Does Beauty slay the Beast yet again? That was the
punchline in the original versions of King Kong. But answering it would be a
spoiler, so I’ll just say, yes, King Kong does get to hold “beauty” Brie Larson
tenderly in his palm. And no, King Kong doesn’t go to New York or destroy the
Empire State building this time.
What we do have is a backdrop of Vietnam polemics. So
when photographer Mason Weaver joins a crew heading for an unrevealed mission
to Skull Island in the South Pacific, she typically calls herself an ‘Anti-War
But winning a war, any war, is what’s on the mind of
Colonel Packard who won’t go home after the ceasefire in Vietnam.
An assortment of such different minds including
scientists and skilled army men with guns, rides impressively into the eye of a
hurricane. Skull Island lies beyond, tranquil and beautiful in its seclusion.
But ferocity rises in different forms from the subterranean and some like
Colonel Packard think it’s their bounden duty on behalf of America to wipe the
monsters off the face of the earth.
Mason Weaver and tracker Conrad are on the other team,
so the face-off is on different levels. Man versus Man. Man versus King Kong
and other creatures. King Kong himself versus dinosaur-like lizards to protect
the terrified humans. Underneath it all, director Jordan
Vogt-Roberts roots for peace and for Planet Earth in her splendorous diversity
which is sweet but not such a unique message after all.
In a 2017 reprisal of the King Kong myth, the special
effects budget had to be as gargantuan as the creatures they create. There’s a
veritable rogues’ gallery of vicious creatures with King Kong even eating up a
giant octopus like he’s having spaghetti for dinner. So visually, there’s
plenty. And there are enough known actors like Tom Hiddleston as Conrad, Samuel
Jackson as Packard and Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Mason Weaver, to keep the adventure
But I have to say one major disappointment is that
there’s such an onslaught of monsters that it gets a bit tiresome, leading to a
disconnect with the many humans who are gobbled up. And there are overt
attempts at playing on your sentiments through ‘Dear Billy’ notes that one such
gobbled up human leaves behind for his son.
For a well-shot film that follows a template which
doesn’t necessarily ensure sustained attachment to what’s going on, Kong: Skull Island gets a 3*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author