The Legend of Zelda: The Ring of Destiny, Chapter 11
HPW starts the Second-Ever Triforce Tournament strong with the Bracket of Power! Who survives day one of round one into the semifinals?
- Bracket of Power: Yuga VS Darbus; Yuga wins and advances to the next round.
- Bracket of Power: King Moblin VS Hinox; Hinox wins and advances to the next round.
- Bracket of Power: Nabooru VS Groose; Groose wins and advances to the next round.
- Bracket of Power: Ganondorf VS Midna; Ganondorf wins and advances to the next round.
PLAY BY PLAY
HPW and HXS TV run down the match-ups!
The tournament starts with the Bracket of Power! Nabooru is the only female wrestler in the bracket, and she is up against the Skyloft Stud! Is #NBR, Nobody Ready, for what she’ll bring to the tournament? There are also some incredible returns to this bracket, such as Darbus and King Moblin, but of course last year’s winner, Ganondorf Dragmire! Will the original winner of the Bracket of Power, and the second-ever HPW Triforce Champion, dominate again?
Yuga VS Darbus!
Last year, The Artist was in the Bracket of Courage and was a signature victory for Link on the Hero of Hyrule’s path to the top! Will Yuga redeem himself against the gargantuan Goron that stands before him?
The bell rings and the fans here at Goro River are strongly behind Darbus as he circles with Yuga. They tie up but Yuga gets around and CLUBS Darbus on the back. Darbus doesn’t even flinch! Yuga gulps as Darbus glares at him, but Yuga baits Darbus to the ropes and dumps him out! Darbus is on the apron, Yuga dropkicks his legs out and Darbus bumps off the edge! Yuga runs to build speed and goes for a dropkick, but Darbus steps aside and lets Yuga slide out. Darbus then uses one arm to SHOVE Yuga into the barriers! Darbus brings Yuga up in a gorilla press and he TOSSES Yuga into the ring! Yuga crawls as Darbus gets back in the ring.
Darbus stalks Yuga, then dead lifts him in a waistlock. Yuga flails, throws elbows and gets free! Yuga runs but Darbus CLOBBERS him with a full body attack! Darbus looms over Yuga, drags him back up with one arm, for a CHOKE SLAM! Cover, TWO!! Yuga survives but Darbus keeps his cool. Darbus dead lifts Yuga again and GERMAN SUPLEXES him! Yuga flies across the way, tumbles and gets out of the ring. Darbus storms over, but Yuga chop blocks him in the ropes! Then Yuga gets up on the apron and boots Darbus in the back to POST him! Yuga gets in the ring, drags Darbus from the corner and rolls him up to cover, TWO! Darbus grits his teeth but Yuga is the one upset!
Yuga stomps away on Darbus’ leg and fans boo. Darbus throws body shots but Yuga boots him down. Yuga grabs a leg and gives it a DDT to the mat! Darbus clutches the foot, Yuga KICKS Darbus in the back! Darbus is on his stomach as Yuga stomps his other leg. Darbus crawls to ropes and Yuga grabs a leg to bring Darbus around. Yuga SLAMS the leg on the edge, then soaks up the heat as fans boo. Then Yuga elbows Darbus back down, grabs the leg again and SLAMS it against the apron again! Yuga drags Darbus out by his leg and brings him over to Side Leg Sweep him into barriers! Darbus drops to his knees, and Yuga gives him a basement DDT to the floor!
Yuga leaves Darbus behind as the ring count begins. After all, a count-out is still a win in this tournament! Darbus doesn’t sit up until 3, crawls over to the ring at 5, and drags himself up to the apron. Yuga rushes over but Darbus shoves him away. Darbus steps through the ropes but Yuga somersaults back and leaps to hit a COMPLETE SHOT! Yuga rolls Darbus over to cover, TWO! Darbus survives and fans rally up behind him. Yuga grows frustrated, and he stalks Darbus as he crawls to a corner. Yuga stomps a mudhole in, the ref counts but Yuga stops at 4. He drags Darbus out of the corner to hook a leg, but Darbus resists, and he monkey flips Yuga into buckles!
