The theatrical version of Kong: Skull Island was better than it had any right to be.
It was an entertaining popcorn monster flick that surprised a lot of people with just how fun it was, including me. However, the underdeveloped and one dimensional leads, the over abundance of side characters and some jarring pacing prevented it from becoming a true action movie classic. Since I’m a giant nerd, I’ve written a version of the film which I think might take Kong from good to great.
Let’s get to it! Here’s Kong: Skull Island redone, remastered and reimagined.
1. Kingdom Come
Much like the theatrical version, our story opens during World War 2 with a young American fighter pilot and his Japanese enemy falling from the sky to crash upon Skull Island. They chase each other into the jungle in a brutal fight sequence as they struggle to gain control of the Japanese’ pilot’s sword. However, they are interrupted by a colossal beast.
This is where we deviate from the theatrical version as this time, it’s not Kong who crashes onto the scene, it’s the Mother Skullcrawler.
The two pilots are caught in its rampage but before they can be trampled, a gargantuan mass of black and silver fur collides with the Mother Skullcrawler, sending both monsters crashing into a nearby mountain side. We see that this new creature is a gigantic ape but it’s not the Kong that we know and love. It’s old, its fur is streaked with silver and it is covered from head to toe with battle scars.
The two pilots huddle together and take cover as the battle of titans shakes the very earth and tears apart much of the landscape. The Mother Skullcrawler rips into Papa Kong’s throat with its fangs, fatally wounding the noble beast. But with the last of his strength, Papa Kong snaps its neck and then slams the Mother Skullcrawler against the mountain, causing an avalanche that buries both of them.
Silence fills the jungle and the two pilots wander cautiously out into the wreckage, their previous desire to kill each other forgotten completely. As they explore their surroundings, they hear a noise, the sound of a wounded beast. The Japanese pilot goes to investigate despite the protests of the American pilot. The American follows him anyway, not wanting to be left alone in the jungle.
They find another giant ape lying wounded amongst the wreckage. It’s smaller than the first ape, though its fur is also streaked with grey. Its arms are covering something, a dark bundle of fur clutched in its final embrace. The pilots watch in stunned silence as the creature’s eyes go blank and it breathes its last. The beast’s arms fall aside and in the shadow of the dead colossus, we see another ape. Though it’s just an infant, it is still enormous, roughly the size of a van. It opens its eyes and looks at the two humans.
This ape is the last of his kind.
This is Kong.
2. The Tracker
We jump to over thirty years later to see Bill Randa (John Goodman), Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) arriving at a bar.Unlike the theatrical version, we’re jumping forward a little bit further to a few years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War. We learn a little about each character as they bicker about Randa’s plan.
- Randa is an eccentric millionaire funding their cause who is madly passionate about their mission. He’s willing to do anything to reach “the island”. We also see that he’s obsessed with documenting everything about their expedition as he photographs everything in sight.
- Brooks is a brilliant and ambitious geologist who is much more cautious than Randa. He’s excited about this mission as it will greatly further his career but he is unsure if the risk is worth it.
- In this version, Mason is a biologist rather than a war photographer. She’s passionate about nature and the thrill of discovery but she’s also clearly skeptical of the lengths Randa seems to be willing to go to achieve their goal. She doesn’t want to compromise their morals to get to “the island”. She’s a pacifist who is vehemently anti-war and the thought of hiring a Vietnam veteran and mercenary to help with their expedition sickens her.
Just a note that this treatment is primarily focusing on the story so things like the comic relief are glossed over but there’ll definitely still be room for fun moments throughout the film.
Their conversation is interrupted when a man drunkenly gropes Mason. She responds by shoving the man hard in the chest. He staggers, spilling the drink of a nearby thug. A wild bar brawl ensues as the drunk is somehow able to demolish five other men before being overwhelmed and thrown out of the bar into a puddle of mud where he promptly passes out.
Randa is laughing uproariously the whole time and he tells Mason and Brooks that they’ve just found their man. They walk outside and look apprehensively at the drunken man lying face down on the street.
Meet Captain James Conrad. Formerly of the United States Army Special Forces. Decorated Vietnam veteran. Renowned jungle combat specialist and tracker.
We see Conrad stumble to his feet before throwing up in a nearby trash can.
A real American hero.
They take Conrad to their hotel room and clean him up. Mason tries to convince Randa to find someone else but Randa says that Conrad is the only man for the job. Once Conrad is sober (or at least sober enough for coherent speech), they tell him about their mission. They need Conrad to guide an expedition to map out the mysterious “Skull Island”, which could hold untold geological and biological marvels. Conrad refuses at first (to the relief of Mason) but after a passionate speech from Randa about this expedition being his life’s work and how it can give Conrad purpose in life after Vietnam, Conrad reluctantly agrees – as long as they pay him a LOT of money.
