Film / Kong: Skull Island

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kongskullislandposter2.jpg

"This planet doesn't belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist."
Randa

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 movie by Legendary Pictures, written by Max Borenstein (who also wrote for Godzilla), and acting as an origin story to the Eighth Wonder of the World himself, King Kong, as well as his homeland, Skull Island. The movie is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Shea Whigham and Toby Kebbell.

Initially a co-production with Universal (who own the rights to the King Kong character), the film is now being co-produced by Warner Bros. and is part of the MonsterVerse, a Kaiju-based Shared Universe with Legendary's Godzilla (with that film's Monarch organization serving as the link), with the two being set to meet in Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.

A comic tie-in, Skull Island: The Birth of Kong has also been released. Set in the present day, it recalls a 1995 mission to Skull Island by MONARCH agents headed by Brooks and Lin's son, Aaron, to uncover the secrets of Kong's past.

Previews: Official Trailer, Trailer 2, Trailer 3.

Characterization tropes for Humans and Kaijus go on the Characters Sheet.


Skull Island contains examples of these tropes:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: Lampshaded - during the helicopter battle against Kong, a soldier screams at his comrade thusly;
    Soldier: RUN TO THE SIDE, YOU IDIOT!
  • Acrophobic Bird: Par for the course in a King Kong film, the helicopters spend most of the fight within Kong's melee range. He is pretty good at knocking them out of the sky by throwing trees at them, too, but they really make it easy for him.
  • Actionized Sequel: Rather, Actionized Prequel. To Godzilla (2014), which had long scenes without any action or monster fighting. The final trailer shows not only Kong fighting the Skullcrawlers, but the humans getting in on the action as well. Kong also shows up two minutes in instead of waiting half-way through the movie.
  • Adaptational Badass: While Kong has always been a badass, he was killed by biplanes in the original movie. In this one? He's not only freaking gigantic (currently about a third of the size of the Legendary Godzilla, who he's intended to fight in a sequel and there are indications that by the time it happens, there will be a significant decrease in the gap between their heights as Kong is still not yet fully grown), but defeats a dozen gunship helicopters in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The natives of Skull Island were antagonists out of desperation in the original 1933 film and horrifically degenerate troglodytes in the 2005 remake. In this movie, they are a very territorial and taciturn but ultimately friendly and helpful people.
    • King Kong himself, already an Anti-Villain or Anti-Hero in many of the previous portrayals, is presented in an almost completely heroic light here.
  • Advertised Extra: In China, San Lin was given her own character poster, even though her role in the film is pretty minor. The reason for this has to do with the fact that her actress is from mainland China, where local stars are given tremendous amounts of publicity regardless of their actual role. However, San Lin has a fairly larger role in the novelization, where she get involved in a incident with a sacred Iwi well, and helps defeat a Mire Squid that attacks Slivko.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization provides more character development and insight into them, as well as additional backstories for characters such as James Conrad, Mason Weaver, Bill Randa, San Lin, and Glenn Mills.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Chapman encounters a stick-bug like creature, which rears up as if to attack him. Chapman unloads a spray of gunfire into its face, and it turns and retreats, seemingly cowed by its injuries. Then Chapman turns around, and promptly gets eaten by a Skullcrawler.
  • Animal Nemesis: Col. Packard goes full Captain Ahab, with his grudge against Kong growing as more and more of his men die on Skull Island.
  • Anyone Can Die: Packard and Randa both die before the third act. Of special note is Chapman, who the film presents as someone who's eventually going to reunite with the group. Sadly for him, the Skullcrawler doesn't think so.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Dear Billy...", in reference to the letters that one of the Sky Devils, Chapman, is writing to his young son back home. The theme of fathers getting killed/missing in action pops up throughout the film: Conrad lost his father to World War II, Marlow has a son he's never gotten to meet, and Chapman is eventually killed. Even Kong himself lost his parents to the feud between giant apes and skullcrawlers.
    • The word "King" is used regularly to describe who is the apex predator of the island: Kong, the humans or the Skullcrawlers. The post-credits scene shows that MONARCH is well aware that Kong isn't the only "king" and show pictures taken of other "kings" including Godzilla (the King of the Monsters) and King Ghidorah.
  • An Arm and a Leg: This is how Nieves dies - getting torn apart by the pterosaur-like flyers mentioned above. We see him silhouetted against the sun while he struggles against the beasts until one of them rips off his arm and the scene cuts away.
  • Artistic License – Military
    • Packard's unit is called an assault helicopter battalion, which in 1973 should consist mostly of AH-1 Cobra gunships and OH-6 Loach scout choppers. Instead, it is made up almost entirely of UH-1 Hueys, only a few of which are in gunship configuration. Once downed, the surviving pilots and door gunners simply operate as infantry and are even geared up accordingly. In a real life Vietnam-era Air Cavalry battalion, the helicopter crews were just that, with the infantry they carried (who couldn't fly the choppers) to and from battle being a seperate formation (at least company-size) within the same battalion. For a better representation of the real thing, see We Were Soldiers.
