Kong: Skull Island ★★★★★

Kong: Skull Island is an incredibly fun kaiju movie with great action, beautiful cinematography and memorable characters. Col. Packard, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is a really interesting human antagonist. His life has been consumed by war, to the point where he feels lost if he doesn’t have a war to fight. This is why he is so eager to go to war with Kong. Hank Marlowe, played by John C. Reilly, is my favorite human character in the movie. He is the complete opposite of Packard in that he has made peace with himself during his years on Skull Island, even befriending the Japanese pilot he was fighting when he arrived on the island. The scene at the end of the movie where he reunites with his family always brings tears to my eyes.

Kong is portrayed very well in this movie. The Monsterverse Kong is, except for maybe Peter Jackson’s Kong, my favorite version of the character. I think something that some people don’t realize is that the kaiju in these movies are characters too. I have spent time in previous reviews expressing the importance of the human characters in these movies, but the best kaiju movies also have monsters with a lot of character. Godzilla is a perfect example of this. The king of the monsters is a character that can be portrayed equally well as both a terrifying force of destruction and a heroic savior of humanity. As more examples, you have the disturbing, completely alien nature of Hedorah in Godzilla vs Hedorah, the tragedy of Titanosaurus in Terror of Mechagodzilla, the fighting spirit of Gamera in all of his movies, and the evil, manipulative Iris in Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. There is a quote from Ishiro Honda that is often referenced because it perfectly summarizes the nature of the monsters in these movies:

Monsters are tragic beings; they are born too tall, too strong, too heavy, they are not evil by choice. That is their tragedy.

The Monsterverse has done a really great job of giving character to all of the kaiju within its movies. Kong is a truly tragic monster. He is a lonely figure, the last of his kind, who has spent his entire life fighting the denizens of Skull Island. He is very similar to Col. Packard in a way, in that his life feels like a neverending war. Toby Kebbell does a great job portraying Kong via motion capture. I, for one, am very excited to see what happens to both Kong and Godzilla in Godzilla vs Kong.

There are so many other things I enjoy about Kong: Skull Island. The setting of Skull Island is really fun to explore (I am really looking forward to the Monsterverse’s Skull Island anime which is in development.) The final battle between Kong and the skullcrawler is one of the most fun, creative kaiju battles I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Mason Weaver (portrayed by Brie Larson), Bill Randa (portrayed by John Goodman), and Cole (portrayed by Shea Whigham), are other human characters that I enjoy watching. Kong: Skull Island is just a really fun movie, and I will never grow tired of it. I am truly thankful for the Monsterverse, and I think that the movies within this universe are very underrated and underappreciated.

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