Yuga writhes and Darbus goes after him in the corner. Fans cheer as Darbus gives Yuga stomps in return. Darbus drags Yuga up, whips him corner to corner and follows, to corner splash! Darbus whips Yuga back the other way, and hits another corner splash! Yuga flounders and staggers, but Darbus whips him corner to corner again! Yuga goes up and over this time, and hits another Side Leg Sweep! Yuga keeps Darbus rolling back for a leg hook clutch! Cover, TWO! Yuga grows frustrated and he hammers away on Darbus’ back. Yuga then hops up the corner, aims at Darbus as he rises, and leaps for a DESTROYER!! Cover, TWO!! Darbus survives and fans are fired up!
Yuga is furious and he goes to his corner. He grabs his “magic wand” even though it’s more like a scepter with LED lights in printer ink colors of cyan, magenta and yellow inside. Yuga wants to hit Darbus but the ref stops him! They argue over the item and Yuga lets the ref take it. But as the ref puts the scepter back, he misses Yuga hitting a LOW BLOW KICK! Darbus doubles over, and Yuga runs to SUNSET BUCKLE BOMB! But Yuga isn’t done there, he drags Darbus by his legs, ties them up in a figure four but pulls them back into Darbus’ face! And Yuga adds on by hooking Darbus’ arms with his legs in a double omoplata! THE PICTURE FRAME!! Darbus is trapped, and he verbally quits! Yuga wins!!
Winner: Yuga, by submission (advances to the second round)
The Artist holds on until he is satisfied, and then he soaks up all the heat from the fans! Yuga then takes his wand back and waves it at the titantron. The tournament bracket appears on screen, and his name appears on the next portion to signify his moving on to the semifinals. Will Yuga turn the bracket into his own personal masterpiece?
King Moblin VS Hinox!
Speaking of gargantuan, a battle of superheavyweights is upon us! Moblin looks normal sized going against the Super Cyclops, but can he send Hinox packing with the world’s largest black eye?
The bell rings and the two stare down as fans rally up. The two circle, egging the other on. They tie up, and Hinox powers Moblin right to a corner. The ref calls for a break and counts, and Hinox lets off at 4. Hinox dares Moblin to bring it, so Moblin rushes him! Hinox blocks the tackle with a facelock, CLUBS Moblin on the back, but Moblin just frowns as he glares at Hinox. Moblin throws forearm after forearm, then runs, but Hinox BOOTS him down! Hinox roars and fans fire up. But Moblin gets up, runs, redirects Hinox and rams him shoulder to shoulder! Hinox stays up, and he dares Moblin to try that again. Moblin runs, rams Hinox again, but again Hinox stays up!
Moblin runs a third time, ducks Hinox’s haymaker and comes back to leaping shoulder tackle! Hinox staggers and rebounds off ropes, Moblin side steps and UPPERCUTS! Hinox wobbles but still stays up! Moblin fires up and runs again, and he BLASTS Hinox with a big shoulder tackle! Hinox is finally down and fans are going nuts for Moblin! Moblin stomps Hinox to a corner, then stomps him in the corner, but Hinox just gets mad. Hinox tanks the stomps and Moblin isn’t sure what to do now. Moblin throws forearms as Hinox rises but Hinox just keeps getting up! Hinox leans into the forearms, then DECKS Moblin with one!
Hinox drags Moblin up, pushes him to a corner and pushes him against the buckles. The ref counts but Hinox hushes the crowd, to CHOP Moblin in the chest! Even fans are stinging from that one, but Hinox brings Moblin around to bump him off buckles. Hinox pushes Moblin against buckles again, hushes the crowd again, and CHOPS Moblin again! Moblin flops over, and Hinox stands on him at the ropes! The ref counts but Hinox steps off at 3, and Moblin gasps and sputters more as he bails out of the ring. Hinox waits as Moblin catches his breath on the outside and the ref counts. Moblin drags himself to the railing at 3 and uses the railing to get up at 6. Moblin hobbles back to the apron and rolls in at 8, which fans cheer.
