Remember the 1970s King Kong movie? The one with hippie Jeff Bridges and Skull Island being discovered because some greedy businessmen were looking for oil? Yeah, well, if you don't remember it, do NOT watch it again. It's bad. Really, really bad. I'm just saying that it's so fucking bad that I am surprised as hell that the people who thought to relaunch the King Kong Franchise in 2017 actually said "Hey! You know what would be a perfect setting for our new Kong feature? The goddamn 1970s, man!"
The hair and clothing, the language... just the FEEL of the 70s is offputting. So I am shocked as hell that this movie was as fun as it was. It was actually more Apocalypse Now and Platoon than it was 1976 Kong, and for that, I am grateful.
Yes, I am one of those movie guys who worships the original 1933 Kong as not only the greatest monster movie ever made, but one of the most amazing pieces of cinematic history ever produced. And yes, I admit to even loving the 2005 Peter Jackson King Kong too, warts and all. And if you can't concede that the last 30 minutes of that giant ape flick weren't absolutely beautiful, then you're a goddamn robot.
Anyway, I am here to preach about Kong: Skull Island. Whatever movie producer got super high one night after doing a bunch of blow off a Thai hooker's ass and gave the following word-salad to his friend: Giant monkey, that fat guy from Rosanne, Vietnam, Loki, weird tattoos on strange natives, Samuel Motherfuckin' Jackson, helicopters, and hippies!... I commend you, man. You are a service to the industry.
For those who don't know, the movie goes a little something like this: There's this mysterious island in the South Pacific that's never been charted until 1973. Just when the war in 'Nam was wrapping up, one of the first U.S. mapping satellites found this Skull Island, and now John Goodman and his people from MONARCH want the government to fund an expedition for them to go to this island before the Ruskies get there first and discover whatever it is that island has been hiding.
So in comes Samuel L. Jackson as a Lt. Colonel of some helicopter brigade who's going home after Nixon calls the war off. Sam hasn't quite found what he'd been looking for in life yet, so he jumps at the chance to take these pasty scientists to this "Skull Island" and do all their experiments, and search for their secret science shit. Oh, and Tom Middletown-Hiddlespin and that chick who's going to play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Avengers movies costar as pretty people among the sea of ugly soldiers and dorky nerds.... Holy shit! That's Nick Fury, Loki, and Captain Marvel all in one non-Marvel movie! Wow...
Okay, so they get to Skull Island, and John Goodman's MONARCH guy uses
bombs scientific instruments to bring out the big ape that he was looking for (well, he knew there was SOME sort of massive unidentified terrestrial organism on the isle, but he didn't quite know what it was... He was just looking for proof for more funding). Well, Kong appears, and he's the biggest that he's ever been, and he's one pissed off monkey.
Kong trashes all the military helicopters, killing most of the men, and leaving the rest stranded on the island that is a real live Hell on Earth, full of giant man-eating insects, killer crow-beasts, and lots of meat-osauruses hungry for their next meal. The survivors of the great ape attack must then make their way to the North end of the island in 3 days where their rescue crew is going to meet them and hopefully get them home alive. Small spoiler, a shit-ton of them don't make it.
Kong: Skull Island is more amusing than a barrel of monkeys with automatic weaponry! The creators of this cinematic fun-fest learned from the mistakes of previous monster movies, and not only showed us plenty of the King himself (without hiding him in shadows, or only displaying his mad monkey-fighting skills in the rain during last 10 minutes), but they made him believable. No, I'm not talking about him looking realistic (which he is, relatively speaking), but I mean they made him a real character with heart and a purpose in his life. When I found myself rooting for him against some of the humans, I had to laugh. I honest to god was just thinking of him as a character, and not a bunch of pixels generated by a computer.
The 1970s soundtrack was pretty good, and the basic plot was fine too, but honestly, the only reason that anyone is ever going to watch this thing is for the monsters fighting a bunch of 'Nam-hardened soldiers, and John C. Reilly being all crazy-like. And in that regard it does not disappoint.
I am now very interested in seeing what Warner Bros. plans to do with the rest of their shared giant monster universe. If this Kong goes head-to-head with 2014's Godzilla, that is going to be one hell of a fisticuff fight! Bring it on!
*I am just pleased as a monkey in a hot spring bath for my good friend, Kong. I've known him ever since Toho Pictures brought him over to Japan in the early 60s so that we could do that versus movie together. We had an absolute BLAST! And the old pro taught me a thing or two about acting in the "American style." He's a true professional... A true professional.
I did try to warn him back in the mid 70s though, not to get involved in that new King Kong movie that Hollywood was brewing up. "Kong," I said to him, "stay away from anything with hippies in it." You see, I learned after doing that one motion picture with Hedorah, that Smog Monster guy. Ugh, hippies ruin everything good in life.
Anyway, I said to him, "Kong, let Mighty Joe Young do it! It'll do nothing but hurt your career!" But he didn't listen. They never listen. I think that he was afraid that he'd lose the rights to the name "KING KONG" if he wasn't always in every remake of his original movie. I can understand where he's coming from if that is the case, but oh man that movie stung, both him and viewing audiences. Oh, it was simply terribly. A total stinker. It was so bad that it was another 30 years before anybody could get the big galoot back in front of the camera again. No, that wasn't him in King Kong Lives, with that Terminator lady in that mid 80s movie. This is a little known fact, but that was in fact one of the Gargantuan brothers who took that role. They just used heavy prosthetics on the poor schlep.
It wasn't until the guy who made one of Kong's favorite movie serials of all time — and I speak of The Lord of the Rings movies — came up with the idea of making an epic, romantic, and actually well-acted movie starring Kong that my pal decided to give film making one last chance.
He had such a blast hanging out with Jack Black, that guy with the enormous nose, that blonde lady, and Peter Jackson, that Kong couldn't wait for something else to act in. And so when he got wind of this new giant ape movie that would be in the same cinematic universe as my new American movies, he jumped at the chance. And so that brings us to Kong: Skull Island.
A lovely movie. I truly enjoyed it. Kong was brilliant in it, and he played a younger version of himself amazingly well! I don't know if they used those computers or some-such to de-age him, like they did with Tony Stark in that new Captain America movie, but I was amazed. Simply amazed.
So, kids, get ready for two old fogies to rumble in our upcoming movie! I hope you root for yours truly, but I'll forgive you if you choose to cheer for my pal Kong. He's a winner! What a sweet guy. He never gave up. Never gave up.
(*Translated from Japanese)
This is the GREATEST GIANT MONKEY MOVIE OF ALL TIME! Holy fucking shit! The writer must have asked the movie producer, "Hey, what's better than King fucking Kong?" And the other guy was like, "I don't know, maybe movies about the 'Nam?" And they looked at each other and then jumped up in the air and gave each other high fives that EXPLODED!