Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman
Release Date: July 18, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
This compelling, original adventure tells the story of a diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers uniting to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.
The latest incarnation of the infamous legend, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ accompanies a supposed mapping expedition to Skull Island, the legendary uncharted island filled with numerous mythical beings, including the island’s King and protector the mighty Kong. With a group comprised of everything from scientists to a hard edged military unit and a photographer ready to investigate, upon arriving on the mysterious island they quickly encounter the massive Kong who promptly destroys their helicopters (along with many of the team members) after an initial instigation sets things off to a rocky beginning. After being separated and exploring various aspects of the island, the team begins to find themselves with conflicting agendas and as questionable actions are taken by some, things soon grow increasingly worse as the island erupts into a battleground.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) from a screenplay by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Borenstein (Godzilla 2014) and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World), Vogt-Roberts does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ capturing the beauty, emotion and the overall character of Kong, along with everything else spectacularly. The film also owes its share of credit to the numerous talented (and many well known) individuals that comprise the cast including Tom Hiddleston (Thor), Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), Brie Larson (Room), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), Shea Whigham (TV’s Vice Principals), John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) and more, nearly all offering spot on performances in each of their respective roles.
‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a tense, humorous and visually stunning second entry in Warner’s ongoing monster franchise (following 2014’s new take on Godzilla) that takes viewers deep into Skull Island and explores the various creatures and fantasy-like occupants of the mystical lost island. Perhaps most importantly, the film does an outstanding job bringing Kong to life, showcasing his power and rage, yet also focusing a great deal on his kindness and reasoning behind any violent action and therefore allowing the audience to truly feel something for Kong, quickly accepting him as more of a hero than a villain once things start to propel along their course. ‘Kong: Skull Island’ also delivers no shortage of breathtaking action and provides numerous full blown sequences, all of which should have no trouble plastering a grin on your face, nor fail to amaze in their gorgeous and lifelike detail. Passionately guided around every turn by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, his capable guidance is only further boosted by a stellar cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman and a number more. ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is one gorgeous, tense and awe inducing good time balanced surprisingly well by plenty of laughs that never feel forced or out of place and it should likely have no trouble blowing away anyone the slightest bit intrigued with the film. Any fan of the Kong character (as well as the recent Godzilla film) on the other hand won’t want to dream of missing out on this spectacular ride.
The fellow 3D enthusiasts that haven’t yet had the pleasure will also be thrilled to discover that ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a film that while post-converted, still looks fantastic and constantly embraces the format, leaving one to think it was clearly intended for 3D all along, albeit surely shot in 2D for financial reasons. It regularly takes full advantage of the 3D aspect by opting for distant shots during the tamer moments and close takes during the action which allows guns, Kong’s hand and more to appear as if it’s leaping straight out of the screen, while always wisely keeping things from looking ridiculous in 2D and therefore guaranteeing that the film looks outstanding regardless of how it’s viewed. It’s definitely one impressive and incredibly fun 3D movie experience that should have no trouble slapping a grin on the face of most fellow 3D lovers out there.
Overall, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is an intense, action-packed and often quite humorous adventure that also offers plenty of heart and no shortage of eye popping visuals, not to mention a wonderful take on the Kong character as well as plenty of human characters with some actual personality, many of which you quickly find yourself caring quite a bit for. The fellow 3D fans should also have a great deal of fun with this one as it constantly takes full advantage of the 3D format in the majority of its shot selections, while never causing things to appear silly or out of place when viewing in 2D. ‘Kong: Skull Island’ easily earns one of my highest recommendations. It’s a well constructed and executed film that offers something for almost everyone and does a fantastic job with nearly every aspect throughout. It should have no trouble proving itself more than worth the cost of a rental at the absolute least for anyone even mildly interested in checking out but understandably hesitant to cough up the funds for a blind purchase.
The Blu-ray 3D release of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ features a full 1080p High Definition MVC encoded 3D presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. This high definition 3D presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a clean, colorful and nearly flawless 3D experience that fully embraces the format, offering frequent expansive shots with intricate, breathtaking detail on display, along with guns, creature elements and much more appearing to regularly leap directly out of the screen amidst the action sequences. Overall, this is a top notch high definition 3D presentation that only makes this visually stunning film look that much more outstanding and it should easily thrill the fellow 3D enthusiasts out there, as well anyone that enjoys the format whatsoever and has the capability to enjoy it at home.
The 2D Blu-ray release which is also included in the 3D Blu-ray combo pack features an AVC encoded full high definition video presentation also representing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. While I was only able to scan through a few select scenes on the standard disc as a result of a busy week and the review copy arriving just a day before release, what I did have the pleasure of checking out looked equally fantastic in its own right and appeared overall to offer quite the sharp, clean and gorgeous high definition video presentation.
Following the recent (and admittedly somewhat disappointing) trend on Warner’s Blu-ray 3D releases, the standard 2D Blu-ray disc of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ once again features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack, while the 3D Blu-ray disc yet again features a somewhat less impressive (yet still quite fantastic) 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As this review focuses primarily on the 3D release, this audio section will concentrate on the 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA included on the Blu-ray 3D disc. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds outstanding for what it is and offers a clean, crisp and notably hard hitting audio presentation from start to finish. It constantly takes full advantage of all five available channels from the onset, even the opening logos are accompanied by a hail of bullets swarming throughout the various speakers, and the remainder of the film offers plenty of bullets, helicopter activity, explosions and debris, along with plenty more regularly zipping throughout each channel, and always making certain that any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously remains clean and fully audible at all times. Overall, while this 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack is an unquestionable downgrade from the few scenes I had the chance to view on the standard Blu-ray with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core of the Dolby Atmos soundtrack utilized, this lossless 5.1 channel soundtrack still offers a clean, hard hitting and incredibly fun audio presentation that shouldn’t disappoint unless directly compared with the 2D’s Atmos/TrueHD option.
The Blu-ray 3D (and standard Blu-ray) release of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ include some enjoyable extras, the entirety of which can be found on the standard Blu-ray disc. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Jordon Vogt-Roberts’, in addition to a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 4 minutes in length combined). We are also treated to a collection of behind the scenes Featurettes that take you deeper into bringing the film to life, featuring behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Creating a King’ which is broken down into 2 parts: ‘Realizing an Icon’ (running approximately 12 minutes) and ‘Summoning a God’ (approximately 13 minutes), plus ‘On Location: Vietnam’ (6 minutes), ‘Tom Hiddleston: The Intrepid Traveler’ (7 minutes) and ‘Through the Lens: Brie Larson’s Photography’ (2 minutes). A collection of “secret” documents and info are also included in ‘Monarch Files 2.0 (Companion Archive)’ (running approximately 8 minutes altogether).