Hinox still waits as Moblin gets up in a corner. Moblin takes deep breaths, and then he approaches Hinox, daring him to bring it on. Hinox laughs, but then Moblin SLAPS him! Uh oh…! Hinox glares at Moblin but Moblin kicks low and throws body shots! Moblin fires off forearms, a few more kicks to the leg, and he gets Hinox down to a knee! Moblin clubs away on Hinox’s back, then he runs, to CROSSBODY Hinox down! Cover, ONE as Hinox sits up with Moblin in his arms! Hinox gets up and carries Moblin, and then POWERSLAMS him down! Cover, TWO!!
Hinox doesn’t let off, he brings Moblin right up and into a scoop! Hinox aims for a corner but Moblin slips out! Moblin shoves Hinox into buckles, gets him in a waistlock, or at least tries! Hinox butt bumps out of it easily, and he DECKS Moblin again! Fans duel as Moblin sits up in a daze. Hinox reaches down and choke grips Moblin, to dead lift him, for a CHOKE SLAM!! Hinox kneels and covers with one hand, Hinox wins!
Winner: Hinox, by pinfall (advances to the second round)
What a showing of strength! Hinox moves on into the second round and will face Yuga, will he win that match even easier than this one?
Nabooru VS Groose!
The iconic Gerudo wrestler already has the historic honor of being the first woman to wrestle in this tournament! But will she have the historic honor of being the first woman to win in this tournament? Or will the Skyloft Stud finally get off the ground and soar into the second round?
Tingle and Skull Kid, Groose’s tag partners in their new trio, The Studly Guys, join commentary, and commentary congratulates Skull Kid on being chosen to face Link in the non-title match for the Bracket of Courage event. Skull Kid thanks them, but just wants to cheer on his teammate right now. The bell rings and Groose ties up with Nabooru right away. They go around, onto ropes, into a corner, then more ropes. Groose tosses Nabooru but she rolls through to get back to her feet. Groose nods respect and they tie up again. They go around, Groose powers Nabooru to ropes then tosses her again! Nabooru doesn’t roll up to her feet this time, and Groose puffs up his chest with hands on his hips.
Nabooru looks at the crowd with an “Are you serious?” expression, and then she CHOPS Groose in the chest! Groose isn’t so puffed up anymore! Nabooru wrenches an arm to a hammerlock, Groose drops and rolls then wrenches back. Nabooru rolls, handsprings, wrenches, and reels Groose in for a headlock. Groose powers out, Nabooru ducks and dodges and shotgun dropkicks him down! Groose gets to a corner and now Nabooru flexes on him! Fans cheer and Groose nods again. Groose gets up and circles with Nabooru. They tie up, Groose throws Nabooru down, then gut wrenches for a suplex!
Groose gut wrenches again, brings Nabooru up for a rack but Nabooru slips out. Nabooru jumps and gets Groose with a neckbreaker! Nabooru rolls back to a cover, TWO, but she gets Groose’s arms and drags him into the GERUDO STRETCH! Groose staggers as he tries to stay up and as fans fire up! Nabooru pulls harder on his arms but Groose reaches out with a leg, for a ropebreak! Nabooru lets go quickly and watches Groose as he slowly gets up. Skull Kid and Tingle cheer Groose on but Nabooru runs and handsprings to overhead arm-drag Groose! Nabooru gets the arms again but Groose scrambles to fight off the Gerudo Stretch!
Groose gets back to ropes, the ref counts and Nabooru lets go quickly to reset. Groose is wary as he and Nabooru circle again. Nabooru shoots in, gets a leg and trips Groose up. Groose scrambles but Nabooru heel hooks! Groose endures as Nabooru pulls on the leg. He drags himself and Nabooru over and gets the ropebreak. Nabooru lets go right away, to go out and drag Groose to the apron. She turns him over, and puts on a GERUDO STRETCH against the apron! The ref counts because it’s out of bounds, but Nabooru lets go at 3. Nabooru gets back up on the apron and slingshots in to drop knees on Groose’s back! She then drags Groose back, rolls with a waistlock to get a bridging cover, TWO!
