Hey folks, Harry here... There were caveats all over BUTT-NUMB-A-THON this last year... The LOGAN footage, we're not allowed to give story beats to or spoilers... same with Verbinski's THE CURE FOR WELLNESS... only general feelings - I'll write up my feelings on the first 40 minutes (opening act) of LOGAN shortly, but right now - there is no caveat about the KONG: SKULL ISLAND footage we saw - so let's jump to that.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the director of KONG: SKULL ISLAND, attended his second BNAT in total. He missed last year's event due to shooting KONG: SKULL ISLAND. He really wanted to bring the whole film, but as with all VFX flicks these days, they're on an incredibly tight delivery schedule - and as of December 10th-11th - while the cut was locked, there were too many shots that still needed to be delivered. Sigh.
So, I invited Frank Dietz and his King Kong tribute documentary called LONG LIVE THE KING. Frank had showed me it, knowing my monkey mania, and I , of course, went bananas over the thing. So much so, that as it played, the audience was treated to frozen chocolate covered bananas as the doc played. They really hit the spot!
After the documentary played, Frank and I did a bit of Q&A regarding the film, then I invited audience member, Jordan Vogt-Roberts down to introduce his - about 6 minutes of footage from KONG: SKULL ISLAND.
First thing you need to know is the film - in these two sequences, is ferociously paced and the colors are leap off the screen hyper real.
This first scene begins 1944 - with a dogfight between a Japanese Zero and I believe a P40 MUSTANG if memory can be trusted. It's over almost instantly with the American pilot parachuting away and the Japanese pilot doing the same. They land upon an unknown beach. They face off. Looking at the face of the young American, you get the idea that this is supposed to be a young John C Reilly. But more than that, to a thinking film lover, you instantly get that Jordan is evoking John Boorman's HELL IN THE PACIFIC starring Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. (Great film - you must seek it out, it was also the inspiration for ENEMY MINE) The two men begin fighting, then the American is being chased into the jungle by the Japanese with his Kitana out and ready to dice and slice. Then - they meet KONG - and it is epic and it is over. The audience cheers loudly and Jordan comes out to set up the next sequence.
This is the helicopter arrival and seismic charges being dropped to map the underbelly of the island which they learn is hollow. The sequence, with it's Vietnam era helicopters and explosions and happy go lucky mercs... It's exciting, fun and thrilling, then KONG begins attacking. Everyone loses their mind because Kong is so massive as to defy expectations... APOCALYPSE NOW is playing in all of our minds as we watch... but with KING KONG! Everyone in the cast feels somehow instantly a part of the team, even as the shit is coming down. Kong hits a copter with a palm tree - which evoked KING KONG VS GODZILLA from TOHO days, except it looked PERFECT! There's a Copter that Kong fist fucks right in its face - and the audience squealed with delight. You have to get it, not only did this stuff look like a billion, but it was charged with a no-fucks to give intensity that was infectious and felt celebritory!
It was definitely nowhere near enough for Kongamaniac, but in tandem with Dietz's LONG LIVE THE KING - it was a pure celebration of all things Kong. Dietz doc touches base with a whole awesome cadre of Kong lovers like Joe Dante, Greg Nicotero, Bob Burns & more... tending to go for the personal anecdotal joy of discovering Kong. In particular, I loved seeing William Stout geeking on Kong - and everybody else. It begins by telling us the origins of the original film and having everyone lay into the story and their fave parts - then it takes to the evolution of the Kong brand, with SON OF KONG and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG - and then how Kong became a character that inspired imitation from around the world. The film goes all the way through to Peter Jackson's Kong. It was... A perfect little doc to have before two clips from the upcoming SKULL ISLAND!