Somehow I was dragged into seeing Kong: Skull Island last weekend, and I’ve got to say it’s pretty good. I was expecting to see a basic explosion-filled action blockbuster, but unlike its predecessor, Kong is actually an anti-war film.
Based off of the end credit scene, it’s confirmed that Kong takes place in the same universe as 2014’s Godzilla. Personally, I didn’t enjoy Godzilla and kind of forgot about it. Both the acting and use of action was bland, and the little plot it did have was just the military chasing down Godzilla.
Kong takes place sometime after Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. The US government is leading an expedition to an unknown island called Skull Island, although it’s later revealed to be a government plot to get rid of these ancient monsters.
In order to reach the island, the expedition requires a helicopter squadron to escort them. This is when we first meet Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) and the Sky Devils. Before they head out, we get a brief scene that takes place on a military base, where the drafted soldiers are sitting around and chatting about their plans when they return home. This scene is added to humanize the men, as later they are the ones who are out to kill Kong.
Other members of the group are Bill Randa (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Randa was contracted by the government to guide the group in the uncharted jungle. Weaver is a pacifist photographer whose plan is to expose whatever is on the island; she believes the island is a secret government base.
The anti-war themes start when Packard stops Weaver at the dock before their departure. Packard explains that people like Weaver were why the military didn’t have public support while in Vietnam. She replies that if the military did their job, they wouldn’t have lost the war. He then said,
“We didn’t lose the war. We abandoned it.”
Before landing on the island, they drop explosives on the ground to determine if the island is hollow on the inside. This can represent the Napalm bombs that were dropped on Vietnam and Korea. In the film, they are what draw out Kong and the skull crawler.
Later on, the group meets Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a man who crashed on the island during WW2 with a Japanese soldier. The two put aside their differences in order to survive and later become best friends. Marlow asks the group what he missed in the last 20+ years.
Marlow: “Who’s winning the war?”
Conrad: “Which one?”
Marlow: “…That makes sense, I guess.”
Most believed that WW2 was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but little did they know it was just the beginning.
Another scene shows a soldier carrying a Vietnamese gun instead of his military issued one. When asked about it, he states that he believes that the farmer he took it from probably had never seen a gun before the Americans came. This makes you wonder if some enemies don’t really exist until you create them. Some see the Americans entering the war to stop communism, but not the North Vietnamese.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts found influence for the film in other Vietnam era based films such as Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket. The film used a warm color pallet for the action scenes, while scenes that displayed calmness switched to a cooler pallet. This is all topped off with a fantastic soundtrack filled with Vietnam era songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie. (I made a playlist below)