Director :- John Vodt Roberts
Cast :- Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson
Genre :- Fantasy, Sci-Fi
At first there was the radioactive lizard grown to the size of a dinosaur fighting radiation feeding MUTO, then the biggest gorilla in cinematic history , what’s next? Anaconda fending the swamp against cannibalistic rats? The ideas people get are just whack mole crazy these days but it’s entertaining so why not just go with it!
So, the largest and most iconic gorilla in cinematic history gets a reboot as a part of Warner Bros. Monsterverse and boy was he terrifyingly amazing!
This, is my review of the Empire State Building Climber probably filled with spoilers. So, if you haven’t watched it yet you can do a few things – press the red X on the top right corner if you are on a PC or the home button and at the base of the screen if you are on a phone. If you don’t care about spoilers or have watched the movie please read below the Spoiler Alert marker.
Well, let’s look at the plot now. The movie is set against the backdrop of the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. With the Americans retreating from Vietnam after catastrophic failures. Bill Randa (John Goodman) accompanied by Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) approaches a senator to lead an expedition onto an uncharted territorial island to map it for a geographical survey marking it as the last piece of land on the face of earth that is yet to be explored. He recruits James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) as a tracker to help them navigate and survive the island. Other members join the tea, such as Lt. Col Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) and his team as their military escort with their explosives to map the island, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) as war-time Photographer who wants to survey and click photos of the habitat on the island and a team of scientists. They approach the island fending off a nightmarish storm. The seismic charges to map the island enrage the ruler of the island, a 100 foot tall gorilla who is called Kong – a god on the island. Later, it is seen that Kong is the only one who can protect the island from what are known as Skull Crawler named by the only talking survivor on the island – a World War 2 pilot having the name Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly). These two legged creatures are to Kong what MUTO’s were to Godzilla. The rest of the movie follows how Kong fights on the skull crawlers killing them and is aided by the human explorers.
This planet doesn’t belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist. – Bill Randa
That is about all the plot of the movie. There isn’t anything jaw dropping about the movie except for the scenic beauty, the wildly strange shaped animals, the miniscule nature of the humans on the island (in the start even the bushes seem taller than the people.) You have herbivorous creatures, tree sized spiders, a 100 foot gorilla (not yet a full grown adult) who can black out the sun when he moves, two leg tailed Skull Crawlers, viciously tentacle spiders etc. The island has a beautiful landscape which the movie graciously explores – there are human colonies that have built walls to protect themselves from the skull crawlers, methane exhaust fields that can instantly catch fire, open graves of creatures that have been killed by the skull crawlers and hollow underground caves.
People here used to live in fear, from everything. Then something strange happened: some of the monsters here started protecting them from the other monsters trying to kill them. – Hank Marlow
Sam L Jackson and his crew
Now, let’s see the cast. Honestly, I wanted to watch the movie for Tom Hiddleston – this man has delivered masterpieces such as the Night Manager, Loki, Crimson Peak etc. So, you know he is a distinguished actor and has considerable talent but this role of his was a clear disappointment. He was cast as a tracker retired from the SAS but his role showed no such distinguishing character traits and for most of the role he himself seemed lost. Only to the end of the movie does he start showing up his skills which by then is already too late. There are a few things you expect from a tracker – knowing the forest, marking tracks, sounds etc. Even is the land is alien there is still a certain way trackers have been known to function and sadly he didn’t perform such feats. Only in the graveyard of Kong’s parents did he start slicing the birds which was the inspiring moments otherwise his role fell flat.
Brie Larson is a war – time photographer who portrayed her role considerably well. She was always the enthusiastic one of the bunch clicking scenic photos wherever her eye caught a snap worthy photo but the Kong’s affection part felt sadly dissatisfying. In the previous incarnation of Kong where he shows affection to Naomi Watts that one was understandable due to circumstances but here it just doesn’t make any sense.
Samuel L Jackson was by far the most convincing of all actors cast here. He plays a soldier who has fought for so long that he feels his life has no greater purpose. And he sees Kong, the god who killed his men and instantly sees an enemy that he needs to kill. His act showed the trauma war leaves on soldiers and how they can’t fit in with regular people who can just as easily sit on their porch during sunset. Especially the scene where the war is over and he laments for the lack of reasoning for his men dying in the field.
John Goodman though was supposed to be the main character as he is the one leading the expedition has hardly any screen time. The military squad of Samuel L Jackson are the merry entertaining background of the film, they don’t have much to contribute individually as much as a compound punch they all together contribute such as the ‘Billy’ jokes or continuously abusing each other, those jokes were hilarious. John C Reilly was the comic relief apart from the soldiers, his jokes and his analogy of a world that he hasn’t seen since world war 2 is hilarious and the soldiers comments on calling him a ‘time traveler’ actually makes a lot of sense.
Now, there is Kong. This adaptation of the gorilla is hands down the most terrifying of them all by far. He is 100 foot tall and has the strength to shatter flying choppers with his bare hands. All the fight scenes between Kong and any other creature in the island are all beautiful, the amount of details captured related to their fighting styles, improvised punches, voices etc. are all breathtaking. It’s just a disappointment that the creature who the movie is named after doesn’t have much screen time. However I don’t know clearly why the island is called Skull Island, maybe because the Island looks like a skull or there are skull crawlers underneath whom he is fighting.
The movie however had a lot of drawbacks in concept as well. For instance, it is 1973 in the movie and somehow it doesn’t feel so. The technology, the getup of the people, the behavior etc. They could have portrayed early 2000’s and still have successfully pulled that off in the same backdrop. That along with the slop sided acting by some actors made it a good one-time watch but wasn’t a memorable reboot. Hence, I can’t tell a lot of good about the movie because I have mixed feelings about it.
But I am psyched about the Godzilla vs King Kong path that this universe is bound on chasing but unlike these two movies I wish the titular monsters get more screen time like the title says so that we all can feast on the larger than life savagery.
My Rating: – Bad script for a good ape.