple of scenes where you kinda get the impression they are trying not to smile at what they are doing. But for the most part, they play their roles as if this is a Serious War Movie.
My favorite line in the movie came from a grizzled, boots on the ground veteran known simply as Cole. He’s one messed up dude but you can can tell he’s Seen A Lot Of Action. And after our band of merry men have their first disastrous encounter with Kong who takes down their helicopters by throwing trees at them, he simply says, “There’s no tactical precedent for that. We did the best we could.” That line kinda says it all about this movie. It’s a perfect line regardless of whether you are talking about Kong or the Vietnam War.