Nabooru stalks Groose, drags him up to a dragon sleeper, but he spins through and throws her off. Groose runs in and tackles her to a corner! He RAMS his shoulder into her again and again but the ref counts. Groose stops at 4, whips Nabooru corner to corner and runs in to corner clothesline! He hoists her up top, climbs up, but Nabooru throws forearms. Groose drops off the corner, Nabooru adjusts and leaps, missile dropkick! Groose flounders up and Nabooru runs up and DOUBLE ST- Wait, Groose stays up!? And he pushes Nabooru away with his pecs! But Nabooru flips to land on her feet!
Nabooru kicks but Groose blocks, spins her around, and goes after the arms! He gets the chicken wings but Nabooru resists the turn. Groose still gets her turned around but she shoves him away. Groose turns around into Nabooru’s BOOT and he staggers to the ropes. Nabooru runs up, waistlocks and rolls Groose back, with a bridging cover! TWO, and Groose gets Nabooru’s arms again! Groose gets up and around to pop Nabooru into a Camel Clutch! Nabooru endures as Groose bends her back and fans fire up! Nabooru powers up to get an arm free, manages to roll Groose back to another cover, TWO!
Nabooru gets up but walks into Groose’s JAB! Another JAB! Fans chant “GROOSE!” with each JAB! “GROOSE! GROOSE!” Groose winds up the left hand but Nabooru ROUNDHOUSES first! Groose wobbles, Nabooru fireman’s carries, USHIGOROSHI! To a ghost pin! TWO!! Skull Kid and Tingle are losing their minds on commentary as Groose survives, but Nabooru sunset flips! Groose stays up, slaps Nabooru’s hands away and goes to stomp, but Nabooru rolls out of the way. Nabooru mule kicks Groose’s leg out, front kicks, then ROLLING ELBOWS! Fans fire up with Nabooru and she dares Groose to get back up!
Groose slowly rises, Nabooru grabs him in a dragon sleeper again, but he snapmares free! Groose winds up the left, but Nabooru ducks under! Nabooru handsprings, but Groose catches her to a waistlock! GERMAN SUPLEX! Groose holds on, brings Nabooru back up, and chicken wings the arms! Groose turns Nabooru, LOFT WING DRIVER! Cover, TWO!?! Nabooru survives and Groose is shocked! Skull Kid is freaking out but Tingle calms him down as Groose brings Nabooru up. Groose gives her an atomic drop, then a BIG back suplex! Groose drags Nabooru around by her legs, aims at a corner and CATAPULTS! Nabooru bounces off buckles, into chicken wings, and ANOTHER LOFT WING DRIVER!! Cover, Groose wins!
Winner: Groose, by pinfall (advances to the second round)
Skull Kid and Tingle jump off commentary to celebrate with Groose! Though, the way they’re acting, you’d think Groose already won the whole tournament. But Groose is past the first round and headed to the second! Though, looking at who he could end up facing, will he be doomed either way?
Ganondorf VS Midna!
By either fortune or misfortune, this incredible match is already happening in the first round! The Gerudo Ace and the Twilight Princess could be battling for the entire bracket right now! Who becomes the instant favorite to win the Bracket of Power?
The bell rings and the fans rally already as Midna steps up and dares Ganondorf to bring it. Ganondorf chuckles and circles with her. Midna has her hands up for a grapple but Ganondorf doesn’t even care. She gets annoyed and shoves him! Midna tells him to take her seriously or she’ll “whoop your ass!” Ganondorf laughs at her and says, “Yeah, sure.” But then Midna SLAPS him! Ganondorf doesn’t laugh this time. He swings fast hands but Midna bobs ‘n’ weaves to then kick low. Midna grabs Ganondorf and turns him, but he powers out and throws a back elbow! Midna staggers, Ganondorf whips but Midna holds ropes. Ganondorf runs in but Midna gets around and table tops him for a roll up! TWO, and the two stand off as fans cheer.