As Randa celebrates and Mason seethes, Conrad asks Brooks what their plan is to actually get to the island. Brooks nervously tells Conrad that they’re still figuring that out. They can get to there by ship but they’ll need someone to fly them onto the island itself, which will be incredibly dangerous given the storms surrounding the island. Conrad smiles and says he might know a few men that can help them with that.
3. War Never Changes
We cut to Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) alone in a small, dinghy apartment, drinking scotch straight out of the bottle. We see him going through his old medals. He begins to throw them in the trash, one by one.
When Packard returned from war, he didn’t get a parade – all he got was ridicule and scorn. He pulls a guy out from his drawer and stares at it before slowly beginning to load a magazine. Suddenly, his phone rings. He picks up the phone and we hear Conrad’s voice on the other side. Conrad asks Packard whether he’s ready to get back to work. Conrad is getting the band back together. Packard grins and tells Conrad that whatever it is, he’s in. Packard puts the gun away and in a small, heartfelt moment, he thanks Conrad before hanging up.
4. Devils in the Sky
A month later, the team all gather on the docks and board the ship. We meet the Sky Devils, formerly the best helicopter squadron in the US Army. Their leader, a rejuvenated Packard greets Conrad with a rib crushing hug and they share some playful banter as Conrad introduces Packard to Randa, Brooks and Mason. Randa and Packard immediately get along as they are both wildly excited for this expedition (though for rather different reasons). Mason and Packard clash quickly as Packard immediately pegs her for a war protester and peace activist.
The tension is diffused when the Sky Devils begin to throw goodnatured insults at Conrad, revealing some of his more embarrassing habits to Mason, who laughs despite herself. The expedition team bond with the good natured and rowdy Sky Devils as the ship sets sail. Over the next few days, even Mason seems to be warming to them though she still treats Conrad coldly. Obviously, his first impression at the bar wasn’t a good one).
Soon Conrad, Brooks and Mason brief the Sky Devils on what they can expect on the island. We learn that Randa believes the island was an emergence point for huge hollow pockets he believed existed underground, where an entirely unknown ecosystem could exist. Whatever they find on that island will be unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. Brooks reveals his plan to map the island using depth charges, a part of the plan which Mason clearly still disapproves of due to the damage it will cause to the flora and fauna. We get the impression that this is an argument they have had hundreds of times before. Brooks becomes frustrated and despite Randa’s attempts to calm them both down, the argument becomes heated and Mason storms off.
She walks to the cargo bay to be alone but to her surprise, Conrad is there, drinking of course. We can see that he’s already gone through several bottles of whiskey. We also notice that he is absent-mindedly playing with an old lighter. He invites Mason to drink with him and after some hesitation, she agrees.
After a few drinks, Mason opens up about how she’s never gotten along with people. She’s bull headed, opinionated to a fault and reflexively argumentative. That’s why she loves working with animals and why she’s so fascinated with nature. Bill Randa is her only human friend and she thinks that’s only because he might very well be crazy. Conrad just shrugs and says that they’re all crazy for going on this expedition. They think that they can control what happens on the island. They think Conrad can protect them. But he’s seen the power of the jungle first hand. Once they arrive on the island, they’re at nature’s mercy.
He asks her why she’s going and after a moment, she replies that this discovery might be the defining point of her life, a way for her to leave her mark. That way, all of her talk about changing the world will actually mean something. She won’t just be some loud mouthed blow hard who was all bark and no bite. She turns the question on Conrad and asks Conrad why he decided to fight in the war. When he simply says that it wasn’t a choice for him, Mason is annoyed and tries to convince him that violence is never the answer. However, she is interrupted by the arrival of Colonel Packard.
The Colonel tells Mason that she doesn’t understand. Civilians never do. Men like them weren’t made for civilian life. Like Packard, Conrad came from a military family. Like Packard, Conrad’s father fought in World War 2 and never came back. That’s why he carries around that lighter. It’s the only thing he has left of him. They were both born to be soldiers. This is the only life they have ever known. That’s why Randa hired them.
Mason is taken aback and says that this is a discovery expedition, not a war. The war is over. Packard simply laughs and tells her that there is always a war.
They are interrupted by the sound of Randa’s voice blaring excitedly over the PA. They leave the cargo hold and watch in awe as Skull Island looms into view.