    • Marlow says he was in the 15th Air Force and wears its Shoulder-Sleeve Insignia. The 15th operated in Italy during WWII. The 13th Air Force would be correct for the Southwest Pacific.
    • Marlow says the boat was built from salvaged parts of his P-51 Mustang, Gunpei's A6M Zero, and a B-29 Superfortress. However, the .50 BMG machine guns are mounted in a ball turret, which was only used on the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator.
    • Marlow's P-51 has invasion stripes painted on the wings and fuselage. These were only applied to Allied aircraft used in Western Europe during and after the Normandy Landings. In the Pacific, his aircraft would not have these.
  • Ascended Extra: The two legged lizard from the 1933 film appears to be the basis of the "Skullcrawler" monster antagonists.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: While the soundtrack is filled to the brim with 70s rock, one blatant example of the trope is the deployment of the seismic charges as Black Sabbath plays.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: After his mission gets greenlighted we see Bill fetching James Conrad from a night club and Packard getting his call to join up with his men as well.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: How Marlow apparently came up with the name "Skullcrawlers" for the lizard-like monsters on the island.
    Marlow: I call them Skullcrawlers.
    Conrad: Why?
    Marlow: 'Cause it sounds neat.
    Conrad: ...Okay.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: In the opening scene, Marlow catches Gunpei's shin-guntō with his hands. His hands get bloody and he screams in pain, but he manages to pull the sword out of Gunpei's hands.
  • Beast and Beauty: Averted. There are subtle hints to the Beauty and the Beast story during the scenes with Kong and Weaver but neither of them falls in love with the other.
  • Behemoth Battle: Kong fights the Skullcrawlers, as well as a giant Mire Squid.
  • Berserk Button: Harming the more docile creatures of Skull Island, as well as doing anything destructive to the island itself, is a great way to royally piss Kong off.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Ramarak, the alpha Skullcrawler, and Col. Packard, who develops an insane obsession with killing Kong to the point of endangering his men.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Packard and his men encounter an enormous spider-like creature, and Chapman accidentally awakens a beast that resembles a humongous stick bug. Marlow also makes reference to tree-dwelling ants that act and sound like birds, but none actually appear in the film.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kong literally jumps in, giant boulder in hand, to save the humans from Ramarak during the climax. Brooks and San return the favor shortly afterwards, courtesy of riding in on Marlow's boat and distracting Ramarak from a pinned Kong by shooting at the former with the ship's mounted gun.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kong defeats Ramarak, and Conrad and the others manage to escape the island unharmed. However, most of the expedition team, including Randa, Packard, both Landsat scientists and all but three of the soldiers are dead. And while Marlow is safely reunited with his family, Conrad and Weaver are recruited by Monarch, with Brooks and San reminding them that the worst is yet to come...
  • Black Blood: Briefly seen by the Mire Squid Kong fights in the lake; there's a burst of black liquid when Kong crushes its head. Possibly a cloud of ink in an attempt to escape, instead of blood.
  • Blipvert: The fast-changing footage in the opening credits.
  • Bloody Handprint: Kong left one on the side of a mountain.
  • Body Motifs: There's a lot of focus on eyes.
  • Breaking the Bonds: Kong finally manages to breaks the chains that held him back during the climactic fight.
  • Bullying a Dragon: This is pretty much Packard's modus operandi with anyone and anything. Granted, the first time no one was aware of Kong so his rampage was justified, but even after learning the ape is pretty benevolent when not bothered, he apparently doesn't give a damn.
  • The Cameo:
    • Godzilla is alluded to as the monster that Monarch tried to nuke in 1954. At the end of the post-credits scene, his famous roar can be hear.
    • Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah are alluded to in the post-credits scene.
    • Miyavi plays the Imperial Japanese pilot Gunpei Ikari stranded with Marlow in the prologue.
  • Catchphrase Interruptus: A meta example. Kong squashes Packard before he can say "motherfucker".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The RAF lighter Conrad inherited from his dad and lends to Weaver. During the fight in the graveyard, Weaver uses it like an improvised grenade to set fire to one of the Skullcrawlers with the latent flammable gas in the air, burning it alive. However, in the novelization, Conrad uses it instead.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: When the group hides from the Skullcrawlers at the Kong family graveyard, it plays out just like that.
  • The Conspiracy: Weaver wants to join the expedition because, after hearing three different sources say the same thing word for word, she suspects the mission of having an ulterior motive, namely a secret military operation. During the briefing scene, Conrad questions the true nature of the mission when it's revealed that seismic charges will be used to map Skull Island's surface. After which, he sees the weapons being equipped onto the choppers, and checks out the crates containing the explosives, where he and Weaver meet.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Randa discusses and shows film of the 1954 attempts to nuke Godzilla in one scene.
    • Just like the previous installment, small arms fire only serves to distract Kaiju and do absolutely nothing to harm them.
  • Continuity Reboot: The movie ignores all previous King Kong films in favor of re-establishing the character within Legendary Pictures' Monsterverse.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Conrad is in just the right place at the right time to see the Skullcrawler that killed Chapman regurgitate his skull and dogtags.
