Taking place right after the Vietnam war, a crew goes into Skull Island and are surprised with the unexpected world they’ve walked into. One that has been reimagined by the producers of Godzilla to bring ‘one of the most powerful monster myths of all’ in Kong: Skull Island.
The original King Kong story has been told, but story writer John Gatins told us what has changed and why. “In Kong, traditionally it’s a very classic story of a misunderstood monster that is really a Beauty and the Beast story. That’s the version that they’ve done like three times. So we didn't want to do that because it’s been done and done well.” So they (Gatins and producers) thought, “What about that story could we take that would still make it feel like Kong even though it’s not that story? The idea to me was this idea of a misunderstood creature.”
This concept coexisted with morality. Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad) explained his understanding of an important theme in this film. “For me, a theme in the film is the power and majesty of nature. And I think human beings all understand that actually a healthy connection with the natural world makes us more human and not less. And it’s an idea that’s threaded through and began particularly by Ken Watanabe’s character in 2014 Godzilla. ‘The arrogance in man is thinking nature is in our control when it’s actually the other way around.’” He added, “Inside all the spectacle and all the action this film contains, there is something reassuring about that. There is a natural intelligence at work, which is designed to keep life in balance. And I think that idea is something we can really connect to.”
Between morality and a misunderstood creature is the fight of a man and his soldiers who just got back from serving in the Vietnam war. Samuel L. Jackson told us in depth about of his character, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard. “He’s a warrior. He’s a soldier. His pride is wounded in a very real kind of way” because Preston is “coming off a situation where people are saying we lost the Vietnam war, he's saying ‘we didn't lose the war, we abandoned it.’” In all of this, animosity builds between Preston and Kong. “There is that revenge factor,” said Jackson. “There’s also the basic tenant that man is stronger than anything on this planet… We’ve been here forever. We have ingenuity.” Lt. Preston lost one war; he doesn't want to lose another.
A photographer, both in the film and real life, Brie Larson expressed that “being the voice of reason in this film is pretty incredible. There’s really just two female representations in this movie and I get to be one of those two.” The way Brie looks at a story is by finding its metaphor. Her character Mason Weaver (Larson’s character) gets to take on the “feminine approach.” She describes the film in two sides or as she expressed, two ‘camps’. “What we’re dealing with is mans infatuation with dominating, controlling the things around it. It’s deep insecurity about something being stronger, bigger or more powerful than itself and its need to prove who’s at the top. So you have that camp in this film. And then you have Weaver who doesn't feel like coexisting diminishes anything inside of her and that you can let this thing live and let this whole ecosystem live and that’s beautiful. And we need to respect it.”
Aboard that “camp” are rising stars, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton) and Toby Kebbell (Ben Hur) whose characters Mills and Chapman both share the idea of making it back home. Jason expressed, “My character was ready go home. I’m thinking American cheeseburger and a Budweiser the entire time. All of this was a bad idea. We just left a war and we’re lucky to make it. Why are ever gonna try this again?” The probability of ‘paying off your mortgage and paying things off’ was one of Chapman’s survival thoughts. Toby added, “It felt very real. It felt very honest.”
On creating and interpreting Skull Island, filmmakers say they “locked onto the year 1973 as a central component”. The elements of this period are a favorite for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. To truly capture the details of this time period were “specially designed anamorphic lenses,” created by Vogt-Roberts with director of photography Larry Fong in collaboration with Panavision. Fong said in an interview, this ‘helped push the 70’s look they were looking for’.
Also starring in Kong: Skull Island are John Ortiz as Victor Nieves, John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow, Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks, Tian Jing as San, and John Goodman as Bill Randa. When asked about getting onboard for this project, Goodman’s answer was simple: “I really love King Kong.”
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters Friday, March 10th.