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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kong: Skull Island First Trailer

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Edited by Robert Beach

One of the more bizarre stories of the 21st century is the bizarre disconnect between the companies that make movies and the companies that simply finance and distribute them. This has become an even more central part of the story of film production in the age of franchises and sagas where every studio is looking for their multi-film, years-long movie series. 

The most recent example of this would have to be the case of Legendary Entertainment, who recently broke with former partners Warner Brothers and had spent the last three years trying to prove themselves a viable investment through their growing slate of prospective giant monster movies. 

This started in 2013 with their push for Pacific Rim and then broke into the big time in 2014 with Godzilla. Godzilla’s the film that proved them a solvent business, so in 2015, they announced plans for a whole slate of Kaiju flicks based around Godzilla 2, Kong: Skull Island, and finally a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla. This year, we’ve got our first look at that ambitious plan with the debut trailer for Kong: Skull Island. 

Cards on the table, this is easily my favorite trailer to come out of San Diego Comic Con after the Wonder Woman trailer. I should probably be more wary of that excitement. The last time I got this psyched for a Legendary produced giant monster movie we got the incredibly underwhelming 2014 Godzilla movie, but I can’t  help it. This movie seems to feature all the stuff I love. See, as both a consumer and a critic, I am a massive formalist. The way this latest King Kong flick doubles down on the structural and stylistic pulp affects of the series is scratching me right where I itch. 

To our story, the set-up seems most similar to the 1976 Italian-produced King Kong remake in that it revolves around a survey team seeking out an island that remains undiscovered because of the swirling mists that cut it off from society.  If this new film plans to be a synthesis of all the previous Kong films, which it seems to be, this is one of the better aspects to borrow from the ’76 movie. 

If you haven’t seen it, the ’76 King Kong is easily the weakest of the three King Kong adaptations, owing to the poor quality of the effects and empty world presented to us. In both the 1933 and Peter Jackson King Kong films, Skull Island is presented as their bizarre and mystic land full of dinosaurs and giant insects. In the 1976 film, there’s none of that wonder. 

Incidentally, that lack of wonder is something that has me wary in this cover. I mean, the name of the film is “Skull Island,” but it seems a lot like Skull Island isn’t an interesting place to stomp around. I like the visual affect of the monster graveyard, and it’s clear from the bones glimpsed in this trailer there once were dinosaurs and other giant monsters on the island. It’d be a real shame if we didn’t get to see them. 

As much as the current blockbuster scene is defined by competing reboots and adaptations, the content of those films still informs the choice of reboots. Even though Kong: Skull Island exists as part of a multi-film Kaiju saga, it also now has to exist in a post-Jurassic World blockbuster ecosystem. The fact that Legendary wouldn't feature dinosaurs in one of the only franchises that're well known for dino action strikes me as a serious misstep. 

As to the cast and plot, the film seems like a fairly straightforward adventure yarn, which I like. Given the plans to tie this movie to Godzilla, it was smart to emphasize a different way in which the humans come in contact with the monsters this time around. The framing as a prequel film is a good excuse to keep Kong from needing to go to the city. 

The plot just seems like John Goodman’s Randa hiring Tom Hiddleston’s Captain James Conrad to search for Skull Island.  Brie Larson is playing Weaver, seemingly Hiddleston’s love interest, while Samuel L. Jackson has what appears to be the meatiest role as Lieutenant Colonel Packard. Presumably, their survey mission gets stranded on Skull Island after encountering more than they bargained for, and the survivors are forced to contend with deadly monsters as they scramble for rescue. 

As I mentioned earlier, my favorite thing about this trailer is the style; that incredibly pulp adventure visual affect instantly stands out amid the blockbuster landscape. I mentioned earlier that even though this is the age of reboots and remakes the content of those films is still the dominant factor and framing Skull Island as an Indiana Jones/Doc Savage-esque pulp adventure instantly carves out a unique visual niche for the movie. 

You can see some of this in just the costume design, the way Hiddleston and Goodman look like they could just as easily be on safari in the ‘20s or Sam Jackson’s green army man gear.  Speaking of green, the color palette of this film is also just amazing.  It’s a wonderful balance of dust, sunset yellow with deep jungle greens spread across a slate gray backdrop.  It all pops incredibly well and helps with defining this movie as a unique entity compared, both among modern blockbusters and compared to 2014’s Godzilla.

Finally, there’s King Kong himself.  This is the biggest we’ve ever seen Kong in one of these films, which makes sense given he’s going to fight Godzilla in a few years. I like the way the trailer plays hide and seek with him, not giving away the goods but giving enough intimation to make it work. It reminds me most of Trollhunter, the Norwegian found footage horror film. 

It’s all well shot and impressive given director Jordan Vogt-Roberts hasn’t done much before this. I do hope that the final film will have a good amount of Kong in it, or at the very least, the supporting characters will be compelling enough on their own that waiting for Kong won’t be a crushing bore. That probably will be the case given this movie is loaded with great actors who are always compelling, but I’m still holding out for some major Kong action. If there isn’t another monster for him to fight, that’d be a real missed opportunity. 

Overall, I’d say I’m pretty positive about this trailer. It’s got me pumped up for this film and not just because most of its core cast are Marvel Universe mainstays (soon enough all actors will be superhero actors.) I do wonder how much of the movie will be connected to Godzilla and the announced plan for a King Kong vs. Godzilla remake. 

The recent floundering of Godzilla 2 and Legendary’s greater push on Pacific Rim: Maelstrom would imply the companies not as committed as it was to its multi-film Kaiju series. If Skull Island just ends up dropping all the Godzilla ties, I wouldn’t be surprised. Still, it’s not like the movie needs that continuity to be good. From where I stand, it’s already on the track to be the better film. 

Kong: Skull Island is scheduled for release March 10, 2017

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1 comment:

  1. nice post. The releasing date of Kong skull island movie is 10 March 2017. Jordan Vogt-Roberts is the directed of this movie and he directs many hits actions movies.