Bong Joon-Ho Had A Subtle Impact On The King Kong Franchise

Warner Bros' Monsterverse seems to be doing pretty well for itself, having just greenlit two television shows for Apple, and a sequel to "Godzilla vs. Kong" after its box office success. People love seeing giant monsters do their thing. While Gareth Edwards' melancholic "Godzilla" is still my favorite of the four film franchise, I've slightly come around a bit on director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' "Kong: Skull Island." It's a flawed creature feature whose gnarly special effects are more alive than its human characters, and it doesn't exactly make its titular monster much of a compelling character, but Vogt-Roberts ("The Kings of Summer") provides enough flair to make this adaptation of the "Eighth Wonder of the World" his own.

Previous incarnations of Kong have usually taken their time revealing him because you're meant to experience the grandiose spectacle of the Skull Island monster along with the rest of the crew. But after so many versions of the 1933 film, we have a good idea of what to expect. You'll find a number of influences in "Kong: Skull Island," from "Apocalypse Now" to "Cannibal Holocaust," but the way in which Kong himself is first unleashed surprisingly stems from one of our greatest filmmakers: Bong Joon-ho ("Parasite").

In an interview with Culture Calling, Vogt-Roberts spoke about how the Academy Award-winning filmmaker's foray with monster movies validated what he wanted to do with introducing Kong in all his glory for the first time:

"I wanted to reject the fundamental idea that that's how a monster movie has to go. I was sick of the idea that you have to withhold the creature. Bong Joon-ho made a South Korean movie called 'The Host' that shows the creature right away. Then it's not about waiting to see this creature. It's about how this creature affects the people and the story. Godzilla brilliantly played the game of withholding, so we fundamentally had to play a different game. When people approach genre, they're so set in their ways. I was kicking and screaming, wanting to subvert it and make not just a monster movie, but a blockbuster that felt unlike other blockbusters."

Making an Ape-propriate entrance

I don't think "Kong: Skull Island" is the best example of a blockbuster that feels different from the rest, but I'll give Vogt-Roberts this — his Kong's grand entrance is loads of creature feature fun. Peter Jackson's "King Kong" has probably given the giant ape his best movie monster entrance, while simultaneously making him the emotional crux of the film. There's one thing, however, that Jackson's film didn't have, and that is Kong mercilessly taking out helicopters as if they were highly combustible bath toys.

While "The Host" and "Kong: Skull Island" both share similarities in the blunt introductions of their monsters, they couldn't be more different from one another. When the mutated Gweomul attacks in "The Host," it's seen from a distance as if it had escaped from the depths of hell. It appears so suddenly that this seemingly arbitrary entrance becomes a frightening disruption to the stillness of daily life, and the people in its path, both heroes and terrified bystanders, are at its mercy. In Vogt-Roberts' film, Kong's introduction isn't what I would consider scary, but I do see the filmmaker's point of how unleashing the ape's fury right out of the gate gave "Skull Island" its unique identity, especially from the Monsterverse's previous slow-burn outing.

Amid all of the tree-throwing, hulk-smashing, and diversionary tactics, the portion of Kong's destructive entrance that I truly love is when you're allotted a front row seat to his fury from within the body of the chopper. The fixed perspective makes you feel like you've just boarded an amusement park ride, not unlike the "King Kong" 3-D portion of Universal Studios Tour, where Kong picks up your vehicle, which really puts into perspective how massive he is. The cherry on top is watching the last soldier on that chopper holding on for dear life, only to fall towards Kong's mouth, and then immediately cut to Marc Evan Jackson munching on a sandwich. This hilarious edit sets you up for exactly the kind of tongue in cheek creature mayhem you're about to get.

"Kong: Skull Island" is currently streaming on HBO Max.