2013 sundance


Set Visit: Everything you need to know about Kong: Skull Island

When it comes to film, there are few cinematic wonders as big as King Kong. From the 1933 original to Peter Jackson’s iteration, King Kong has always been an event of epic proportions, and KONG: SKULL ISLAND will be no different.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is a relative newcomer in the world of feature film, having directed the 2013 Sundance hit THE KINGS OF SUMMER, along with a few other shorts. At first glance, this situation seems very similar to Colin Trevorrow taking on the reins of JURASSIC WORLD. After all, both directors proved themselves on a more intimate, character-driven story before taking on a big-budget franchise. Trevorrow’s effort proved to be a box-office success, despite bringing in mixed reviews from fans. Obviously I can’t speak for SKULL ISLAND’S financial outcome just yet, but in relation to Trevorrow’s directorial effort, I can tell you one thing about KONG: SKULL ISLAND; the end result couldn’t be more different.

First off, you’ll note that Skull Island is in the actual title of the film, and that’s because it has a HUGE role to play. In order for Jordan and Co. to capture something tangible to fill in for this mysterious island, production would be shooting in Hawaii, Australia and Vietnam. I was invited out to the former location in December of 2015 to see a few of the sets (and scenes being shot), check out the concept art and speak to some of the cast and crew.

For now, we’re going to go over some of the bullet points of SKULL ISLAND so you know what to expect come March of 2017!

  • KONG: SKULL ISLAND is not connected to any other King Kong movie.
  • The prologue is set during World War II, where a US and Japanese fighter planes crash on Skull Island.
  • The remainder of the film takes place in 1973 during the tail-end of the Vietnam war.
  • Unlike Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA, we’ll see King Kong fairly early in the movie in all of his glory.
  • SKULL ISLAND’S Kong will be the largest yet, ranging from 80-100 feet.
  • Tom Hiddleston plays James Conrad, a former British SAS (Special Air Service) officer who’s brought in by Monarch (the shadowy organization from GODZILLA) to map out Skull Island.
  • Hiddleston has been attached to SKULL ISLAND for over a year and half, helping to develop the story and its characters.
  • Director Vogt-Roberts and Hiddleston talked about RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and JURASSIC PARK when discussing KONG.
  • Samuel L. Jackson plays Colonel Packard, leader of one of the most illustrious squadrons out of the war whose men he brings to Skull Island for “one last hurrah.”
  • Brie Larson plays Weaver, a photo-journalist who convinces her way onto this secret mission, believing that there’s something else going on due to the military support.
  • Brie Larson actually took pictures during filming with her period-appropriate camera.
  • John C. Reilly plays Marlowe, the WW2 pilot from the beginning who now lives on Skull Island with the natives.
  • Some of the other soldiers on the island are played by Toby Kebbell (WARCRAFT), Thomas Mann (ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL), as well as Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON fame.
  • John Goodman joins the team as a representative of Monarch.
  • The mission begins with our heroes dropping seismic survey instruments from helicopters. The shock waves disturb the peace, prompting the sheriff of the island, Kong, to rise up and retaliate. After the confrontation, everybody is stranded.
  • Conrad and Weaver lead one group to try and escape the island, while Packard leads another group in an effort to destroy Kong.
  • There is no damsel in distress or “love story” as with the other Kong films.
  • Skull Island will feature no dinosaurs, but new creatures that feel realistic and are “individual gods of their own domain.” Miyazaki and PRINCESS MONONOKE were big references regarding the creatures and the areas in which they live.
  • One such set piece involves our heroes moving through a bamboo forest, of which some are revealed to be giant spiders’ legs.
  • Kong will do battle with a giant squid-like creature at some point.
  • There is a larger threat on Skull Island that could rise up if Kong is not there to stop it.
  • As the film goes on, we’ll see a bit of what the daily life of Kong is like, and some of the humans will grow to understand how important he is to the ecosystem of Skull Island.

Now that you’re all caught up on the facts, check out our following two set visit reports below to read up on our interviews, get even more plot information and learn about what scenes we saw being filmed!

