Hi everyone, Bryan here….
We’ve seen a ton of versions of ‘King Kong‘ over the decades from the 1933 version to the Jeff Bridges version in the 1970s, and even more recently, the 2005 version that was directed by ‘Lord of the Rings‘ director Peter Jackson. ‘King Kong‘ has been a staple in entertainment and pop culture since he debuted in the early 30s and he is showing no signs of stopping, thanks to Warner Bros.and Legendary Pictures who are taking their cues from Marvel and creating their own universe called the ‘MonsterVerse‘.
‘Kong: Skull Island‘ is not the first film however in this ‘MonsterVerse‘. The recent ‘Godzilla‘ film was the debut film in this series of movies that will be releasing over the next several years, but with ‘Kong: Skull Island‘, things are really set in motion here. This film is not a rehash of anything we’ve ever seen before with ‘King Kong‘. This is something entirely different, which results in some of the most fun you’ll have at the theater this year, thanks to director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (‘Kings of Summer‘) and writers Dan Gilroy (‘Nightcrawler‘) and Max Borenstein (‘Godzilla‘).
The film takes place at the end of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s and is inspired by films like ‘Apocalypse Now‘ and ‘Platoon‘ with it’s gorgeous visuals and military vibe, along with all of the usual rock music that coincides with this era. ‘Kong: Skull Island‘ is a great jumping off point in this MonsterVerse, never taking itself overly serious and getting straight to the action at hand, while explaining backstories and the mythology in a simple way. It’s a ton of fun in the way that Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ was a ton of fun with excellent visual effects, great fight scenes with giant monsters, and some fun characters who are stereotypical in this setting.
For instance, you have the hard nosed army Lt. Colonel with Samuel L. Jackson and his team of younger, funny troops. You also have the scientist team who head to Skull Island led by John Goodman and Corey Hawkins, along with a super badass James Bond type of guy with Tom Hiddleston. Then there is the war photographer Brie Larson who tags along to capture the mysteries of the island. All of these characters are one note and stick to that one note throughout. In the first five seconds of meeting each character, you know exactly who they’ll be. There is no transformation. Lastly though, we get John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow, a WWII Lt. who crash landed on the island almost 30 years prior, but has survived somehow.
This Hank Marlow might be one of the BEST characters in cinema history and Reilly plays him flawlessly with tons of comedic and neurotic elements. He is the one character you want to base a film series off of – he’s that good here. The story is simple though with nothing underneath the surface. This team heads to this island and find that there are some seriously giant monsters there. They then try to escape off the island without getting killed. Don’t worry, there are tons of expendable background military personnel that get a first hand look at the inside of the giant wildlife on this island, which is so much fun to watch.
The visual effects are top notch here, and they should be, because this film had a budget of almost $200 million, which was well spent here. If you’re looking for a deep, meaningful monster movie – you won’t find it here, but that’s a good thing. We need a ‘MonsterVerse‘ that is highly entertaining, fun-as-hell, and not afraid to push the bounds, and have some silly fun while doing it all. ‘Kong: Skull Island‘ is the King Kong we need right now and I can’t wait to watch it again.
The Video: Kong: Skull Island roars onto Ultra HD Blu-ray alongside a great quality HEVC H.265 encode with a Dolby Vision only Digital copy that is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. There isn’t a huge upgrade between the Blu-ray version and 4K UHD version here. There are only slight improvements, which of course is noticeable if you have the right setup.
The Audio: This release comes with an amazing Dolby Atmos track as well as a DTS-HD 7.1 mix. You will have to select the Dolby Atmos track at the main menu though every time. I’ve always wanted to hear Kong roar from overhead on my speaker system, and up until now that wasn’t possible. Luckily, Kong: Skull Island provides this aspect and it sounds great. His boisterous roar will just shake you to your core and as he swings into action, the speakers follow and feels like you are right with the giant King every step of the way.
Every snarl is heard perfectly with excellent directionality. The gunfire and explosions all pack a big punch as well with a great hefty low end of bass that is always welcome. Dialogue is always crystal clear as well and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. Going back to the overhead speakers, the bad storms that surround the island, as well as other birds flying high above all sound great and provide a very good immersive experience here. The soundtrack has those great 1970’s tunes to rock out to with the score always adding to suspense of the moment. This is one great audio track.
Audio Commentary – Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts provides an informative track as he talks about making the film, the locations, visual effects, style, characters, casting, technical aspects and more. It’s not a super fun or high energy track, but for fan’s of the film, you’ll enjoy it.
Creating a King (HD, 25 Mins.) – There are two bonus features here that feature cast and crew interviews along with some vintage footage and behind the scenes at designing Kong and his many iterations from past films.
Monarch Files 2.0 (HD, 8 Mins.) – A fun “documentary” talking about the various creatures and monsters.
The Intrepid Traveler (HD, 7 Mins.) – Tom Hiddleston gives us a tour of the sets, locations, and more.
On Location: Vietnam (HD, 6 Mins.) – Cast and crew interviews touch on filming in Vietnam.
Through the Lens (HD, 2 Mins.) – Brie Larson is the focus here and her character and some of the photos she snapped on set.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 Mins.) – There are a few deleted scenes here, which are worth watching, but bring nothing of value to the whole film.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
Kong: Skull Island is fun-as-hell film. There isn’t anything below the surface of the movie, but rather just a fun and thrilling action-adventure film with great visual effects and over-the-top characters. I love this version of Kong for sure. The 4kUHD image is excellent, but not a huge upgrade from the standard Blu-ray version, but the Dolby Atmos track is killer and available on both versions. The extras are good, but not great though. Lastly, you get a Digital Copy here, which is always good. This is a ton of fun and comes Recommended!