I love King Kong. You know that if you’ve read the site. The original 1933 film is beloved, sacred and the key to great cinema can be traced directly to everything that is so pitch perfectly awesome. There is an unspoken of group of creative souls upon this planet, for whom… KONG is truly the Eighth Wonder . They get together – and almost by divine power… KONG is spoken. And the next several hours – between these Kongphiles, they’ll get really amped up talking about every awesome 24th of a frame of that film. What I love – is as I’ve exhausted the 45 years of life I’ve lived, I have… so many amazing friends around the world… Some famous, but even more not – and we talk KONG effortlessly.
Why do I love film like I do? With such abandon and passion? KONG. KONG taught me to love the credits of the movie. I wanted to know how everything was done in that movie. My parents provided me with the material. They showed me every KING KONG kinda thing. There’s a truth that everyone that has obsessed with Kong about, that has made a remake or an adaptation. NONE of them end up with a film they revere like 33 KING KONG. That’s not even a goal. Many of these artists that create KING KONG art… they just love being the character. I mean, when I’ve met Rick Baker – there’s a part of my brain that is constantly aware of the way Rick walks – and his EYES – he actually has living KONG EYES – and he’s beloved as a result.
Tonight… I got to see the new KING KONG movie, called KONG: SKULL ISLAND. The director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts has attended two Butt-Numb-A-Thons – mainly because he rocks it with Capone apparently. At least that’s a rumor I’ll start. He got to see a 35mm print of SON OF KONG at his first BNAT and then last year, he brought two scenes… They got me real fired up for his film.
Growing up as a kid from the seventies… you couldn’t escape Vietnam. It was all over the toy aisles. I had an extensive GI JOE collection I inherited from a friend of my Dad’s… but in particular I loved little plastic green army men and I had helicopters and Planes (along with every spaceship and robot you could imagine). I had to take care of basically all my toys… except the war toys – which they allowed me to destroy - not out of a hatred for our Armed Forces, Dad served as an MP. But his Dad and Brother made full careers out it. I never really had armies versus enemy armies (except in STAR WARS play) but MAN… I WAS KONG – and I killed so many green army men that I bit in half. Squished into mud. Thrown from tree tops that my rope bridge went to. I would show my friends DESTROY ALL MONSTERS – and we’d kill cars and Tonka trucks with giant boulders – and we’d try to do the different monster sounds… and mom and dad had a cassette of Max Steiner’s Kong that sometimes played, but usually they’d be blasting out the psychedelic rock that they loved most.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND was me fighting with Kaa, from Jungle Book stuffed Disney toy. It is me smashing army vehicles and using fireworks to explode the men or smoke bombs that would put a toxic colored smoke around us kids as we roared and made machinegun sounds… and more than a few PEW PEW PEW – as the Mego Enterprise Crew encountered KONG HARRY and Spock mind melded and made me more like Mighty Joe Young on our backyard adventures.
This Kong is all the crazy energy of getting to play KING KONG. When you’re a kid, or at least one like me… you didn’t play out the entire narrative like them awesome RAIDERS kids… No… Every adventure was our own. We lived in our favorite make believe universes – and my KONG went everywhere. Shit, Kong even fought the Nazis with my GUNS OF NAVARONE play set. He was always on Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn’s side. Quinn gave him whiskey.
I know, I sound crazy – that’s fine… I guarantee I’m having the best time writing it. And my friends, whom I still know will get one gargantuan gigglefest out of it. And sometimes – that’s the best kind of writing you can do after a movie like this one. Tap into what it is – at the essence of why I was just so fucking enraptured with KONG: SKULL ISLAND today.
This was my way of seeing Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong. I’ve had the privilege of chatting online with him about this movie – and when I found out it was a Nam story – I was like – DUDE FLAMETHROWERS and NAPALM – and He was like, “Just wait, there’s a killer flamethrower and flames sequence!” That sent major shivers down this post-op spine of mine. Jordan is a Kong kid. Loves the character. Loves Vietnam a ton! And just knowing he was going into this to give us a bit of KING KONG APOCALYPSE NOW – was an ever-loving good sign going in, but holy shit coming out I’m just so fucking happy I see it again tonight! Then the Bob Bullock IMAX Laser 3D some time during SXSW because – I’ll take a ME Film Break from time to time.
OK – so I’m obviously hysterically in love with this thing. Why? (And this time Harry try to talk about the actual movie!)
There’s this part of me… that doesn’t want to. So – let me say here – if you don’t want to be spoiled… head back now… Cuz I’ve really got a helluvalot to share. Quick countdown from ten.
