Dependent on a dwindling military presence in the latter days of the Vietnam War, the window of opportunity to secure government funding is closing for research company, Monarch. Their mission? To embark on a scientific expedition to Skull Island, hoping to discover new species of plant and animal life.
With none of the previous voyages ever returning, the Monarch research team made up of Bill Randa (John Goodman), Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) and San (Tian Jing) require an armed escort. Made up of an ex special forces mercenary, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and rancorous Lieutenant Colonel, Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and a team of soldiers, the group must navigate the dangerous terrain and monsters that lurk in the shadowy depths. All the while being documented by Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a war photographer that has just finished a tour with the army, embedded right at the front line of the conflict in Vietnam.
Kong: Skull Island is in fact the second instalment in the 'MonsterVerse' - cultivated by Legendary Entertainment. It's predecessor, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014) sought to reboot the saga which will ultimately lead the two colossal beasts to battle it out. Peter Jackson's Kong, stood at approximately 25 feet - don't get me wrong that's a big ape but it wouldn't be a match for the towering 350 feet for Edward's gigantic prehistoric lizard. Director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, opted for a Kong of a more comparable height of 104 feet. Whilst he wouldn't get picked first in the 'MonsterVerse' basketball team but he certainly can pack a punch - which more than one skullcrusher can vouch for and the biggest ape to grace the silver screen to date.
A large group originally head out for Skull Island and are seemingly eliminated, not long before entering it's airspace with a fleet of helicopters - synonymous with Vietnam warfare. Whilst they had endured the battles previous, Kong soon makes light work of them. Swatting them like flies out of the sky, sending them hurtling to the ground below and exploding like the seismic charges they had dropped just moments before.
The remaining survivors, dotted across various crash sites on the undulating landscape attempt to join up and reconvene at the landing site where 'help' would achievable. They have three days. One of the groups happen upon an indigenous tribe in the middle of the jungle, where a disheveled WWII pilot, Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) has been accepted as one of their own, having crash landed on the island decades before. Marlow's comedic dialogue is a fantastic counter to Lt. Packard's vengeful persona when the islands monstrous inhabitants aren't going toe to toe - or claw, if you please.
Whilst the visual effects are outstanding, not only with the design of Kong himself but also some really breathtaking cinematography by Larry Fong. With an extremely well produced soundtrack combining composer, Henry Jackman's orchestral score with classic hits reminiscent of palpable Vietnam war hits. An endearing love letter to classic war films like Platoon, Predator and Apocalypse Now - the movies own poster replicating almost an exact shot for shot of the infamous helicopter sunrise, not only serving as inspiration for this film but also the likes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I went into this film with fairly low expectations - given the poor reception of Jackson's 2004 efforts and came out elated; plenty of action between both man and beasts alike, outstanding visuals and a catchy soundtrack.