Kong: Skull Island Review
Kong: Skull Island
10 March 2017
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
The poster for the IMAX release is an homage to the iconic poster for Apocalypse Now (1979).
Samuel L. Jackson repeats his line,
“Hold onto your butts,” from Jurassic Park (1993), which is also about an island inhabited by giant creatures.
References to Novel Heart of Darkness
Marlow (John C. Reilly) and Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) are likely references to Joseph Conrad, and the lead character Marlow, from Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. The novella, as well as the film it inspired, Apocalypse Now (1979), are thematic and visual inspirations for this movie.
According to Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the first draft of the screenplay..
had the action taking place in 1917, and was an entirely different film. Although he liked the script, he didn’t think it was something he wanted to make. When asked what kind of monster movie he had in mind, he suggested to have it take place in the Vietnam war era, as a sort of “Apocalypse Now (1979) with monsters”, since there had never been a monster movie set in that time. He also saw interesting parallels between the political turmoil and racial riots from the 1970s and the 2010s. Contrary to his expectation, the studio loved the idea, and the script was re-worked from there.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in November 2016,
when asked what was his artistic vision with Kong and what was the process of bringing him to life, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts said: ” With Kong, there’s been obviously so many different versions of him in the past and ours needed to feel unique to our film. I had a mandate that I wanted a kid to be able to doodle him on the back of a piece of homework and for his shapes to be simple and hopefully iconic enough that, like, a third grader could draw that shape and you would know what it is. A big part of our Kong was I wanted to make something that gave the impression that he was a lonely God, he was a morose figure, lumbering around this island. We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours. Our Kong was intended to say, like, this isn’t just a big gorilla or a big monkey. This is something that is its own species. It has its own set of rules, so we can do what we want and we really wanted to pay homage to what came before…and yet do something completely different. “
There are subtle references to the movie “Jeremiah Johnson.”
At one point, the characters must decide if they should walk through a sacred graveyard with many skeletons, or go around, and thus take a longer route. The other reference is when Marlow asks about the outcome of the war: “Who won?” A line that Robert Redford used in his movie as well.
During the “Graveyard Attack” scene
, after the Skull Crawler first attacks and eats John Goodman’s character, Bill Randa, and is circling around the group in the fog, John C. Reilley (Hank Marlowe) comes forward with sword in hand and mumbles “Death before dishonor” in Japanese – “Fumeiyo no mae no shi”. “Death Before Dishonor” is a phrase meaning that one will die before one would dishonor all he/or she holds of great value. The usage of the phrase not only pin-points Marlow’s virtuous, never-backing-down personality, but that from years on Skull island with a Japanese fighter pilot, Marlow picked up a bit of Japanese and learned the tactics of his rival in order to survive the treacherous wilderness.
After Credits Scene
Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah appear in an after-credits scene as cave paintings.
References to the original King Kong (1933)..
) are subtly planted through the film. Brie Larson’s character comforting Kong is a perpetual theme throughout Kong films. Kong is seen fighting off helicopters, an obvious reference to the original Kong fighting planes in New York City, and in the climax, Kong is briefly held back by chains, much like previous Kongs, while on display.
There is an after credits scene which sets up the MonsterVerse by establishing that Kong isn’t the only king, or monster, out there. This leads to pictures of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, followed by Godzilla’s roar that can be heard when the scene ends.
Inspiration for Kong’s Design
Kong’s design is inspired by a combination of King Kong (1933) and the Japanese adaptation in the 1960s. This allows the creative team to both utilize a look similar to the classic Kong, while drawing upon the exaggerated “kaiju” aspects, and powers, displayed by the Japanese adaptation, such as greatly exaggerated height, build, strength, and supernatural abilities. This will allow a more “even” confrontation with Godzilla, in the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong (2020).
RT/Meta Critic Review
The action and special effects are mostly first-rate and Vogt-Roberts maintains a vaguely satiric tone that sidesteps schlockiness.