Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kong: Skull Island -- Movie Review and Kong Flick Comparison, Part 3

Note: this entry is the last of 3 about Kong: Skull Island. Part 1 is here, two days ago. Part 2 is here, from yesterday.

Photo: Kong and Apocalypse Now Crossover Shot. (Don't ask where the natives got the hydraulics necessary to build this.) From this IMDb page.

The movie might not make you feel smarter, but you'll perhaps nod along with some cultural references and homages, unless you were born after, say, 2001.

First, as you see in the poster above, there's a nod to 1986's Platoon. Speaking of war movies, there are a few very obvious nods to Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. We've got major characters named Conrad (after Heart of Darkness's author, Joseph Conrad) and Marlow (after the main character in both Conrad's book and Francis Ford Coppola's movie, which takes place in Viet Nam [another nod] and is based on Conrad's book).

And the movie's most famous line--"The horror...the horror..."--is lifted directly off the pages of Conrad's book, without credit. Ugh.

Photo: The famous Apocalypse Now poster, from its IMDb page

If that wasn't enough, John C. Reilly's character is obviously Dennis Hopper's zany (and drugged-up) photographer from Apocalypse Now--a direct comparison. Almost an exact copy. And both novel and film is mostly about a boat trip up a river to capture someone who's thought to be very dangerous--and is--but who also has a shocking truth to tell, and whose anger and possible insanity is distressingly easy to understand and relate to. He is not what he seems, or what you've been told he is. Or what you'd expect. That's Kong in this movie, which you'll definitely see.

And Kong is Kurtz from the book and movie. And Kong and Kurtz are both worshiped by the jungle's natives (Conrad's Kurtz, from the book, is in the Congo, while the movie Kurtz is in Viet Nam.) And the choppers in the movie's poster is a direct reference to the famous opening of Apocalypse Now, with its choppers, and all three works, the book and the two Kong movies, all have the same theme: Mankind has a heart of darkness to all living things, including mankind.

Samuel L. Jackson's character is a mad Ahab from Moby Dick, but is even more a direct copy of his man-loving, man-is-all-powerful character from Deep Blue Sea. This is such an exact duplicate of that role that I'm a bit surprised that he hasn't come into more critical panning. True, Christoph Waltz won two Oscars for essentially playing the same role in consecutive Quentin Tarantino movies (and his turn in Inglorious Basterds was much better), but, still...Maybe Jackson would've been criticized more if his name had been, say, Brie Larson.

But I'm over it.

So if you like creature movies, and if you remember the Creature Double Feature flicks with a little fondness, and if you know your war movies, literature, and cultural references, or if you just like a good popcorn flick that's very fast-paced, that looks great, that has a directorial flair of its own, and that looks like a franchise that promises more of the same, go see it. It's right up there with Spielberg's original Jurassic Park, and with the latest Jurassic World, and with Jackson's King Kong, though maybe it finishes just a notch below these in overall value. Still, well worth your time.

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