I had a total blast with this......but clearly not as much fun as Jordan Vogt-Roberts did. He directs this as if he's a kid let loose in the proverbial candy store and his enjoyment, his fun with it all, is up there to see. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the opening 30 minutes of this are some of the best directed bits of cinema I've seen in a long time - a cracking balance of stellar shots that don't seem to be screaming 'look at me, look at me'. From the opening WWII dogfight played solely in audio, to the wit of having both pilots be completely inept shots, to the use of superb 70s tunes, to just.......John Goodman, there's a verve and wit to the whole thing - this is a director who is saying "I want you guys to have fun with this".
Throw in some utter visual porn in the helicopter flyover of the island......and all of that is before we even get a good look at the titular ape. That first encounter with the big ape has some gorgeous visuals (you know when you see concept art for a film and it never looks like that? This does. Absolutely), culminating in the utterly superb shot of Sam Jackson facing down a 300 foot ape as fire rains all around him.......man, I was in complete heaven with this after that.
After that utterly breathless start, the film slows down as the narrative needs it to, but the simplistic plot (team crash and have to make it off the island) means we can focus on the eye candy. All manner of other beasties crop up, some friendly, some definitely not so and each encounter, whilst not matching that first Kong scrap, still has enough pinache to it (there's even a wonderfully gruesome Cannibal Holocaust reference at one point!) to delightfully entertain - no Bay-esque shaky cam and fast cutting to confuse the audience here! Throw in the mighty John C Reilly's comic relief, who didn't grate anywhere near as much as some reviews have said, and our two nominal leads, Hiddlarson as no-one is calling them, manage to sidestep the lack of any characterisation and just look cool and sexy (Larson certainly suits that 70s Farrah Fawcett haircut........!) while avoiding massive beasties and muttering pithy one-liners. Ironically, Jackson's army colonel was the most well drawn of all the characters and it was nice to see him have an obvious love and respect for his men, which was fully reciprocated, rather than him just be a cookie cutter, ballbusting 'hoo-rah' type.
CG is pretty good, but somehow never convinces its totally photo-real (although in such an obvious creature feature, should it???) and there's a nice lack of any usual King Kong tropes such as a bestial love story to clog up the massive creature fighting narrative. All in, this was an utter blast for me - complete fun from start to finish. Compared to the uber serious and dark 2014 Godzilla (which I also quite enjoyed), this was a breath of fresh air.
Oddly, even from the FBI warning screens, the image on this looked really 'hot' on my 1080p PJ - whites seemed completely blown, almost to the point of obscuring detail: the WWII opening with all that white sand looked like a blank white canvas, with little to no detail on it. The contrast calmed down after this, which made me think it was artistic, but all the way through, I still thought it looked hot (an issue with the HDR to SDR mapping in my PJ perhaps?). It wasn't the most detailed of images seen, but like the recent Ghost in the Shell, I think this was intentional to suit the films 70s period. It still had plenty of detail in the image, but again the abundance of CG helped soften things down a touch. Colours were nice and rich and there was no overt digital grain or anything else to tarnish the image. The Atmos soundtrack was a hoot - all those swooping camera pans of the initial helicopter attack were matched with a soundtrack that threw sound across all 11 speakers. Huge in every way - immense LFE, precise steering of sound, a richness to the whole thing....yes sir, this was a blast of a track.
Summary - just a fun ride from start to finish. The 70s setting and lack of Kong tropes helped give this a definite fresh feel to it and with the director putting his enthusiasm on screen for us all to wallow in, I couldn't help but be sucked in by the whole thing. A total blast. The UHD is really rather good too, with a stellar Atmos track to help plaster the grin on your face. Buy it and love it.
Kong: Skull Island User Review
A blast of fresh Kong Breath amongst modern miserable-bustersReview of Kong: Skull Island UHD Blu-ray by Coz22998, Aug 12, 2017.This item was purchased for £19.99 from HMV in 2017. The reviewer still owns this product.