  • Convenient Cranny: One of the characters successfully evades a Skullcrawler attack by rushing inside a Ribcage Ridge at the Kong family graveyard where he can't be reached.
  • The Croc Is Ticking: At one point a Skullcrawler swallows a flash camera, which continues to go off inside its stomach. It runs off into the fog, but the other characters can tell it's still circling them by the repeated flashes in the distance.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • Bill Randa and Houston Brooks mention they've been called tinfoil-hat wearing loonies before for believing in the existence of monsters and the Hollow Earth theory.
    • Hank Marlow has gone a bit bonkers after 28 years on the Island, yet his knowledge of its fauna and survival skills are impeccable.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In his first encounter with non-native humans, Kong completely tears apart a dozen helicopters and only takes some damage to his arm and hand.
    • Really, most of Kong's fights with everyone except Ramarak are this. He's not called the King of Skull Island for nothing.
  • Curse Cut Short: Col. Packard's last words are, "Die you motherf-" until Kong smashes him into the ground.
  • Deadly Dodging: At one point when two helicopters attack him from each direction, Kong leaps out of the way, causing them to shoot each other down.
  • Deadly Gas: A cloud of green toxic gas is unleashed during the fight scene in the Boneyard.
  • Death World: Skull Island. It's explicitly stated if it were not for Kong protecting them, the humans living on the island would be massacred (as they were before his kind arrived).
  • Denser and Wackier: Even though the movie has no shortage of scary or violent moments, it includes massive Large Ham actors, tongue-in-cheek subversions of familiar tropes, Tarantinoesque dialogue and many completely gonzo action scenes, including Tom Hiddleston slashing mini-pterodactyls with a shin-guntō sword while wearing a gas mask.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The movie tries to subvert this by setting a record for how quickly we first see Kong (less than five minutes) in the prologue, and then rushing through the set-up of the main story to get back to Kong wreaking havoc. It ends up with the alternative, where most of the characters are barely known before the monster starts killing them.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Marlow was shot down prior to his son's birth, so they never got to meet before being rescued 28 years later.
    • Conrad's father's plane went down in WWII and he was never found after months of searching.
  • Dramatic Drop: In the epilogue, Marlow's wife drops a tray with glasses when she notices him at the door.
  • Draw Aggro: The humans manage to distract Ramarak from finishing Kong off.
  • Dwindling Party: By the end of the first act, most of the original expedition has already been killed. And the rest continually die until the end of the movie, with only about eight leaving the island alive.
  • Eaten Alive: Pretty much any time a Skullcrawler makes an appearance. Randa and Chapman both suffer this fate, from the same Skullcrawler no less. An unlucky soldier is also heavily implied to have dropped into Kong's gaping maw when the latter disassembles one of the helicopters. Slightly subverted with Weaver, who was unconscious whilst clenched within Kong’s fist, which was yanked down Ramarak’s throat by the tongue. Kong yanked his hand holding her out of Ramarak's throat though, so she survived an otherwise squicky fate.
  • Eldritch Location: Skull Island is a very unusual place to say the least; for starters, it's an Isle of Giant Horrors surrounded by a massive Perpetual Storm that opens up into the Hollow Earth. Somehow, it also has auroras, suggesting a magnetic anomaly in the region (similar to the 2005 film), and its mentioned that some of the natives of the island don't seem to age. It's also inhabited by all sorts of weird creatures; there are hybrid animals, plant-creatures, predators that eat each other, predators that eat themselves, gigantic arthropods, and of course a certain one-hundred foot tall gorilla which not even the natives are sure where he came from.
  • Elephants' Graveyard: An important fight scene takes place in a graveyard of giant monster bones (most notably, Kong's parents) smothered in a yellow-colored Ominous Fog.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: After they get downed by Kong, some of the characters discuss what they should do now, and one of the soldiers exclaims how they're not talking about what just happened to them.
    • Later in the movie Nieves is plucked up and ripped to pieces in midair by a flock of Leafwings in an abrupt Mood Whiplash, and Brooks asks if everyone's just going to pretend that that didn't just happen, to which Marlow replies, he's dead, so there's nothing to linger on.
  • Epic Flail: During his fight against the alpha Skullcrawler, Kong improvises a ball-and-chain flail with a ship propeller attached to a chain.
  • Eureka Moment: While trying to escape from the wrecked ship Ramarak knocked him into, Kong notices the ship propeller and the chain it's gotten tangled in. He promptly uses it to gain the upper-hand on Ramarak and weaken him enough to finish him off.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Played mostly straight. Why that is actually inaccurate is discussed under Artistic License – Military above. There are two exceptions, with one (the CH-53 Sea Stallion) being a plot point.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Skull Island is a Lost World where non-avian dinosaurs survived the K-T Extinction and continued to thrive alongside other prehistoric creatures. However, no dinosaurs themselves appear, outside of an oversized Triceratops skull.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: King Kong is a member of a species of gigantic gorilla-like apes.
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: A monstrous Kraken-like creature is among the many oversized species inhabiting Skull Island. Chapman probably would've been eaten by it, had Kong not shown up and chased him out of the water.