Midna smirks at Ganondorf as the two circle again. They tie up, she wrenches an arm to a wristlock, yanks on the arm, then digs an elbow into his shoulder. Ganondorf endures, rolls, and reels Midna in to ram her with a shoulder! Ganondorf then wrenches her arm to a wristlock in return. Ganondorf whips again but Midna ducks to get around and waistlock. Midna floats all over Ganondorf then reclines on him like he’s a lounge chair. Ganondorf gets up and Midna is right on her feet to ROCK him with a right! Midna spins Ganondorf around and around and hits the neckbreaker! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally as Midna drags Ganondorf up. Midna reels him in, underhooks, but Ganondorf resists the lift. Ganondorf powers up and has Midna in the Hebra lift, only for Midna to slip out! Midna wrangles Ganondorf into a BACKBREAKER, to COMPLETE SHOT! Cover, TWO, but Midna has an arm and drags Ganondorf around! Ganondorf resists the crossface, scrambles and reaches out to get the ropebreak! Referee Sahasrahla counts, Midna lets go at 3 and STOMPS Ganondorf on the head! Fans are fired up as Midna looms over Ganondorf! Ganondorf bails out but Midna follows, and pushes him into barriers! And then whips him into more barriers!
Midna CHOPS Ganondorf as Sahasrahla starts a ring count. Midna whips but Ganondorf reverses and sends her into barriers! Ganondorf whips her the other way, into more barriers! The ring count is past 5 but Ganondorf refreshes it before he goes back to Midna. Ganondorf whips Midna but she reverses now. Ganondorf stops himself from running into barriers, but turns around into Midna’s SPEAR! They go through barriers!! Fans lose their minds while Sahasrahla hurries to check on Ganondorf and Midna! Midna rises first, staggers over to the ring and gets in while Sahasrahla still checks on Ganondorf. He’s okay so Sahasrahla goes back to the ring and starts a count.
Ganondorf slowly sits up, and uses a barrier to drag himself up at 4. He hobbles over to the ring at 6, Midna PLANCHAS out! Direct hit and Ganondorf goes down! Fans fire up, Midna puts Ganondorf in and covers, TWO! Midna stomps Ganondorf at the ropes, springboard stomps him, then drags him to a drop zone. Midna goes to the corner, climbs up, but Ganondorf anchors a foot! She kicks until he lets go, goes to the top rope, and MOONSAULTS! Direct hit again! Cover, TWO! Midna watches Ganondorf as he sits up, and runs in for TWILIGHT SLE- NO! Ganondorf blocks the rolling cutter to a dragon sleeper! Ganondorf inverted suplexes Midna to a fireman’s carry, and hits a TKO! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally up but Ganondorf glares at Midna as she sits up in a daze. Ganondorf drags her up, reels her in, lifts, but she throws hands to avoid the bomb! Midna huricanranas Ganondorf out of the ring! Midna hurries over, PLANCHAS, but Ganondorf moves! She lands on her feet, but Ganondorf kicks low and double underhooks! Midna RAMS Ganondorf into the apron! Midna ROCKS Ganondorf with a forearm! The ring count climbs, Midna gets in at 3 and runs, to WRECK Ganondorf with a dropkick! Ganondorf is sent into railing! Midna goes out and CHOPS Ganondorf against the railing, puts Ganondorf in, then runs, to SPEAR! Cover, TWO!
Midna drags Ganondorf up, wrenches, reels him in, but Ganondorf wrenches back! Ganondorf kicks the arm! Midna clutches the elbow, Ganondorf waistlocks and GERMAN SUPLEXES! Ganondorf holds on, drags Midna back up, and GERMAN SUPLEXES again! Bridging cover, TWO! Ganondorf drags Midna up, reels her in, lifts, and GANON BOMBS!! Midna reaches for ropes as Ganondorf covers, TWO!?!? Midna barely gets a shoulder up, it was more like 2.9! Ganondorf drags Midna up, double underhooks again, and lifts for a FACEBUSTER!! Cover, Ganondorf wins!!
Winner: Ganondorf, by pinfall (advances to the second round)
The Gerudo Ace still has a path back to the Triforce of Power! Will that new move he used to finish the Twilight Princess be the trump card that helps him take the Bracket of Power for the second time?
How’s your bracket? Did it get busted right here? Did anyone make a bracket? It’s fine if you didn’t, there’s no prize for predicting things. But I do wonder if the results were obvious or not. Ganondorf was going to get past the first round, it’s just a shame the shuffle did work out that way. But Midna and Nabooru can both fall back to the Goddess Championship as we continue through the year.
