Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★★

Against my initial assumptions, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that Kong: Skull Island not only holds up on a second rewatch – the first being a t*rrent – but it’s got quite a lot to it thematically. There seems to be a trend with ambitious blockbusters of the 2010s that people find nitpicky critiques in an attempt to bash the film, or at least with these MonsterVerse films, and I find that although some of the criticisms of Kong: Skull Island are maybe more valid than Edwards’ film in the series, I still find that Vogt-Roberts has some sort of intention and maybe, just maybe, people aren’t reading too deeply into what he’s doing with the film.

My major problem with the film when I first viewed it was that it’s basically Vogt-Roberts doing his own rendition of Apocalypse Now and I still stand by that criticism, albeit I’ve detracted some of it: yes, it’s extremely distracting to watch because we’re constantly reminded of that film and it seems like Vogt-Roberts was only making this film to showcase his undying love for Coppola’s masterpiece. But the intention there is akin to the almost dream-like beauty of the original King Kong, a film birthed from the imagination of possibilities – the influence that it has had on film is unquestioned and I find that Vogt-Roberts' passion for Cinema and what it’s meant to him is on full-display here.

Thematically, the film continues the human insignificance exploration that Edwards’ film lays out – this time, it’s placed towards the end of the Vietnam war, where America was realizing that they were losing; Sam Jackson’s character is the key to this film’s correlation – on top of the fact that Vogt-Roberts has created a film that is completely Anti-American in concept and creation (which, if we’re being honest, I’m all for). Jackson’s character, towards the beginning of the film, sits at his desk and looks over at his possessions: we get a clear sense of melancholy from him, not because he is being deployed but because he is returning home failing his country. When he is given the chance to dive back into a mission, he jumps at the chance.

There can be an argument that this works itself into another example of 2010s films that are scathing critiques of American life and culture: think Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris or American Sniper as examples of this. Jackson’s character is someone who believes in America’s supremacy, who believes in the idea that Man is God. When he realizes the country is pulling out of Vietnam, he becomes disillusioned and believes his time in Vietnam was pointless – he gravitates towards the mission because he has to gain control and he has to prove that Man is still in control, that America is still in control. Through him, countless individuals meet their end on Skull Island, choosing ignorance over the logic and reasoning from John C. Reilly’s character, who is legitimately giving an incredible performance.

But like Godzilla: 2014, the American Man is not in control: history has proven this – the setting is also extremely pivotal in this being evident – and through death and destruction, blinded ignorance and compensation, Kong, like his lizard counterpart, makes this extremely clear that Man is not a God. And when those two meet up... who the fuck knows what’s going to happen.

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