  • Eye Awaken: After the giant Skullcrawler appears and all the humans except Packard run away, the unconscious Kong opens his eyes.
  • Eye Scream: The Alpha Skullcrawler takes a flare to its right eye which promptly explodes and maims the creature, courtesy of Weaver.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Several characters often mention that they have families back home and are eager to go back to them. This includes Mills, Chapman, and Marlow. Notably, Chapman has a note he's writing to his son Billy back home, which becomes a Running Gag for other soldiers to say "Dear Billy" whenever they encounter something strange on the island. He's also the only one who doesn't make it back.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Marlow and Gunpei. They put aside their differences upon seeing Kong and became friends, working together to escape the island until Gunpei's death.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Doubles as Interface Spoiler, but the film's closing credits spoil The Stinger by crediting Toho as the owners of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: One of the soldiers uses a flamethrower against the Skullcrawlers during the fight in the graveyard. This works until he gets slammed back into one of the skeletons and his tank ruptures and he goes up in flames.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: The post-credits scene, in which the voice of Conrad appears to berate the audience for sitting in the dark after the credits are finished. It's then revealed that he and Weaver are in an interrogation room together, and he was addressing whomever is keeping them in there (which, it turns out, are Brooks and San, who brief them on the other monsters Monarch has been researching).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the opening credits, part of a document written by Harry S. Truman appears for a split-second, where he gives his support to Monarch in the use of nuclear weapons to eliminate a monstrous creature roaming the Pacific Ocean.
    • There is also a brief shot of a younger Randa's notes on Skull Island.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: In the Behemoth Battle between Kong and the Alpha Skullcrawler, Kong would be the favorite but he is weakened by the burnings he received earlier which bring the two to eye level.
  • Gatling Good: The camera actually focuses on a dismounted M134 Minigun for a couple seconds during a hangar scene early in the movie, foreshadowing what several helis will carry into battle later on. Contrary to how previous films handled the confrontation between Kong and this type of weapon, they don't do squat against him here, though.
  • Genius Bruiser: Kong's use of trees, rocks, and a ship propeller against the Skullcrawlers, particularly the Alpha as improvised weapons, combined with his immense size and strength, make him this.
  • Genre Throwback: Vietnam War films. Crossed with monster ones, of course.
  • Giant Spider: One of the scenes has Packard's group being attacked by one spider-like creature with legs long enough to blend in with the trees walking right over the characters.
  • Gilligan Cut: Nieves' adamant refusal to board a helicopter bearing for the island is followed by him sighing in defeat as he reluctantly does just that in the very next scene.
  • Give Me a Sword: During the group's first battle against the Skullcrawlers, Conrad asks Marlow to toss him his shin-guntō. Marlow obliges and Conrad puts it to good use.
  • Glowing Eyes: Kong has these when he steps out of the fog toward Conrad and Weaver, and his eyes glow again as he goes back into the fog after his moment with them.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Randa wants to draw out Kong by going into his habitat and dropping bombs. They draw him out, alright.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • A soldier falls from a helicopter Kong grabbed, into the giant ape's open mouth...and then, Smash Cut to a character crunching down on a sandwich. Not a stretch to imagine what happened to the guy.
    • Chapman's death, of the "cut to blood splatter" variety.
    • Subverted when Kong seemingly defeats Ramarak. He slices its neck with a ship propellor, and the framing makes it seem as though the lizard's neck was cut open, but Ramarak turns out to be Not Quite Dead and the wound revealed to be shallow.
  • Greek Fire: The napalm trap Packard makes to kill Kong.
  • Helicopter Blender: Played with.
    • The soldier hurled at Conrad and Weaver's helicopter after his was destroyed by Kong was swept not into the rotor blades (which are pushing air downward), but rather into the intake of the turbine engine, which both turns him into fine red mist—though there is no actual gore to be seen—and destroys the engine, causing the chopper to crash.
    • Kong reveals that he's got numerous slices on his right palm from where he grabbed a helicopter's tail-rotor.
  • Helicopter Flyswatter: Several helicopters fall prey to King Kong.
  • Hellish Copter: If you've read this page from the top, you'll have realized by now that the helicopters featured in this movie are among the most dangerous places to be for the characters; arguably even more so than Skull Island proper. That all of them make it through the storm unscathed while en route to the island probably had exactly one reason: to leave more flying things with rotors for Kong to maim in spectacular fashion.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Marlow's Fire-Forged Friend Gunpei Ikari wielded a shin-guntō. Marlow inherited it as a Tragic Keepsake after Ikari died and uses it on the island to great effect, and at one point Conrad borrows it and gets in on the action.
