New to On Demand: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Travel with me to an uncharted island in the Pacific during the 1970s. There is a constant storm that surrounds this majestic gem of lush green landscape. Under the guise of a mission to map the surface of this remote wilderness, a team of scientists and soldiers are about to realize that they are not alone on this island in Kong: Skull Island.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) has searched for many things that were thought of as crazy. A senior operative with Monarch Industries, he gathers a team and sets out on an amazing adventure.

His team includes the best tracker he can find, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). Conrad is a former SAS agent and is 100 percent motivated by money, but he’s one of the best in the region. Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) is a war photographer who senses something is up and wants to be in the middle of it. Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) is being drawn down from the Vietnam War but is not quite ready to give up the fight. And a number of additional soldiers, scientists and others travel through the storm to this undiscovered skull-shaped island.

Once there, it is immediately clear they are not alone. The island has one king, a larger-than-life primate known only as Kong. After their initial encounter with the ape, the team encounters some of island natives as well as an American, Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), whose plane went down on the island some 28 years earlier during World War II. He’s as crazy as a man stranded on an island inhabited by large and destructive creatures might be.

Before long, it is clear their team and all the men and women who are there have one goal: Survive, and get off the island.

A friend of mine asked if we really need another King Kong movie? My answer — yes, because these types of films can evoke memories of the movies that have come before, and when done right they are pure escapism. Kong: Skull Island was just that and then some, as it never takes itself too seriously and it gives us the grand scale we expect.

The cast is really strong for a new monster movie. Hiddleston is top-notch and delivers an effortless performance. Larson shows she has the chops to go toe-to-toe with anyone, man or beast, and Jackson and Reilly bring their personalities to two of the more fun characters in the film.

That is important because Kong finds a way to add a comedic element to the otherwise serious action film. It is those tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek moments that give a light and fun feel to the film.

Kong is obviously the star here — without a believable monster, this film would implode. His motions and actions are brought to the screen in such a way that we believe his every move. The crafting of our main monster and all the other inhabitants, above and below the surface of Skull Island, is what makes our action sequences thrilling and fun.

Sure, bottom line, this film is ridiculous on so many levels. Truly unbelievable to some extent in so many aspects, but exactly what we want — good fun! And yes, the good folks at Warner Bros. have given us a very cool post-credits scene, so don’t get up and head for the exit too quickly.

Kong: Skull Island is not a film to reinvent the wheel — just a reimagining of life on the island that Kong calls home. Witty dialogue that sometimes elicits groans and sometimes elicits chuckles breaks up the action that peppers the last half of the film and really creates a satisfying monster movie. Kong is King.

Kong: Skull Island premieres On Demand July 18. Check your cable system for availability.