Best of 2013

Here at OCD, we like to do things slightly differently, like wait until the end of January to publish our ‘Best of 2013’ list.

So here are the top ten films we saw last year, we cannot recommend every single one enough:

1. Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie D'Adele)

Winner of the Palme d'Or, Abdellatif Kechiche’s masterpiece, starring Adele Exarchopoulos & Lea Seydoux, is one of the best films I have seen in my entire life, let alone in the last year. Beautifully shot, mind-blowing and heart-wrenching performances. Simply stunning, a cinematic masterpiece. How storytelling should always be done. Watch out particularly for the bar scene at the beginning (above) and the cafe scene at the end, the most moving and truthful character and relationship development you’ll ever see.

2. Short Term 12

Adapted into a feature by Destin Cretton from his own short film of 2008, Short Term 12 is nuanced, delicate storytelling with a powerful message at its heart. Brie Larson shines as Grace, a supervisor at a residential treatment facility taking care of everyone but herself. The young cast provide brilliant support, particularly Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever as Marcus and Jayden, the rap sequence and shark story will steal your hearts.

3. 12 Years A Slave

Steve McQueen. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Michael Fassbender. Lupita Nyong'o.
A true story so important and so moving, it’s difficult to understand why it isn’t widely known. 

4. Side Effects

Very rarely am I tricked when watching a film. Soderbergh managed it here, and I loved every second of it. Mara steals the show as the troubled Emily, with great turns from Law & Zeta-Jones as two of the Doctors who treat her. A carefully crafted plot, allowed to play out beautifully by Soderbergh, in what was - at the time - to be his final film.

5. Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Sally Hawkins. Alec Baldwin. Peter Sarsgaard. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett.

Cate. Blanchett.

6. Blackfish

Watch it. Then make everyone you know watch it. You won’t believe it until you see it, then you’ll start to question a whole lot of things. Heart-breaking, anger-inducing. FUCK SEAWORLD.

7. In A World…

Winner of 'Best Screenplay’ at Sundance 2013, you’ll understand why only a minutes into the film. Bell manages to take a concept that on paper seems pretty dull, and turns it into a hilarious, moving, and brilliantly human film, where not one word is wasted. Not only the writer and director, Bell captains the film as its lead, one that you fall in love with instantly, and root for against all odds. Peppered with bizarre and brilliant cameos, with a great supporting cast, In A World will leave you grinning from ear to ear, and have you speaking in a trailer voice for weeks.

8. The East

Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s second feature-length collaboration might not have the diamond-in-the-rough charm of 'Sound of My Voice’ but its a film that proves they’re more than a match for - and better than -  the big players of Hollywood. A bigger (but still modest) budget allows for a more adventurous story, better cinematography and a cast including some of the best actors currently on the scene - particularly Ellen Page and Toby Kebbell. As with everything Marling, Batmaglij (and fellow collaborator Mike Cahill) seem to touch, you are guaranteed quality story telling told in an unconventional and thought-provoking fashion. It’s difficult to remind ourselves that these talented filmmakers haven’t been around for long. We cannot wait to see what’s next.

9. The Bling Ring

Somewhat overlooked by many, Sofia Coppola’s 'The Bling Ring’ is a very well put together piece of cinema. The story lacks depth, but so do those the story centres on, the shallow, celebrity-obsessed, media-fuelled youth - so in that respect it is a perfect representation of everything Coppola is trying to say. The performances from the five leads are pitch perfect, they are easy to hate and yet we can find ourselves very easily sucked into their world, wanting to see just how far they will get.
Based on a shocking true story, the film is beautifully shot, and there are certain facts uncovered that suddenly make the story seem inevitable, in fact, why had this not happened before? Coppola lets the story breathe, which works wonders, she doesn’t need to preach anything, she simply holds up a mirror up to Hollywood, and Hollywood does the rest. It’s not a pretty sight.

10. The Call

The film last year that we found ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats throughout. The film we saw last year that had the most active audience participation. People were gripping their seat arms, shouting out 'No!’ on multiple occasions. If you wipe from your memory the last 60-90 seconds of the film, you have yourselves the perfect example of a thriller.