  • Hollow World: Skull Island turns out to be located on a rip in the Earth that allows giant monsters to emerge. They may not be implying the whole planet is hollow, only that there is enough space underground for a whole ecosystem of ancient monsters to survive in.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: According to Word of God, the film explores the theme of mankind trying to dominate the natural world instead of coexisting and working with it. Skull Island begins in relative peace until the expedition comes along with their weapons disturbing everything, and throwing everything into turmoil in a way that threatens not only the island but the whole world. In the end, the alpha Skullcrawler is only defeated through the combined efforts of the humans and Kong, a force of nature. This trope can also be applied to the antagonism between Kong and Packard. Given how the humans are introduced to Kong, it would be easy to label him an evil monster. However, after learning Kong's backstory, why he attacked them, and following Packard's descent into madness, it becomes clear that Packard is the real monster between the two, especially since he's the one who brought the war to Kong's doorstep when the latter was minding his own business and did nothing to warrant it.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Senator Willis compares Monarch's search for monsters to the equally abortive search for UFO's, Randa protests that those people are just nuts.
    • Randa chides a soldier for lighting a cigarette in an area with highly flammable volcanic fumes, while Randa himself continues to use a camera with a visible, sparking flash.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One soldier is stabbed through the MOUTH by a giant spider's leg.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: A flare gun is not an actual weapon, and it's most definitely not a precision tool. Weaver is an anti-war photographer and therefore unlikely to have any weapons training whatsoever. Combine the two of them and you get a precision shot into the raging Alpha Skullcrawler's tiny eye over a distance of several hundred yards. Even Hawkeye would be impressed.
    • Kong himself ain't too shabby either. He first makes his presence known to the military helicopters with an entire palm tree that lands directly in the cockpit of one, and he apparently threw it while he was far away enough that they hadn't even noticed him yet.
    • Averted when Nieves is grabbed, they clearly want to shoot him free but can't hope to hit the relatively small, randomly moving targets without killing him in the process though this probably would have been preferable given what happened to him soon afterward.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Kong uses a rock as a weapon, turns trees into makeshift clubs or javelins, and even fights with a ship propeller on a chain.
    • Weaver is also a fan of these. She uses Conrad's lighter to set a Skullcrawler on fire, and later shoots Ramarak in the eye with a flare gun.
  • Insistent Terminology: Weaver wishes Conrad to know that she's an anti-war photographer, not a war photographer.
  • Interface Spoiler: The film's closing credits spoil The Stinger by crediting Toho as the owners of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.
  • Island of Mystery: Skull Island, of course.
  • Isle of Giant Horrors: The titular island. It's revealed that Skull Island is actually located on top of a rip in the Earth's crust where giant monsters (such as the reptilian "Skullcrawlers"), are able to emerge from Beneath the Earth.
  • It's Personal: After Kong wipes out most of his men, Packard makes it his mission to get revenge.
    Packard: Before we leave this island, we're going to bring that ape down.
  • Jawbreaker: Subverted. In the final battle, Kong attempts this against Ramarak, but he's not strong enough to do it and gives up.
  • Jump Scare: Weaver uses her camera to zoom in on some of the island's ruins - then the native that was hiding against the wall she's trying to take a picture of opens its eyes.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In this movie, a shin-guntō sword taken from an Imperial Japanese pilot is, most of the time, more effective against monsters than firearms are, despite the fact that the shin-guntō was a mediocre combat sword in real life. However, many shin-guntos were fitted with high quality blades to remedy this, often directly from the officer's family heirloom sword, so it's possible Gunpei did the same with his.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Packard never gets to finish his Pre-Mortem One-Liner before Kong turns him into paste.
  • Kill It with Fire: Exaggerated, with several giant monsters killed or severely injured by flamethrowers, exploding methane, burning gasoline, flare guns, napalm, lighters etc.
  • Kill the God: Packard seeks to kill Kong, who is revered as a god by the Iwi natives.
  • Last-Second Chance: Conrad offers Packard a last chance to leave with him but he denies and is subsequently smashed to pieces by Kong.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite the Post-Vietnam War setting, the film is much lighter (even humorous) and more adventurous than Godzilla (2014). That said, there are far more on-screen deaths in this film.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are about 13 characters in the group that journey to the island including the Monarch-Landsat science team of Randa, Brooks, San Lin, Nieves, Woodward, the military team of Packard, Chapman, Mills, Cole, Slivko, Reles, photographer Weaver, and escort Conrad plus Marlow who was already on the island.
  • Man on Fire: Near the end of the helicopter battle, one of Packard's men can be seen on fire. Later, Kong splashes burning water from Packard's napalm trap at a soldier, causing him to catch fire.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The reactions of the team when they see a hundred foot tall gorilla ready to attack them.
  • Meaningful Echo: A visual variant. Early on just before he starts destroying the helicopters, extra emphasis is given on Kong's fists clenching. As Packard ignites a lake filled with napalm in the climax to try and kill Kong, there's extra emphasis on his fists clenching, to illustrate that Kong isn't the monster anymore, he is.
  • Meaningful Look: At the end between Kong and Conrad/Weaver before the giant ape walks off back into the jungle.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: While quite a few male characters survive, the all-male military escort is all but wiped out by the end of the movie, while Weaver and San, the film's token female characters, both survive.
  • Mercy Kill: Averted. It seems like Conrad is going to do this for Nieves when he's being torn apart in midair, but he's apparently trying to aim for the killer flyers that have him and can't draw a bead on them. Either way, he doesn't fire his weapon.
