In an age of shared blockbuster universes which take themselves terribly seriously, “Kong: Skull Island” is a breezy and brazen breath of fresh air. Preposterous in its premise, it’s not afraid to embrace its silliness and, as a result, is more fun than any of its Hollywood kaiju predecessors.
In the early 1970’s, an expedition to map an undiscovered island in the Pacific makes a startling discovery: a lost world of megafauna ruled over by the mighty Kong. But is he a tyrant or a protector?
Although set in the same fictional universe as 2014’s “Godzilla”, there’s a lightness of touch here that keeps things playful without sacrificing the spectacle or adventure. The cast are clearly having great fun, with Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman particularly enjoying themselves. There’s a sly knowingness to the script which, while relishing its seventies setting, isn’t above peppering in some pop culture references and modern day political satire. Even John C Reilly’s character – who felt a bit awkward and out of place in the trailers – fits in perfectly with the film’s mix of camp comedy and outrageous action. Hiddleston doesn’t do his leading man credentials any harm as dashing jungle tracker James Conrad although he’s more convincing in his swarthy introduction scene than later once he’s had a shave and smartened himself up a bit.
Despite the star-studded cast, it’s the creatures and effects which are the real draw here. Kong himself – performed by Terry Notary – is magnificent and the action sequences and creature designs are spectacular.
With a post-credits scene which hints at the presence of other Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms, “Kong: Skull Island” isn’t just the most fun I’ve had in the cinema so far this year, it’s a promise for more Monster mash-ups to come.