The new movie Kong: Skull Island is another in a long series of movies based on the original movie King Kong (the one where he scales the Empire State Building) made in 1933. I’m not going to worry about giving away the plot because it is always the same—Kong is living peaceably on an island in the middle of nowhere, a group of scientists (and a few guys with guns) stop by to explore it, they irritate the hell out of Kong, Kong punishes all his irritators except for the pretty gal. In the end, Kong spares a few other people as well because he is basically a nice ape. Kong then either dies a tragic death or lives to be rediscovered by the film industry a few years down the road.
I, as I am sure a few of you, am enamored by giant apes and will see any movie where gorillas are the main character. I think my infatuation goes back to my childhood when not a lot of the movie monsters—Godzilla, The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Mothra, or the Thing—were never anything that I expected to encounter at any time or in any place. But King Kong was different—Kong was based on reality (sort of) and so was scary in a real kind of way.
So I convinced my wife to go with me to see the new monkey film. I had agreed to go with her to the movie La La Land and she owed me. Although she disputed this since I got my daughter to go in my stead, she couldn’t ignore the tears in my eyes and has this strange sense of fairness that always works to my advantage.
So we went to what was the first 3D movie I have seen since Avatar, which was the first, and only movie I had seen in this format. Paying three bucks more to see it seemed extravagant, but I had heard that in 10 years 3D had gotten better (imagine that) and in order to see it and not interfere with our bed time we had to go in the afternoon when only the 3D version was showing.
I always worry when I go to a special effects movie that the theater will be filled with cell-phone brats, but most every one was our age or slightly younger (ok, not slightly but they weren’t kids). The only distraction was that while the previews were showing some of the audience just couldn’t stay off their phones. I noticed for the first time that phones are now three times larger than they used to be. They also put off enough light that they look like small camping lanterns scattered around the theater. At least the phones were turned off when the movie started.
The movie’s plot was exactly what I expected it to be. Kong gets pissed when they drop bombs (supposedly to measure seismic waves for geologists, but later we are told it was done to get any creatures up and moving) in his neighborhood, magnificently swats down a whole fleet of helicopters, seriously mangles most of his invaders, and then wanders away to fight a few of the other gigantic pre-historic animals running around.
The conclusion of the movie follows the few remaining good guys (all the evil ones having been previously slammed into a mountain side or simply squished when stepped on) as they are trying to get to their extraction point when a huge, triangular-shaped (to understand you would have to see the movie) lizard/dinosaur shows up intent on snacking on them. Kong shows up just in the nick of time and the resulting fight is what we had paid our 28 dollars for. In my mind, money well spent. In my wife’s mind, not so much.
As we were leaving, she said the movie was just the same old thing with no concernable acting whatsoever—she just doesn’t get it. Besides, Kong is a great actor.
By the way, nothing has changed with the 3D effects. It still is a little weird, slightly annoying, and makes me dizzy at times. I never am going to fit into this new world of digital fascination.