  • Mexican Standoff: There is a standoff between Conrad and his team versus Packard and his men as they quarrel over Kong's unconscious body. The situation gets resolved when Slivko changes sides.
  • Mission Briefing: The team gets a briefing before going onto the island which also serves to info dump details to the audience.
  • Moe Greene Special: Weaver manages to score a shot at Ramarak by shooting it in the right eye with a Flare Gun.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens pretty often but the most jarring is everyone celebrating that they're getting near the pick up zone only for Nieves to suddenly get picked up by the flying reptiles and pulled apart. Reminding everyone they're still on a dangerous island.
  • More Dakka: The expedition brings a lot of automatic firepower with them, ranging from 5.56mm assault rifles to 7.62mm M60s to crew-served .50 cal machine guns to chopper-mounted miniguns. All it does is piss the giant monsters off. Only the salvaged bomber machine guns on Marlow's jury-rigged boat show any effect at all, and even that's limited to getting the target's attention instead of actually dealing damage.
  • Mythology Gag: The film is full of callbacks to previous Kong films.
    • Kong fights a giant squid in one scene.
      • Also, during the final battle, Kong grabs Ramarak by the tail and swings him around before throwing, just like he did to Godzilla.
    • Kong kills Packard the same way as Kong killed Col. Nevitt in King Kong Lives.
      • From the same movie, Kong is also heavily implied to eat one of the soldiers.
    • Kong is bipedal, much like he is in the Toho films and the 1976 remake.
    • Kong attempts to snap a Skullcrawler's jaws apart at one point in the climax, much like he did with the T-Rex in the original and the V-Rex in the 2005 remake.
      • In general, the final fight between Kong and the Alpha Skullcrawler appear to take some cues from King Kong (2005) fight between King Kong and the V-Rexes. Both fights have a very swampy setting with Kong holding and protecting the female protagonist from the enemy who is trying to eat her. Kong also happen to use a rock in both fights, but while it was fatal to a V-Rex in King Kong (2005); it only gave minimum damage to the Skullcrawler.
    • Kong is the last of his kind like he was portrayed in the 2005 film, with visible remains of his parents.
    • Kong flinging a tree at a chopper is similar to a scene in King Kong Escapes.
    • The freighter Wanderer, that apparently crashed ashore in 1933 shares a name with the ship from the 1933 Kong.
    • Kong resides in the skull-featured cave atop the tallest mountain on the island, just like in the original.
    • The infamous wall from previous adaptations appears, with a much more plausible reason this time.
    • In the climax, Kong becomes accidentally ensnared in chains, a reference to the numerous times he has been held captive the same way by humans.
    • A fight with machine-gun armed helicopters calls to mind the climax of Kong '76, even if the outcome here is drastically different.
    • More superficially, the film is set in the 70s like the 1976 remake.
    • This Kong shares his 2005 counterpart's love of natural beauty, as he sits enraptured by the Aurora Australis.
    • As always, Kong is a sucker for blondes. In this case, Weaver is a brunette with almost golden hair.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Hank Marlow calls the huge reptilian creatures lurking on the island "Skullcrawlers", and the classified Monarch reports designate them as "hypervores" in the viral marketing. Both seem to indicate how insatiable and vicious they are. Also lampshaded by Marlow.
    Marlow: Look, I just made that name up. I'm trying to scare you.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Not only did the seismic charges enrage Kong and cause him to attack the expedition crew, Marlow reveals it also awakened a lot of the Skullcrawlers, which otherwise only come to the surface every so often. The only reason the Air Cav troopers were even dropping them in the first place (as far as they knew, anyway) was to prove Brooks' Hollow World theory. This convinced Kong that they were a threat, and he responded accordingly.
    • One of the massive ox/yak/moose beasts that Kong defends gets injured and pinned under the wreckage of a Huey that Kong himself brought down, although Kong lifts it off him later.
  • No-Sell: The only human thing that deals any real damage to Kong and the other monsters are heli rotor blades and fire. Everything else, be it guns or toxic gas, just makes them angry. Well, angrier.
    • Averted with the giant spider, which is visibly hurt by the soldier's gunfire and eventually succumbs to its wounds.
  • Not Quite Dead: Thought dead the Alpha Skullcrawler comes back for a final attack during the climax when it attempts to swallow Mason whilst she's still clutched in Kong's hand. Then Kong kills it for good by ripping its organs out.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kong makes this face when he sees Weaver get knocked off a cliff during the battle with Ramarak.
    • Randa realises he's about to be eaten by the large Skullcrawler standing behind him.
  • Ominous Fog: The Boneyard with the remains of Kong's parents is covered in yellow-colored smoke. At night, as Conrad and Weaver look for Marlow's boat from atop a high cliff, a thick fog rolls in and they see Kong approach them with Glowing Eyes.
  • Origins Episode: Ultimately serves as one for Kong himself.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Packard is stopped from killing Kong, but his use of the seismic charges to lure Kong in awakens Ramarak.
