A fresh take on the character of King Kong hit cinemas last year. This was the beginning of a new monster movie cinematic universe. The fact that there wasn’t more buzz around this one may be due to reboot fatigue. Or, cinematic universe fatigue which is also a real thing right now. However, I want you to think past that and check this one out. Let me tell you why.
In Kong: Skull Island, a military squadron are sent to escort scientists on their expedition to an undiscovered island. It is the end of their service in Vietnam and they are going on one last mission.
The period setting makes for a visual treat. It is the army surplus equipment, the record player in the case and the old fashioned cameras. The island itself is a beautiful location and the directing is fantastic. I love the new design of King Kong, as well as the creatures he has to fight off.
Skull Island is a clever, meaningful film in disguise as a monster flick. There are themes of invading the natural world as well as colonialism. These themes are made more effective by the time period, it adds context to what they are trying to say. The political landscape of the time adds a greater feeling of importance to the story: “A camera is more dangerous than a gun”.
There are a lot of scenes in which visual metaphors and symbolism are used to convey a message. The helicopters swarm toward the island like locusts. A scene follows in which the helicopters leave the clouds into clear skies. The camera focuses on a Richard Nixon bobble head that is on the dashboard of the cockpit. The clouds behind the face of Nixon disperse into bright angelic light. Nixon appears to emerge into the new world.
This is interesting as Nixon held office during the time of the Vietnam war and he notably bombed urban areas. He also failed to quickly withdraw U.S. troops, prolonging a war that was dragging on too long and never should have happened.
This is great symbolism, especially when you consider that the team bomb the island as part of their fact finding mission. Also, Samuel L. Jackson’s character refuses to leave without killing Kong despite it not being part of the mission. Jackson’s character is a representation of Nixon.
Although their range is not challenged, this film has a glittering cast. Kong: Skull Island is a really fun adventure with some great action and stunning visuals.