Kong: Skull Island takes place in 1973. For anyone my age, they're still doing the Cold War against Russia, and for the first time ever, the United States sent out the first pictures of outer space. And a scientist who believes in monsters named Dr. Randa (John Goodman) along with his assistant Dr. Brooks comes into the air force office one day, who perhaps did actually receive a message that they're going to be delayed a meeting for the fifth time. But Russia is going to receive these pictures in 24 hours so there's no way they can hold off any longer. Randa is able to get the investments he needs to investigate this island that has been shrouded by clouds and has never been visited before in all of human history. He gets a military crew, some engineers, a photo journalist, and together they set off into the lightning, to the island that makes Samuel L. Jackson say a quote suitably straight from Jurassic Park.
When I entered the theatre, not only did I know nothing about this film or anything about the King Kong legacy, but I didn't see any trailers, which made Kong: Skull Island even more refreshing. 2017 has been a year so far where the few films I've seen have mostly not been satisfactory. It's been so long since I've seen a new movie that made me as frightened and packs as much of a punch as this one, even if there are story elements that prevent the final delivery from being masterful.
There's a conflict within the group that goes to the island about whether revenge or safety is the best option, and surprisingly, the movie is very good at letting us decide instead of the characters. I could understand both sides of the argument fluently and I didn't want to pick either side. And maybe I was in a sugar rush or something, but this movie actually made me tear up a few times. There's a hilarious character that is forced to say "Goodbye." It's not the kind of goodbye you think, but it's so chilling I couldn't help but imagine being in his shoes with my family and I was close to weeping. This character is one I really wanted to survive, not just for his likability but his story and the fact that it's not his fault for all the disasters. In fact, there are some - not all, but some - characters that made me feel like if they didn't survive, I'd hate the movie.
And how are the action scenes and special effects, which are pretty much the main reason to see monster movies these days and since forever? They're quite phenomenal. This movie has no shortage of creatures and surprises, in an environment that effectiveyl made me feel unsafe as well. There's even a helicopter swerve where on one angle, we see someone holding on for dear life as it spins faster than a Gravitron and another when some characters view the ocean and the camera is right next to them...I really felt there. And this movie doesn't take any shortcuts either. If anything, this feels like a gift to monster fans, having cameos of almost every creature you can think of and having them all play a role rather than just for fanfare.
But sadly, this movie isn't perfect, with some flaws I can't quite forgive in order to bring this movie to an A or A+ grade, despite the fact I left the theatre with one of the biggest chills I've ever had. This movie has tenacity to kill some of its characters, at the hands of Kong or otherwise. But there are a few deaths that make it so it's a little harder to root for some of the characters - and beasts, which is something that seemed unintentional, including a few deaths that feel too safe-bet.
So those are my main reasons for the A- grade. But even though there are things that did need work, the way it made me feel and the heavy-handed terror was A+ material. Kong: Skull Island is a movie definitely worth your money.