Conversations: ‘Source’ Reporters Ted and Keith Talk About ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and the Future of Kaiju Movies in America

The following is a conversation between The Source writers Teddy Byrne and Keith O’Neil after they saw Kong: Skull Island. Spoilers ahead.

Alright… let’s talk Kaiju.

Keith: Dude, LOVED Kong: Skull Island. Probably the most fun I had watching a movie since Jurassic World. The plot to me was like Predator meets the plot to Jurassic Park III (a group goes to a dangerous jungle under false pretenses and winds up becoming the prey).

Ted: It was fantastic. When I first heard they were doing a King Kong reboot I was nervous. It wasn’t that long ago when Peter Jackson’s version came out. But instead of a retread of the same ol’ story, it was a complete reimagining and it fits in perfectly with this new “Monsterverse”.

Keith: Absolutely! I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 2014 Godzilla movie, but this was a massive improvement over it.

Conversations: 'The Source's' Ted and Keith Talk About 'Kong: Skull Island' and the Future of Kaiju Movies in America3/15/2017 3/15/2017 3/15/2017 3/16/2047
“The heck Keith just say about me?” Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ToHo

What I really enjoyed was how there was a completely different set of characters in this Kong movie. No Carl Denim this time. No ‘Damsel In Distress’. Now we have trained soldiers and the government after Kong.

Ted: It was a realistic approach to how the USA would have handled this situation back in the 1970s. Beat the Russians to find out what’s happening… then napalm the crap out of everything.

Keith: Right. Scorched Earth Protocol. To me, the two standouts were Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly. Loved how Jackson went Captain Ahab on Kong and the callback to Jurassic Park before the chopper took off to Skull Island.

Ted: “Hold on to your butts.”

Keith: I’d say this was John C. Reilly’s best performance since Walk Hard or Step Brothers. He was perfect for the role. Not overly crazy and didn’t try to make every line a joke.

Ted: And it wasn’t just Jackson and Reilly. Brie Larson was solid and same for Tom Hiddleston. Plus, you had a great batch of young talent holding their own like Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell and especially Jason Mitchell (who I felt stole every scene he was in). It’s also crazy how many actors in these movies have ties to the superhero genre.

Conversations: 'The Source's' Ted and Keith Talk About 'Kong: Skull Island' and the Future of Kaiju Movies in America
Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson in Kong: Skull Island. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Keith: Yeah. In this movie alone, you have Dr. Doom, Captain Marvel, a member of the Nova Corps, Nick Fury, and Loki. Am I missing someone?

Ted: Don’t forget Shea Wigham who played Captain Dooley in Agent Carter!

Keith: Ah, forgot him!

Ted: How could you… he had the best scene in the movie! (spoilers) When he tried to be heroic and sacrifice himself, only to have a Skull Crawler tail whip him right into the side of a mountain. One of the many perfectly placed comedic moments.

Keith: I forgot he was in Agent Carter! HAH! I watched the 2005 remake the night before I saw Kong: Skull Island in IMAX 3D. I liked Skull Island better. Don’t get me wrong, the 2005 Peter Jackson remake is a love letter to the 1933 original film, but it was just way too long. There wasn’t any need to elaborate on everyone’s back story. Also, it seemed like they took forever to get to Skull Island.

Ted: That’s the thing. It was a perfect modern interpretation of the original film. However, it was exactly like the original. Skull Island didn’t fall into that trap and gave us an original Kong story without having to venture to New York City. It also avoided similar traps that Jackson ran into such as Kong fighting dinosaurs (which wouldn’t compete with Jurassic World) and as you mentioned the ‘Damsel in Distress.’

Conversations: 'The Source's' Ted and Keith Talk About 'Kong: Skull Island' and the Future of Kaiju Movies in America
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Keith: The Skull Crawler fight at the end was a kinda-sorta Kong/T-Rex fight. But the special effects in the 2005 film still hold up. It looks like they really were in 1933 New York City!

Ted: I have no ill will towards the Jackson version. Especially with his choice of casting Jack Black (which at the time seemed like a bad choice). Throw in quality work from Naomi Watts, Kyle Chandler, Adrien Brody and of course Andy Serkis as both Lumpy and Kong… and King Kong was a nice throwback to the pictures of the roaring 20s.

With that said, I’m still going to say I enjoyed the action-packed (and that’s an understatement) Skull Island more. Plus, there were plenty of Godzilla references… which gets me giddy!

Keith: Yeah, I like the 2005 remake. My one complaint was that it was way too long. How can I hate it? It gave me one of my top 3 meals of all-time: the Kong-Sized Whopper, Large Chocolate Banana shake and large onion rings at the Burger King behind Keene State College after my Psych final in 2005. GO OWLS! Plus, Kong: Skull Island is so good, it made me buy the 2014 Godzilla movie! I’m hooked on this Monsterverse now.

Conversations: 'The Source's' Ted and Keith Talk About 'Kong: Skull Island' and the Future of Kaiju Movies in America
“Now that’s more like it, Keith!” Photo Credit: Snickers/Mars Inc.

Ted: So, is this a good time to talk about that post-credits scene?

Keith: Yep. Now THAT is how you do post-credits scenes. Probably the best one since Iron Man 2. I liked how it was an actual scene and not a quick 30-second scene that was a payoff to a joke earlier in the movie.

Ted: Or just Kong sitting around eating squid schwarma. The best part for me was how it wasn’t just a Godzilla reference, it threw out images of Mothra, Rhodan, and teased an epic battle between The King Lizard and King Ghidorah. As someone who grew up watching the poorly translated Japanese Kaiju movies, it gave me chills knowing that these great monster characters are on the horizon in this monster-verse.

Keith: Oh, yeah! These guys know what they’re doing. ToHo doesn’t need to worry. The monsters are in good hands.

Ted: It also gives a lot of hope for 2019’s Godzilla: King of Monsters. Let’s just hope they learn from Kong: Skull Island and don’t save the big monster battles for the final 25-minutes. We demand constant monster action!!

Keith: Exactly. And don’t invent blah looking monsters for Godzilla to fight.

Ted: Who needs flying mating bugs when you have the three-headed King Ghidorah?

Keith: Exactly. The soundtrack to Kong: Skull Island was great, too! With the Vietnam setting, I had instant flashbacks to Tropic Thunder when Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” played.

Ted: I’m pretty sure the director just raided through every Vietnam War-based movie soundtrack and picked the best songs. Side note: why did that one military guy carry a record player throughout the whole movie? Was it so he could play that one David Bowie song? Just a pet peeve I had with Kong.

Keith: How else were they gonna jam out to “Ziggy Stardust”?

Ted: Touché. All in all, Kong: Skull Island was a great movie based upon a familiar character with amazing action spots and terrific actors doing their thing. If this is how the 2017 summer blockbuster season is going to kick off… then this is going to be a hell of a year!