War of the monsters
The genre of monster movies tends to be a guilty pleasure which is nothing more than an excuse to see oversize creatures wreak havoc as the humans scuttle around with hammy acting (Sharknado anyone?). Guillermo del Toro's 2013 masterpiece Pacific Rim may have inadvertently kicked off a Kaiju craze here in the states as studios are now channeling this deeper mythos in the genre into their latest projects. For those that don't know, the Kaiju (translated as "strange creature" in Japanese) sub-genre is Japan's monster movie equivalent to the American versions; the difference withstanding is that where in the American films the monsters are just a spectacle to watch, in Japan the creatures represent an underlying issue with society or an evil that the world is responsible for. Much like 2014's Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island follows the same route, becoming an inventive reboot as a result. The film takes place in 1973, set just after President Nixon announces the end of the Vietnam war. Government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) leads an expedition team to map out the uncharted Skull Island to study the topography and learn the secrets of the mysterious island. Upon arriving on the island, the group is violently met by the wrath and magnitude of Kong. Marooned on the island with only short window until their resupply team picks them up at the rendezvous point, the group must traverse through the deadly island but they soon realize that Kong isn't the only monster on the island....or even the most dangerous one. I could've given Kong: Skull Island the benefit of the doubt of being just another reboot, but it's fantastic CGI magic and surprisingly genuine anti-war message help it stand out among the monster movie genre. The cast, while not the most memorable, does a commendable job. Samuel L. Jackson plays the perfect warhead jerk (not like he needs to try to be one), Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson do their parts well; John C. Reilly is the one that gets the most props as he finds the perfect balance between being humorous and dramatic as a WWII veteran. While the human players are OK and all, the real meats and potatoes here are the monsters as well as the battles that ensue. Kong truly lives up to the "king" in his name as he dominates the creatures on the island, and watching him do so is seriously the best part of the whole film. Although Kong: Skull Island doesn't exactly evoke the same feeling as the original 1933 version and may feel different in terms of tone and setting, as it's own entity it does succeed in being a totally solid monster film with brilliantly paced action and it's themes on the repercussions of war. Kong: Skull Island comes highly recommended.