  • Out of the Inferno: An epic moment when Kong emerges from the sea of napalm flames. However, he doesn't make it far before passing out due to the severe burns inflicted.
  • Perpetual Storm: One of these surrounds Skull Island, which is why it has remained uncharted for so long.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Marlow, describing one of the island's local species:
    Sounds like a bird but it's a fuckin' ant.
  • Prequel: This 2017 film occurs in the same world as Godzilla (2014), but is set in the '70s, whereas Godzilla was set in the present day.
    • May also double as an Interquel for Monarch's in-universe timeline of events in general, since they appear to have been formed in the 1950s in the flashbacks shown in Godzilla, while here they are a fully formed and practically autonomous organization that seems answerable to next to nobody.
  • Previews Pulse: Can be heard in this trailer.
  • Reality Ensues: Jack Chapman has the unfortunate luck of being the sole survivor of his helicopter crash after Kong attacked, and the area he's in also happened to be the most dangerous part of the island as revealed by Marlow later. Chances are his survival rate is going to be very low. He would have been devoured by the Mire Squid had Kong not been around as well, and while he did survive that by pure luck, his luck ran out when he encounters the Spore Mantis and a Skullcrawler, and he is ultimately eaten. There's simply no way he can navigate back to the rest of the survivors alone on an uncharted island full of monsters.
    • Twice a character is grabbed by island predators and lifted into the air, and despite clearly wanting to shoot them free the soldiers are unable to due to the difficulty of hitting the moving target while not inadvertently shooting the person they want to save. They find a way around the issue the first time, the second not so much.
  • Red Shirt Army:
    • A majority of the 'Military escort' that goes on the Expedition are mainly used as cannon fodder to give the Big Bad monsters something to attack and kill. A good portion of Soldiers die within minutes of arriving, while the survivors spend the remainder of the film being brutally massacred in some horrific manner by the Island's predatory creatures.
    • Likewise with the Landsat team, who at the most are minor comic relief characters whose only purpose is to be eating fodder.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: During the fight in the boneyard, Weaver tosses Conrad's lighter into the crater to ignite a gas pocket. Justified as it was the only source of fire she had available. In the novelization, Conrad uses his father's lighter instead of Weaver.
  • Ribcage Ridge: A major battle against the Skullcrawlers takes place amid the bones of Kong's family.
  • Running Gag: The soldiers saying "Dear Billy..." when coming across something unusual, which is taken from the letters that Chapman was planning to send to his son.
  • Scapegoat: Packard scapegoats Weaver and other photographers for America's withdrawal from Vietnam.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Near the end of the movie, Cole tries to blow himself up to slow the alpha Skullcrawler down to allow his friends to escape. The Skullcrawler instead tail-whips him into a cliff wall as the explosives detonated without harming the monster.
  • Serkis Folk: Much like the 2005 remake, Kong is portrayed via motion capture, specifically by Terry Notary (who previously did mocap work on many various movies, including the Planet of the Apes rebooted films) with some assistance from Toby Kebbell (who is also part of the human cast as the character Chapman).
  • Setting Update: From The '30s to The '70s — specifically, near the end of the Vietnam War. Strangely, this means King Kong has still only appeared in two time periods, the '30s and the '70s.
  • Shared Universe: With the Legendary Godzilla films, with the two being intended to crossover.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • The film is set during The Vietnam War and a number of the characters have PTSD. Particularly, after their encounter with the giant spider, Packard's men look incredibly shell-shocked when resting.
    • Lt Col. Packard is explicitly shown in the beginning to be a highly decorated veteran who feels that the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam without destroying the NVA has made everything he's been through and the men he's lost All for Nothing.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: As Weaver attempts a Kirk Summation on Col. Packard, he reacts, just after the first sentence, with a loud BITCH, PLEASE!
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't kill huge, violent animals that slaughter humans, because if you do then uglier and more violent animals might come out of nowhere and slaughter humans.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: This is the first American King Kong film where Kong does not die at the end. Given that Kong is slated to return in 2020's Godzilla vs Kong, it was pretty much a Foregone Conclusion that he survived this film.
  • Stealth Pun: An unusually dramatic example. Colonel Packard is a Shell-Shocked Veteran of the Vietnam War who's still dealing with the shame of being pulled out of the country before getting the chance to finish his battle with the NVA, and it gradually becomes clear that he sees his mission on Skull Island as a chance to make up for his failures in Vietnam. So in other words: he wants to defeat Kong because he never got a chance to defeat "The Cong".
  • Steel Ear Drums: None of the civilians and only a few soldiers wear any ear protection during the helicopter ride to Skull Island, and while flying with the cabin doors open no less. That's definitely not something that'll do wonders to your hearing in Real Life. Doing so while diving head-on into a Perpetual Storm makes it even dumber - most people have no true idea of how freaking loud thunderclaps are at their source.
  • The Stinger: Weaver and Conrad are in Monarch custody, and San and Brooks reveal to them cave paintings of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and the final cave painting shows Godzilla fighting King Ghidorah followed by Godzilla's roar that can be heard when the scene ends. This sets the stage for Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
  • Swallowed Whole: Every time the Skullcrawlers show up.
