I originally had my doubts about extensively reviving the Toho cinematic universe. With all those monsters, I feared it would disintegrate into a cluttered, implausible (I mean, REALLY implausible) mess. If Kong: Skull Island (2017, Legendary Entertainment and Warner Brothers, directed by Jordan Vogt Roberts) is any indication, I need not have worried.
I can’t say this about every movie that Toho distributed, but some of them had mind-capturing, enduring concepts. I come across them every now and then when I’m spinning channels, get interested, and ultimately end up disappointed by the special effects. But… oh, those concepts. That’s why I started watching the Legendary/Warner Brothers franchise. To date, the special effects have delivered, and the stories are interesting. I like the re-imagined take which pays homage to the original movies while adapting the plots and themes more to the expectations of a modern audience.
I like the background explanation of monsters living deep in the oceans and in earth’s crust, where they can feed on radiation. In this light, this latest iteration of the giant ape provides a backstory in a period piece format. We get glimpses of World War II and Viet Nam war imagery mixed in with the Kaiju format, and I found the combination kind of refreshing.
The cast is very good, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly…
… John Goodman as an underfunded leader of MONARCH in its early days…
… and Samuel L. Jackson in his own Heart of Darkness cinematic turn.
But the character interactions and the characters themselves provide a backdrop for Kong and other assorted monsters, some of which are absolutely disgusting. The latter are given some scenes to match their nature. Mostly, however, the visuals were innovative, fun, and “realistic”.
I thought the plot was good for a film in this genre, but I’ll forego giving a synopsis… Wait. You say you want one anyway? Oh, okay. Here:
By the way, he’s still growing…
Despite the success of the Marvel and Jurassic Park franchises (which I love, by the way) this has the potential to become my favorite (for strictly personal reasons). At any rate, it is a cinematic universe which this 64-year-old fifth grade boy looks forward to exploring.