King Kong is the Mount Everest of movies. It’s the highest pinnacle you can ever reach as a filmmaker, critic or viewer. There’s simply nothing more challenging than a truly great Kong movie. That’s why filmmakers have been attempting the ‘Perfect Kong’ for over a hundred years. But they’ve failed almost every time. There’s no two ways about it: rarely does a Kong movie deserve to be called King.
Just over ten years ago, Peter Jackson made the most recent attempt at achieving Kong shortly after proving his skills with Lord of Rings (2001). As we know now, Jackson failed us all with his Kong. It was a noble attempt but ultimately doomed by the movie’s unwieldy length.
Clocking in at seven hours and eleven minutes, the complete version of King Kong (2005) was only ever seen at film festivals. The six-hour roadshow version that toured in the U.S. and Europe was largely ignored (people just don’t have that much time for Kong these days). The four and a half hour cut that premiered at multiplexes on Christmas Day 2005 was nearly incomprehensible. To take one example, Jack Black’s twenty-minute monologue on D.W. Griffith’s theories of montage seems superfluous without the scenes preceding and following it. Unfortunately, those scenes are only available on the director’s cut Blu-Ray which was never released to the public due to the movie’s total commercial failure.
Thankfully, in Kong: Skull Island, which hit theaters this weekend, director Jordan Voight-Roberts (Angelina Jolie’s son by her first marriage to Eric Roberts) learned all the right lessons from Jackson’s fiasco. The result is the best Kong movie in over fifty years.
Kong: Skull Island is an economically paced, lightning fast movie experience. The movie runs less than hour if you don’t count trailers or end credits. Some sequences went by so fast I wished I could pause and rewind to try to understand Kong’s motivations better. That’s exactly what I want out of Kong and I got it in this movie over and over again.
Most of all, this movie succeeds by focusing on what’s important: Kong the giant gorilla and Skull Island the crazy place where he lives. While a handful of human actors do appear (Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, and a strange female Chinese I didn’t recognize) they all only feature in one or two scenes at the most with only a few lines of dialogue each.
The vast majority of the movie focuses on Kong and all the other nasty creatures inhabiting Skull Island. This is a dream come true for anyone who has wished to visit Skull Island for as long as I have. I haven’t felt so immersed in the setting of a movie since James Cameron’s Avatar. It reminded me of a documentary at times, the way we the audience are permitted to gaze at these marvelous organisms as they seek out food, shelter and optimal mates for reproduction.
TL;DR – Kong: Skull Island provides a refreshing if alarmingly brief look at the Gorilla God we all know and love in his native kingdom of fantastic beasts and where to find them.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The action and special effects are mostly first-rate and I was absolutely floored by the movie ending so abruptly midway through the climactic scene.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“Yep! You read that right. Jordan Voight-Roberts has finally achieved KONG!” – Adam Graham, Detroit News
“A fun but distressingly short monster movie that gets its best jolts from the sheer size of its fantastic beasts and where to find them.” – Schimmell Schmegettedy, Christian Science Monitor
“Look, if you want to see King Kong duking it out with the creatures and make it back to the office before your lunch hour is over, you’ve come to the right movie.” – Mervyn Shang, Ain’t It Cool News
“After all these years we finally achieved Kong, and we did it together, so we deserve to be crowned King of Skull Island. We’re all Skullcrawlers now! Next time let’s take it into space!” – Giddie Gertie Arbogast, MTV
“To make a long story short: I’ll be returning to Skull Island once or twice a year at the most.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
99% liquid & seed retention – CERTIFIED JUICY™