I am going to start spoiling stuff – and now there is nobody that can complain that isn’t just a total ass.
KING KONG LIVES!!!
This is a King Kong film where he lives… Has a full on back story that I’d love see get told cinematically. The Kong Family tale, the underbelly of Skull Island must fucking be explored in depth. What’s up with the silent natives? Their strange art style – what’s it all mean? The post credit surprise – more stunningly significant story telling foretelling awesome that I’m wanting to see realized NOW!!!! No, my spoilers won’t go so deep to actually ruin it, but ya know… This film is through the looking glass fun for me.
Btw – I love this big goofy guy! He isn’t goofy, but he’s known to bound, a bit like the Pixar short and that shit made me wildly deliriously happy. Kong doing the Frankenstein water reflection, but not so angry… more sad, like he saw his Mom and Dad in his face and that it made him feel lonely and alone. And that’s some sweet pathos for the big guy. Kong enjoying the sea life cuisine on Skull Island made me think of Min-Sik Choi’s Oh Dae-Su from OLDBOY – and that was pure happy badass, plus of course an Giant Octopus is on the Island!!! I had a stuffed Octopus to wrestle with!
I like that Kong is infatuated by Brie Larson’s Mason Weaver… but let’s face it, there’s only one Fay Wray – and just that notion… helped make this Kong even more awesome. Like maybe Kong wasn’t all dead… and they took him back to his island – and he continued to fight and eat giant beasties and he grew… so maybe the Movie was part of the cover up, it became JUST A MOVIE. But Kong went back to Skull Island. OR NOT. Hhehehhe.
Ok – so let’s tackle this cast. For me, this movie has a bevy of stars. People looking at this film like the film is supposed to have a classic cast match up are completely fucking missing the point of KONG: SKULL ISLAND… This is ALIENS… Cameron’s film wasn’t fucking Ridley Scott’s film, it was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Cameron made Vietnam in Space. Vogt-Roberts is giving us a military squad with the nerds Vietnam action film on SKULL ISLAND… and that is just about the best fucking idea in a real long time.
Sure – you can pick the cinematic short cuts of how John C Reilly’s Hank Marlow is essentially Lee Marvin from John Boorman’s HELL IN THE PACIFIC, except – older and more like Lee Marvin in CAT BALLOU… and that’s a brilliant fucking sidestep – and so… Like, from that opening scene where you see a hyper energized and fun as hell set up of HELL IN THE PACIFIC – (later adapted to ENEMY MINE), but then CUT – and we don’t need to tell that story on Skull Island, but damn if it isn’t easy to imagine and gosh, the building of that crazy boat… That’d be fun. Reilly’s Hank Marlow is just so happy to have people to talk to, to answer questions, to perhaps help him get off the island, but more likely die – and why not laugh, cuz… He’s still alive – and there’s people. So many questions! I love his character. Everything he does is delightful.
Part of the joy of KING KONG 1933 – is there’s more to it than the three leads. I love the different characters on that ship, cooky, Englehorn… The men discussing Ann Darrow – It’s a cast of characters… For me – I love the movie so much that every single person that gets stomped, pulled out of a window, riding on the elevated train, everyone. I love.
The soldiers are allowed to chat and interact and you get to see them feed off one another. You hear things about characters you’re not supposed to know will soon be wiped off the face of the Earth. I mean, at least one of these soldiers, you will see the undigested skull and dog tags be vomited forth from one of these mutant monsters belched from the underbelly of Skull Island. It’s gnarly. But this is one of the characters you get introduced to. I mean, there are actors of note that get fucked up royally and die and it’s spectacularly fun… and surprising… and giggle… sometimes it is like BAMBI MEETS GODZILLA – and giggle… so awesome.
You know, like how ALIENS goes… there’s going to be few who survive. And I’m sorry – I’ve never been into SURVIVOR – because… KING KONG, PREDATOR, ALIENS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, BARBARELLA… Movies where lots of main characters die. This is a movie of that ilk. And I love it so.
Not having those moments spoiled is something I won’t stomp upon. But I found it surprising and fun.
After Peter Jackson’s KING KONG, which was about Peter living in the era and world of the original KING KONG and explore unexplored avenues and the other things left out of the original – and flesh out meaningful relationships – and I love that film for those very things, but KONG: SKULL ISLAND… isn’t fooling around, it is bringing you a story you haven’t seen with KING KONG. The vitality and energy of the film comes from a brisk pacing, something I think people should look to the original film for, cuz once you hit that island it is petal to the metal, and here… It is a walking film, where characters have to get to different points on the island cuz KONG seriously fucks them over. They’d just wrassled with a Hurricane and came through unscathed – there was fucking RED LIGHTNING up in that shit, and then they smiled at the sunlight – and in their badass technology… Military experience… shit. Ain’t nothing on SKULL ISLAND. Better to have died in the hurricane.
