Kong is king of nostalgia- and also awesomeness
I didn’t know what sort of movie Kong: Skull Island was going to be when I went in. Was it going to be a light, fun pulp movie or was it going to be a smart homage to nostalgia? As it turned out, it did both of these things very well.
The cast was perfect. John Goodman is so versatile in his roles, I didn’t see how he could pull off playing a crazy, obsessive, quack scientist, but he did it and made it feel authentic. Samuel l jackson playing an obsessive, tough as nails soldier… well that’s just a no-brainer, this is Nick Fury we’re talking about.
As a well-practiced knit picker, I had a a couple of things to work with early on. But I eventually decided to ignore it as I realized that this movie was going to be an homage to the pulp monster movies that created King Kong in the first place. )This should have been obvious when John Goodman and Corey Hawkins recruited Ton Hiddleston in the middle of a bar fight.) There are a lot of movies who create fictional problems and try very hard to apply real word logic to find solutions that work, but with pulp movies you were pretty much meant to just enjoy the ride.
It took me a little bit to figure out what the mood of this movie was going to be and whether or not I should overlook those knit picking issues (such as why they decided to fly through the weird storm when they had the option of sailing through on a super heavy carrier). I couldn’t tell if these decisions were meant to be taken completely seriously or if the movie meant to be a little “tongue in cheek.” But seeing the reactions after the first conflict, it was clearly tongue in cheek. At least to an extent.
A lot about this movie was certainly serious. A few of the encounters made me grab my arm rests in the theater and say something I can’t print. Let’s just pretend it was “Oh, crud!” And the movie does a very good job of balancing semi-serious, semi-humorous moments with the completely serious moments, which is probably the best way to do an homage to the pulp era monster movies and King Kong.
But this movie goes further than just paying tribute to the old monster movies. The creators of this movie show a respect and love of American culture. The movie included the bonds of brotherhood and angst of Vietnam, the purity of purpose from World War II and the sense of wonder as America entered the space age and science began progressing by leaps and bounds.
But Kong: Skull Island also succeeds in thrilling the viewers with… let’s face it, the thing we really wanted to see: the monster fights. Those “Oh, crud!” moments happened often in this move with surprise encounters and brutal battles. These moments were so intense, I didn’t even notice what the movie was doing with its character plots until the end of the movie when people in the back rows started clapping.
There have only been three times in my entire life when I heard applause in a movie theater: once was during Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the other was during The Passion of the Christ. Not to oversell Kong, I’m not saying it’s quite at the level of those movies, but it’s still very good. Clearly these character plots connected with at least a few people in the audience, and with such a wide range of history and nostalgia done so well, how could they not?
Kong: Skull Island continues this weekend at The Ritz Theater in Malvern.
Image courtesy of Warner Brothers.