skull island

Originally released in March of this year, Kong: Skull Island is a new take on the classic King Kong story. I saw this movie at the cinema and was eager to see how it transfers to DVD & Bluray.

Kong, or at least this version of the movie, was rumoured to be the first in a series of movies that dealt with the fabled leviathans of the movie screen – the Kaiju. First is Kong: Skull Island, second in the line is supposed to be Godzilla 2 and the third is Kong vs Godzilla. Now whether the third movie will be a versus movie or an actual team-up movie is something we have yet to discover, but either way it explains why this latest incarnation of the fabled Kong is so big. I mean really big, and he’s only a youngster too.

Warning ther are spoilers ahead.

The movie opens in 1944, and as you might guess World War 2 is still underway. Two fighter pilots – one an American and the other Japanese, are engaged in a tense dog fight over an island in the South Pacific. They end up damaging each others planes and  parachute onto the island. They find each other and engage is close hand to hand combat, with Ikari, the Japanese pilot managing to subdue and nearly kill Hank, the American pilot. However the fight is interrupted by the arrival of a giant ape who we later come to know as Kong.

Now we jump forward to 1973 and U.S. government agent Bill Randa hires former SAS Captain James Conrad, played by Tom Hiddleston, to guide an expedition to map out aa newly discovered island that they have dubbed Skull Island. The island has been discovered in recent satellite photgraphs of the area. Little does Conrad know, but Randa, played by John Goodman, is part of a super secret branch of the US government called Monarch that deals with unusual phenomena – and this is his last chance to prove that his department has any use.

They manage to get a military escort, called the Sky Devils, who are a helicopter squadron led by Leiutenant Colonel Preston Packard, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and his subordinates, Major Jack Chapman and Captain Earl Cole. Strangely the group is joined by photojournalist Mason Weaver, (Brie Larson), who believes the expedition has a secret agenda. She isn’t wrong. None of what I have said so far spoils the movie, it merely sets it up.

Hiddleston plays a great angst ridden ex-soldier that has seen too much of war, whilst Jackson provides us with the flip side of the coin. He’s obsessed with battle and becomes more so throughout the movie. Meanwhile Brie Larson shows us how easy it is for her to play a strong willed tough woman with a soft side. Can’t wait to see her as Captain Marvel. Goodman plays a surprisingly unflappable role, often being the voice of reason but also hanging on to his secrets for as long as he has to. The rest of the cast do a sterling job and make a basic monster movie more interesting with believable characters.

Now, I could go on and reveal the whole story, but where is the fun in that. Lets face it, if you are reading this review you want to know how the movie transfers to the small screen, especially if you haven’t seen it at the cinema. Well, the DVD print is about as good as it can get. It upscales well to HD on my 4K Samsung. The Bluray edition is even sweeter as it offers a nicer, clearer image even when upscaled to 4K. I use my LG player Bluray player for this. There is no discernable loss of quality. Unfortunately I only had the single disk version to review, so I cannot tell you about the Digital or 3D prints of the movie.

This is not your classic Kong movie. It doesn’t follow the classic storyline. Instead it acts as an interesting prequel to the second Godzilla movie – which may be set before the first one. As a stand alone movie it offers enough new plot to make it interesting and at the same time introduces so new “Fortean” style ideas to the plot. As I mentioned earlier it also introduces us to the classic Kaiju which have been immortalised in many Japanese monster movies in years past.

The pacing of the movie is a little stuttery at times, with both frantic action and character filled moments and some might find this frustrating but fear not – it’s all worthwhile. Those slow moments set up secondary characters that you care about and this leads to some poignant moments in the film.

Kong: Skull Island is a combination of war and monsters and at times it’s similarity to Apocolypse Now is uncanny, especially when you consider the mad 1970’s rock soundtrack that seems to pervade many of the most manic and action filled moments. This movie is not for everyone and fans of the original story may not like this take on it, but it is worth getting for your collection. This is a movie I can watch again and again, and see a little more every time. Plus, that music!

A solid 3 to 4 star movie, depending upon whether you like action movies with monsters in. I do, so you can see where I stand on this.

Released on between July 18th in the US and 24th in the UK on Digital, DVD and Bluray.

PS. Stay for the after credits scene and turn the volume up on your surround system if you have one.

 

A review by Louis Turfrey
louis@lightsabre.co.uk