Fuckers did not know who they were fucking with. And Kong versus Vietnam Copters is just the pure unadulterated glee I have been dying to see my whole life. This is like what I dreamt the KING KONG 1976 could have been – had Dino hired John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola to combine their impossible to shoot film into something even crazier. But that never happened… So Jordan Vogt-Roberts gave a swing at it – and for me… Kong Geek. FUCK YEAH! That was crazy fun – and are there problems with it? Not particularly. I mean, I would’ve done things a bit different. Just cuz, I’d mixed some crazy insane dinosaurs in with all the monsters. And the dinosaurs wouldn’t be anything like the scientists say, cuz these are crazy Skull Island Dinosaurs. And reality has no business ever coming to SKULL ISLAND. Reality puts on Usain Bolt speed sprinting from Skull Island – and Jordan Vogt-Roberts brought his very best and it kicked so much ass.
How much? Ok – My nephew was sitting next to me during this screening and afterwards he looked at me with a big honking grin and was like, “It’s so cool, we’re studying Vietnam in World History right now – and I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but Ap – of course you’ve seen it, you showed me APOCALYPSE NOW! And this film made me think of that film, which is really different from KING KONG” During the film – as this Kong just destroys America’s mighty helicopters he was jumping up and down, making all those killer sympathetic noises you do when someone dies in the best fucking way since the last one!
“I know it sounds like a bird, but it’s a fucking ant I Tell You!” – we looked at each other and started to cry laughing – cause we kept hearing the bird sound and we wanted to see what the frigging giant ants looked like – but you don’t – so now I get to show him THEM. That’ll rock.
This is a film geek’s play thing of a film. Watching it multiple times is a most definite for me. Already I’m noticing things like Senator Willis and Secretary O’Brien…. Giggle.
I want to see a 5 hour cut of this at least. I love the playful vitality and energy that the film hits us with. I give much love to DP Larry Fong, this film is gorgeous!
ILM did a great job with Kong and Toby Kebbell did a fine job of giving Kong a sense of loss, duty, gutsiness and a gentle soul through all that industrial light & magic they do. They give Kong some private moments of him just being Kong in his home – and yeah – I could do that for a whole film some time. People need not apply. Kong and Monsters and Dinosaurs. Directed by Phil Tippett. In stop-motion – BLACK & WHITE.
Whatever the case – we need more KONG! And I need to see this one a few dozen times more for starters.
Awww Hell No, I can’t end without talking about Samuel L Jackson and my friends let me tell you… LOVE. Full on LOVE. Sam’s Preston Packard – upon first viewing – I love – people are going straight Ahab on him, comparing him to Moby Dick’s nemesis. That’s there, but frankly… like another film that cribbed from Melville… Ricardo Montalban’s Khan was ringing around in that man’s head. But if you go with Ahab, go for Gregory Peck’s Ahab in John Huston’s MOBY DICK. Ray Bradbury did the script there – and it’s amazing. Here – Sam’s Preston enjoyed having his squadron. He didn’t like leaving the war unresolved. Too many had died for that to be the case. So when he gets a call to do a favor via one last mission. Sure, why the hell not. The Helicopter ass stomping Kong hands Jackson. The fistful of dog tags in his mitts, just does not sit. Preston’s on a Wild Bunch. A Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. One last Hoo-fucking-rah! There’s nobody to report to, this island fucks radios all up, unless incredibly convenient. But Sam and his men are going to bloody this bloody ape! His character rages internally like the fires of Isengard. He burns and he is a capable man. The trap he leads for a skyscraping Kong is a formidable trap – and I love every second – and when everything starts going south and then a wallop happens… Kong is on a beach – essentially smoldering and wiped out – and it’s about the finishing blow – I loved it. LOVED IT – because there’s more. Like ALIENS, it keeps fighting.
The dialogue and acting and pain and richness of the characters in ALIENS isn’t being matched per se – these are different characters, scenarios… and I’ve only seen KONG SKULL ISLAND once, which ties it with ALIENS for views this week.
Go see it at your favorite screen. Take everyone. Have a hootin and hollering good time! For a guy like me, this is exactly the kind of movie that I obsess over. It’s massively fun!
Keep it cool,