Bandwagon Nerds #69: The 90’s Project pt. 5: Action Movies
Explosions! Car chases! Thrills! Action/Adventure Films take over the Bandwagon in this week’s edition of the 90s project. Christopher Platt makes his triumphant return to the Bandwagon as the Nerds discuss the season(series?) finale. Was it all the fellas could have hoped for, or did the show fall short of expectations? And, what does it mean for the next Phases of the MCU? Plus, the Nerds give their recommendations of the best new streaming content to watch from this weekend.
About Bandwagon Nerds
Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, and a rotating cast of guests as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!
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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The Nerds are back to a more normal format for this review! German Judge Patrcik O’Dowd returns to help Dave and guest reviewer Rey Cash on Kong: Skull Island (2017)!
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick and, making his Nerd review debut, Rey Cash review 2017’s Kong: Skull Island!!
The Flick: Kong: Skull Island
What’s it About: A team of researchers receive a grant from the government in the wake of the Vietnam war to explore a mysterious island discovered in the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival to Skull Island, the team finds a lush paradise teeming with life…and a dangerous secret.
Metacritic Score: 62
The Nerds’ Take on Kong: Skull Island (2017):
Patrick: Oh my, it is good to be back! I hope you all missed me as much as I missed writing these reviews. Last week, Dave kicked off our Kaiju run to Godzilla vs. Kong with his review of 2014’s Godzilla. This week, we tackle the other half of the Kaiju showdown with a review of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. I gotta say, I picked the right movie for my triumphant return.
The first rule of any good Kaiju movie is that the human characters are completely secondary to the film itself. The movie is all about the monsters. Forty-Five minutes into the film, Kong: Skull Island completely embraces this philosophy. The story follows a familiar arc to those familiar with the character. In this iteration, a pair of “geologists” convince a senator to fund a research expedition to an uncharted island in the Pacific. The pair secure their funding, a military escort, and hire a retired SAS agent to act as a guide. Along the way, the group is joined by a photographer and a second research team. Of course, upon the group’s arrival to the island it is revealed that the geologists are monster hunters who have been looking for proof that giant creatures exist. And boy, do they ever. As the team sets off seismic charges (explosives) disrupting the life on the island, Kong emerges and wipes out most of the team. However, nothing is what it appears and as the survivors delve deeper into the island, they learn the truth behind Kong and Skull Island.
I am sure Dave will give a much more detailed plot description, so I’m just going to dive into the good. Monster fights. Loads and loads of monster fights. Once we get past the ho-hum exposition of who the human characters are and get to the island, we get scene after scene of Kaiju attacking, roaring and dominating our senses. The special effects are terrific, especially the work done to bring Kong to life. He’ terrifying and for a CGI character really carries a commanding presence. And then there are the monster battles. Again, the special effects team really outdid themselves. The climactic battle between Kong and the largest of the Skull Crawlers is truly epic in scope and feel. My only regret is that I didn’t catch this movie on an IMAX screen. I imagine the experience would have been even more magnificent than it was on my tiny television.
The cast is loaded with talent. Tom Hiddleston plays Conrad, the former SAS operative hired as a guide for the team. He’s clearly cinched in as the human protagonist and the rational member of the group. Brie Larson plays an antiwar photographer Mason Weaver, in a role that can best be described as minimal. She’s a part of the team, but outside being a sounding board for Conrad and the maiden to be rescued by Kong, she doesn’t do much else. Samuel L. Jackson is cast as Colonel Preston Packard, the commanding officer of the US Military escort driven mad with a desire to stop at nothing to kill Kong. A tropey character type for sure, but necessary. For me though the performance of the film comes from John C. Reilly. Reilly plays Marlow, a soldier who crash landed on the island during the 1940s, yet managed to survive by endearing himself to indigenous people on the island. He provides the audience with much needed plot points regarding the island and, more importantly, the creatures therein. Reilly’s Marlow is quirky, but not too funny, and very relatable as a man who just wants to go back home and have a hot dog.
I really, really enjoyed this iteration of the Kong Story. As is typical for the character, Kong is the hero of the tail whereas man is the threat. This idea is even more pronounced in this film as it is the expedition team’s destruction of the island prompts Kong’s hostilities. While the human characters are the audience’s anchor to the story, Kong is the star. This film was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Totally worth the two hour run time to watch.