    • Implied with the luckless soldier falling into Kong's mouth during the helicopter battle.
  • Take That!: There's a direct reference to Prometheus's infamous outrun-the-wheel moment, recreated with two soldiers and King Kong, shot identically - and a soldier tells the other to "RUN TO THE SIDE, YOU IDIOT!", one of the criticisms of the film. When he keeps running straight, Kong promptly stomps on him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kong makes his existence known to the group because they come onto the island and start dropping bombs. Now you could make the argument that they didn't know they were dropping explosives in the domain of a one-hundred foot tall ape, but at least one member of the group did.
    • Even worse, at one point Randa is shown taking pictures with a camera that flashes, right in the middle of the most dangerous area on the island. Not surprisingly, he gets eaten almost immediately afterwards.
      • Specifically, he uses a flash that sparks visibly, mere seconds after one of the soldiers accidentally caused a gas explosion by dropping a lit cigarette into volcanic fumes. And was called an idiot by Randa for doing so.
  • Trampled Underfoot: A handful of characters get crushed, stepped on, or pounded into the ground by Kong and the other monsters on the island. Notably, this is Col. Packard's final fate, as he doesn't get to finish his Pre-Mortem One-Liner and detonate his explosives to kill Kong before Kong slams him with his fist.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Weaver and San are the only female members of the expedition. While not interacting with each other much, they also form a Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic—and ironically, girly-girl San carries and uses an M16A1, while tomboy Weaver sticks to her camera and a flare gun.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Once Kong attacks, the civilians and military are split up until the former (with PVT Slivko) finds the natives and Marlow.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Chapman's first reaction to seeing a giant gorilla on the horizon is just to flatly ask "Is that a monkey?"
    • After the attack on the helicopters, what's the first thing that Cole does? Eat a can of beans. This type of reaction wouldn't look out-of-place in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Mills even starts berating him for doing so.
    • Twice it's questioned if anyone is gonna address how the squad has been attacked by a monster - first, a giant gorilla, and then, a swarm of pterodactyls.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Both the soldiers and the LANDSAT scientists. Only Randa (and, to a lesser extent, Brooks and possibly San) had any idea what they were walking into, and he deliberately withholds that information until all of Packard's helicopters have been swatted out of the sky and most of their crews and the LANDSAT team are dead. The airdropped seismic charges were intended to flush Kong out (which worked out just great), and also awoke the skullcrawlers. Brooks even protests before takeoff that they should warn Packard of what's really going on, only to be brushed off by Randa.
  • Vertigo Effect: The jungle in the background changes proportions in the scene where Conrad and Weaver reach the bay with the ship wrecks.
  • The Voiceless: The natives of the Island aren't seen speaking at all, and much of their language seems to be non-verbal. It's implied they can speak, but living on the Island, they've learned to keep quiet as much as possible.
  • Wait Here: Conrad intends to leave his team and scout the environment alone, but Weaver protests and demands to tag along which he gruntingly accepts.
  • The War Has Just Begun: In The Stinger, Brooks tells Conrad and Weaver of the existence of other "kings" out there besides Kong, and that someday soon, they will return to reclaim the Earth.
  • War Is Hell: The dehumanising nature of war is a major theme in the movie, discussed at length by many different characters.
    Cole: Sometimes, an enemy doesn't exist till you go looking for one.
    Conrad: I guess no man comes home from war. Not really.
    Packard: We are soldiers! We do the dirty work, so our families and our countrymen don't have to be afraid! They shouldn't even know a thing like this exists!
  • Weapon Tombstone:
    • Packard makes a grave marker for the men killed in the initial encounter with Kong with an M16A1 planted in the dirt and two of the pilots' helmets placed near the rifle.
    • Gunpei's grave is marked with his sword, and Marlow retrieves it before leaving the village.
  • Windows of the Soul: In the "Moby Dick moment" of the film, the close-ups of both Packard's eyes and Kong's eyes as they are surrounded by flames cements their relationship as enemies from that point forward. During the scene where Conrad and Weaver bond with Kong, as Weaver touches him, the close-ups of Kong's eyes shows him warming up to them and hits home that despite the death and destruction he wrought during their first encounter, Kong is a peaceful creature at heart.
  • Worf Effect: A meta example: in the first remake, Kong was killed by helicopters. The first thing we see him fight in this version? He completely curbstomps an entire squadron of them without breaking a sweat, establishing how much more powerful he is than that Kong.
  • World of Badass: Not only the setting is a Death World, but even the civilians of the mission hold up in it pretty well.
  • World of Ham: With the presence of John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman, this is very much a given.
  • Worthy Opponent: Marlow treats the Japanese pilot that crashed together with him on Skull Island during WWII with utmost reverence. Their shared ordeal surviving the island's wildlife eventually turned them into Fire-Forged Friends.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Kong uses a ship propeller and anchor chain by throwing the propeller into Ramarak's back, then dragging him back to him with the chain.

Alternative Title(s): Skull Island

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/KongSkullIsland