Friday, February 17, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

I'm going to just admit right now that I'm already pretty much in the bag for KONG: SKULL ISLAND already. That's just how it is.

I can't help it. I love the idea of Skull Island.

Skull Island obviously falls under the "Monster Island" setting umbrella. A Monster Island is place forgotten by the time, lost to the world, a pocket of the unknown, is usually an uncharted island (but not always), and... is often populated by some kind of monsters, hence the name. I'm a big fan. Monster Island settings are a big intersection of interests for me. There's an inherent pulp adventure aspect that I've always loved, not to mention, the romance of exploration. It's something about the edge-of-the-world feeling that an uncharted and mist-shrouded island invokes. It's the giant monsters. It's the likelihood of dinosaurs. It's the whole crumbling and overgrown ancient ruins motif. It's the glimpse of an older world. I love it, every bit of it. I love it. Except the giant bugs.

I hate the giant bugs.


Other than that shit, though, I'm all in. I grew up on this stuff. Pretty much every Harryhausen film ended up on a Monster Island at some point. Swords and Sandals and Giant Crabs? Yes, please! I've watched tons of old black and white exploring-the-deep-jungle movies, and while they're all probably ridiculously racist at this point, at the time, all that mattered to me were explorers finding dinosaurs. Plus, I've been watching Kong films forever. They were on Sundays all the time when I was young. The King Kong vs. Godzilla movie from 1963 blew my mind as a kid. It was my Avengers movie, before I even knew about the Avengers. I still feel like Godzilla should have won though... he has Atomic Breath! Kong's just a big ape... Also, the 1976 King Kong was a big deal for me, and I can still remember the Thundarr the Barbarian episode where he fought an ancient robot of Kong. And I'm still holding out hope for that sequel to Deep Rising, and I don't care if it's foolhardy, because the film ends with the characters washing up on the beach of a Monster Island, with something huge crashing through the trees at them, and I loved the hell out of it.

What can I say...? Giant monsters, people. I love them.

I bring this up just to let you know that I have a low bar for this film. I mean, it looks good. I think it'll be good. Sure, Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed KINGS OF SUMMER--a film I wanted to like more, but just didn't--but he also directed several episodes of YOU'RE THE WORST, which is the best. F'reals. AND! And, the screenplay was written by Dan Gilroy, who wrote NIGHTCRAWLER, which is an amazing film, my second favorite of 2014

So, I'm hopeful.

Here's the synopsis: A team of explorers and soldiers travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong.

Granted, that is painfully, worryingly, super vague-ass synopsis, and that could be considered a Red Flag, but really, what else is there to say besides: "Humans go to Monster Island. Monster Island kills humans. Don't forget your popcorn." Like I said, I have a low bar here.

Let's watch the trailer!

I am so in. I love so much of what I'm seeing here.

Kong is the type of monster that just doesn't work in the real world. Besides the fact that he's a huge mother fucking gorilla, of course, there's something about uncharted islands that just don't work anymore. There's too many satellites and too many people and too many boats for "uncharted islands" to even be a thing, right? I think so. And if one did exist, and it turned out to be a Monster Island, the type of weaponry and technology we can easily carry with us would make short work of the plant and animal life there, regardless of how giant they may or may not be.

So, you can't do this type of stuff in modern times, or... you can, just not on an island. It would have to be set on a different planet or dimension or something. Also, you can't really do a 1920s-30s time period either, despite the fact that Kong is firmly rooted in a pulp era setting. For one, we've seen it already, it's been done, most recently during Peter Jackson's film Kong just 12 years ago, a film that when a friend asked me how it was, I said: "It was all right, they really took time with establishing the story. They took an hour getting to Skull Island setting up the characters and motivations... But on the other hand, they took an HOUR getting to Skull Island." Even though Jackson's Kong wasn't really that bad, it wasn't really that great either, and audiences remember that, so they have to separate this film from the last one.

Setting the film in the 60s is a brilliant answer.

Usinf Vietnam-ear imagery really sets your tone. Plus, it still feels pulpy, but it's also "modern enough" to not feel out-dated. The characters and soundtrack can reflect that mix easily. The relative modernity allows for the story to feel more dangerous, a little darker, as pulp settings always end up seeming a little cartoony, and the use of 50-ish year old tech keeps the world of the film at a distance from audiences, and it will most likely force some moments that modern day tech might have easily negated, and that helps to retain some of the mythic, other-worldly feel of the adventure. I mean, just think back to how you felt the day you accidentally left your phone at home. Remember that feeling, and then add a giant ape that wants to kill you... Scary, huh? Right? Plus, as always with Kong, there's a inherent metaphor about Man's mistreatment of Nature, and the consequences of that arrogance too, that's right at hand. That's always a nice little bonus.

In the end, what I'm seeing here looks smart, funny, and well done, so I'm in, but... like I said, I'm in regardless. Kong: Skull Island opens on March 10th, 2017.

I'm ready,

And as added bonus, here's a couple of great posters.

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