Patrick’s Rating: 4.29/5.0
Dave After my somewhat tepid review of Godzilla last week, I went into this week’s assignment with somewhat low expectations. I had never seen Kong: Skull Island before and had heard mixed things about it. After watching it though, I can say this: It is a monstrous improvement over Godzilla (pun intended) and sets the stage for Legendary’s MonsterVerse much more effectively than Godzilla did.
Usually, I save a discussion of the cast for the end of these reviews. But for Kong: Skull Island, you almost have to address it at the beginning as it is the cast, and the chemistry they have, that sets this movie apart from Godzilla. There is a simple reason for that: We end up with a mini-MCU reunion here. Samuel L. Jackson plays Col. Packard, Tom Hiddleston plays James Conrad, and Brie Larson plays Mason Weaver. So, right off the bat, you have actors very familiar with each other (especially Jackson and Hiddleston from their portrayals as Nick Fury and Loki) and you can see how this familiarity translates into some exceptional performances that, to a certain extent, Godzilla lacked. Add in John Goodman and John C. Reilly and there was star power aplenty for this movie.
The premise of the movie is familiar to anyone who has been a King Kong fan at any point in their life. Bill Randa (Goodman) a high-ranking official with Monarch Corporation, with a lot of help from geologist Houston Brooks, convinces a US Senator (played by Richard Jenkins) to help fund an expedition to a strange island in the South Pacific, known as Skull Island. It is surrounded by a perpetual storm system, which has allowed it to elude discovery…. until now. Meanwhile, the Vietnam War is ending and Col. Packard is looking for one last assignment. He is asked to be the Military detail on Randa’s expedition to Skull Island. Conrad is hired on an as an expert tracker while Weaver comes aboard as a photographer. Once the group reaches Skull Island, they drop seismic charges to map out the island. This pisses off Kong, a 100-foot-tall ape (roughly 50 feet taller than he has been portrayed previously), who has his way with the helicopters and kills at least half of the men on those helicopters.
The survivors are spread across the island. Packard leads a group to try to get to the crash site of one of the helicopters that has weapons on board that he feels can kill Kong. Conrad and Weaver lead a different group and they stumble across the remnants of a civilization of indigenous people. Among them is Hank Marlow (Reilly). Marlow crashed on the island with a Japanese pilot named Gunpei at the very beginning of the movie and they encountered Kong. The two men were then stranded on the island for some 28 years, ever since the end of World War II. Without a war to fight, the two men become closer than brothers and are befriended by the people of Skull Island. Gunpei eventually dies leaving Marlow to only hope and pray for an eventual return to civilization. It is here that the usual Kong lore gets tilted quite a bit. Marlow explains that Kong is a god to the people and actually protects them from a subterranean race of reptilian creatures that he calls Skullcrawlers. Many of these Skullcrawlers killed off all of Kong’s species, save for him, and the natives believe that if Kong dies, an enormously large Skullcrawler that Marlow calls “The Big One” will emerge and threaten the entire planet.
This leads to some significant conflict between Packard, Conrad, Marlow, and Weaver. Packard is hell bent on killing Kong and, after the survivors are reunited, he tells them they have to go and find Chapman, one of his missing men. Chapman, meanwhile, has been devoured by a Skullcrawler. Packard leads the group into a mass grave where the skeletons of Kong’s species are located. Naturally, a pack of Skullcrawlers emerge and lay waste to much of the group. Packard remains undeterred to kill Kong but once the rest of the group learn his real intentions, they are not willing to follow. The groups split up again and Packard’s group is able to render Kong unconscious. But Conrad is able to intervene before Packard detonates explosives that will kill Kong. Unfortunately, all the activity attracts the attention of The Big One and this leads to a titanic showdown between Kong and The Big One. Based on the upcoming sequel, it is obvious who wins…. but it’s still a damn good throw down.
