There is another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Eluard. Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Gallimard, 1968.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

The first film I ever watched 20 times was the original King Kong. In 1976, aged ten, I wrote away for production releases and still photos of the De Laurentiis Kong, which I subsequently saw several times at the theater. This man-in-suit Kong was no more unbelievable than the latest CGI version.  

Kong: Skull Island is one of the better monster movies. It features plenty of weird beasties and solid daylight and night action scenes.  It's a lost world story, and that world is presented clearly and with some depth.

The main action of the film takes place in 1973. U.S. military forces have been kicked out of Vietnam. A palpable air of military defeat and imperial frustration permeates the movie. No one here will have the hubris to kidnap and publicly display Kong for the delectation of the New York smart set.

It's a far cry from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack in 1933 or Dino De Laurentiis and John Guillermin in 1976. In 2017, beauty does not kill the beast: they collaborate to thwart remains of the shattered dignity of the U.S. government in Southeast Asia.

The movie recalls Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now in several ways:

-A secret mission into the heart of darkness.

-A mad helicopter squadron commander (Samuel L. Jackson).

-Hueys blaring music and silhouetted against the orange disc of the sun.

-A voyage up-river in a small boat.

-Rock music needledrops.

A few concerns need to be mentioned, however. They all revolve around the shallow and, shall we say, civilian treatment of the U.S. military. I'm sure to veterans the behavior of the soldiers in Kong: Skull Island is even more unrealistic than the behavior of the skyscraper-sized gorilla.  Captains hugging non-coms who have survived a crash? Doubtful, to say the least. Manually deploying munitions from a Huey for seismic mapping? Again, doubtful.
A company C.O. taking field orders at a pay telephone booth? It beggars belief.

Launching military helicopters from the deck of a freighter?  I'd like to see the footnotes, please.

Actor Shea Whigham seems to be the only actor interested in inhabiting the skin of a G.I.  Unfortunate that his character's death is so perfunctory.


No comments:

Post a Comment