King Kong (1933/1976/2005) / King Kong Lives / Kong: Skull Island
KING KONG LIVES (PG)
KONG: SKULL ISLAND (12)
D: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Warner Bros/Legendary/Tencent (Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni & Alex Garcia)
W: John Gatins [based on the screenplay "King Kong" by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace]
DP: Larry Fong
Ed: Richard Pearson
Mus: Henry Jackman
Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad), Samuel L. Jackson (Lt. Col. Preston Packard), John Goodman (Bill Randa), Brie Larson (Mason Weaver), John C. Reilly (Hank Marlow), Toby Kebbell (Jack Chapman), Jing Tian (San Lin)
The Hollywood reboot machine continues to churn, even going as far as to ask us to ignore that classic films ever existed and just pay our money, sit out asses down and watch what is presented.
The plot of 1933's King Kong is the victim here, regurgitated into an anti-Vietnam war parable with the action based in the 1970's, rather than the roaring thirties.
A joint military-scientific mission sees a large group sent to the island of the title, where they are met with hostility by the giant ape after dropping destructive bombs willy-nilly.
Those who survive must find their way to the north side of the island to await rescue with a host of large, prehistoric beasties ready to gobble them up at every turn. The twist soon emerges that King isn't the real beast, and is actually a protector for the indigenous people of the island, but this doesn't matter to militant colonel Samuel L. Jackson, who had revenge in mind for all the blood spilt.
As a standalone film, Kong: Skull Island is very enjoyable, with some superb visual effects, and the Vietnam allegory does work for the most part. Unfortunately, sticking the knife in a classic film just doesn't sit well for me, at all, and I would have had more respect if this was a completely original work, but it's becoming increasingly clear that originality doesn't belong in Hollywood, and without slapping fake nostalgia over everything they touch, they just aren't willing to take a gamble.
It's worth noting that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts doesn't seem to take to criticism of his film well, and has defended it on Twitter with various posts... and this film is probably a good example of too many cooks spoiling the broth, as it's obvious that studio involvement was a hindrance. It's actually very well directed, but it's still a huge insult to the 1933 film, which should always be hailed as a cinematic masterpiece.
It's probably on a par with Peter Jackson's version, and is an improvement on both the 1976 King Kong and the atrocious 1986 film King Kong Lives.