This movie does a lot of things right. It is fun, fast-paced, and does a great job of introducing just enough cool creatures to give Kong a good challenge without over whelming you with too many creatures. There are several characters you really care about and Jackson does a great job of making you genuinely dislike Packard, who gradually comes unhinged as the movie goes along. What I absolutely loved about the movie were the subtle tweaks it made to Kong lore. It took several well-established elements and gave them just enough of a fresh coat of paint to make the movie really stand out. This is most notable in two places. Weaver is the person who connects with Kong the most. But even though she is a female, her connection with Kong is not on the romantic or quasi-sexual nature that it was portrayed in the 1933 original, the 1976 remake, or even the 2005 reboot (a prime example of monster/creature over saturation). It is a subtle connection and it is done very well. Then there is Kong himself. In the 1933, 1976, and 2005 movies, Kong is always the misunderstood creature who dies in the end to protect the woman he loves. It is always heartbreaking, especially in 1976 and 2005. Here though, Legendary gave us what many of us wanted: Kong as the hero who survives and, obviously, lives to fight another day. I have always been a huge fan of the 1976 movie. Kong: Skull Island was almost as good.
It is, of course, not perfect. The Skullcrawlers were cool creatures, and a big step up from the MUTOs in Godzilla. But they are still not quite the perfect antagonist. Perhaps that was intentional as man has always been Kong’s most dangerous opponent. Still, something was missing from there a bit. There is some obvious romantic/sexual tension between Conrad and Weaver that never plays out that could have added an element to the story. And, similar to Bryan Cranston in Godzilla, John Goodman did not last nearly long enough. But these are really minor complaints. Kong: Skull Island is a very good movie and the true starting point for the MonsterVerse. Make sure you check out the post-credit scene that really sets the stage for Godzilla: King of the Monsters and introduces the concept that the planet has never been ours….and the monsters are about to retake it. More on that next week. As for Kong: Skull Island, this is how a reboot should be done and I highly recommend you check it out.
Dave’s Rating: 4.25/5
Rey’s Take: As a younger guy, I’m not well versed on the history of King Kong movies. I mean, I get it. Big monkey in the wild scares small white people, and big monkey falls in love with cute white woman, then big monkey gets killed or captured trying to save white woman. The story is very easy to digest and understand. And that very reason is why I loved Kong: Skull Island. It takes that ideal, the big monkey in the wild having an unnatural relationship with a white woman, but it flips it. In this story, Kong is the good guy! Kong is actually the hero!
Not only is Kong the hero, but there are actually 3 antagonists! First off, there’s John Goodman’s government lackey Bill Randa. Randa was so obsessed with finding Kong and the mysterious Skull Island, so much so that he knowingly put his people and the troops set to escort him in danger. We’ve seen a number of movies where man meddling with science comes back to bite them, and this is no different. Randa’s exuberance soon becomes his demise, as nobody was prepared for what they were dealing with.
Secondly, we have the monster antagonists of the movie – the Skullcrawlers. As is such in a kaiju/monster movie, the beauty is in the destruction. And oh, what glorious destruction there is between Kong and a number of giant reptilian monsters. This fight is what leads us to find John C. Reilly’s fantastic character, Air Force Lieutenant Hank Marlow, who was stuck on Skull Island since 1944. He’s the person that lets us know, along with the quiet and workmanlike Iwi tribe, that Kong is actually their protector and is the latest in a line of Titans that used to rule the Earth. Important foreshadowing for a certain mega movie coming out soon, wink wink.
Finally, we have the best character in the whole movie. Samuel L. Jackson’s Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard is a ball as the angry army lifer who isn’t ready to give up the life and is willing to die for his cause. His beef with Kong isn’t even rooted in logic. He just wants to kill something. He just wants to continue to feel like a soldier. He essentially just wants to do his job. And the dichotomy his brigade has between following their leader and realizing what’s actually happening in front of them is just damn good movie viewing.
Most monster movies don’t have much heart. Ultimately, they’re big blow up movies when it comes down to it. This movie, however, has heart in spades. Each character has defined character motivations. Kong goes from being the destructive villain that must be vanquished to becoming the misunderstood hero who actually does the vanquishing. Not often that you get that much out of a movie about a big monkey.
Rey’s Rating: 4.5/5
Overall Nerds’ Kong: Skull Island (2017) Rating: 4.35/5.0
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