5. Skull Island
Randa goes over the plan one more time as they draw closer to the island. The Sky Devils will fly them through the storm and they will set up camp before dropping the depth charges so that Brooks can get a reading of the island. He takes a moment to congratulate and hug Mason and Brooks, telling them both how he loves them both and that he is proud of them. Packard rallies the Sky Devils and they lift off.
The helicopters are able to push on and they punch through the storm to arrive on Skull Island. The team celebrates as they set up camp in the jungle, marvelling at their surroundings. Even Packard seems in awe of what he sees as the sheer scope and beauty of the island is breath taking. Only Conrad is on guard and apprehensive. He seems to be on the verge of falling apart at the seams and repeatedly urges everyone to keep focused. Mason sees that he is breaking down and gently tries to calm him to no avail.
The team board the helicopters again and begin to detonate depth charges all over the island. Brooks is ecstatic as he begins to get readings of the island, confirming his theories of the vast subterranean caverns. Randa is laughing like a mad man on one of the choppers. His dreams are coming true. He begins to snap photos from the chopper but pauses when his camera catches something looming in the distance.
Suddenly, a tree flies through the air and impales the chopper flying beside Randa. The shape rises to its full height. It’s gargantuan. Over a 100 feet tall.
It’s him. It’s the King.
6. Return of the King
Everyone is dumb founded, unable to process what is happening. Packard is the first to regain his composure as he tells the Sky Devils to form a perimeter around the giant ape. He tries to get in touch with the chopper that was destroyed but is unable. Kong just watches them surrounding him. He roars, challenging these intruders to make their claim for his territory. Packard is enraged at the death of his men and tells the Sky Devils to take the giant ape down despite Randa and Mason’s protests.
The Sky Devils open fire on Kong. Big mistake. Kong massacres them, swatting chopper after chopper out of the air like flies. The King roars and beats his chest before disappearing into the jungle. He has made his point.
We cut to the other side of the island and see a familiar collapsed mountain side. This is the burial ground for Kong’s father – and the Mother Skullcrawler. The fires of a depth charge are still smouldering nearby and we see that the explosion has disturbed the rubble. As the fire flickers, we see the rubble begin to shake.
1. There is Always a War
The survivors have now been split into two groups. First, we catch up with Mason and Brooks who are dragged out of the wreckage by Conrad and a few surviving Sky Devils. They in shock but an angry Conrad demands to know what is going on. They were not prepared for that. This expedition was doomed from the start. Mason says that she can explain. They lied to Conrad and his men. This was not a private operation, not entirely.
Meanwhile, the other surviving Sky Devils corner Randa who desperately tries to placate them. Packard slugs Randa in the face and then puts a gun to his head. He wants answers.
Randa reveals that in the 1940’s, Randa was aboard the U.S.S. Lawton and was attacked by a giant monster. He became obsessed with proving the existence of monsters when his incident was covered up as an accident, and joined the organization Monarch, which specialized in the search for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms, or M.U.T.O.s. Their mission was to find and study the M.U.T.O living on this island. Plackard punches Randa again and says that this is no longer true.
That thing killed his men. Their mission is not to find and study it. Their mission is to find and kill it.
2. The Law of the Jungle
Conrad leads Mason and Brooks through the jungle, clearly still furious with them for lying to him. They try to reach the others on radio but get no response. They stumble upon a giant wildebeest and Conrad tells them to run.
However, Mason sees that it is wounded and tries to help it. She deduces that something has attacked it, a carnivore with huge serrated fangs. The creature dies and Conrad yells at her for her stupidity. He tells her that everything on this island is trying to kill them. As far as she is concerned, nature is their enemy. We see that they are being watched from a distance by the natives of the island who see Mason’s attempt to help the wildebeest.
Throughout all this, Packard’s team makes their way through the island. They are trying to get in touch with the rest of the expedition but their radio equipment is too damaged. They are having a tough time as they are attacked by giant flying reptiles. Several of Packard’s men are killed and they are forced to flee into the jungle. They come across a lake and find a bloody handprint of Kong on the cliff side. Packard is ecstatic as he realises that the beast can be wounded, which means that it can be killed. Randa warns him that he is trifling with powers that he cannot comprehend. They didn’t come to this island looking for a fight. Packard shoves Randa to the ground and scoffs. The island brought the fight to them when it killed his men.
That night, Conrad’s team make camp but Conrad sits apart from the group, drinking alone from his flask. Brooks and Mason question whether Randa managed to make it out alive. They talk about how Randa has been like a father to both of them which prompts Brooks to apologise to Mason. He didn’t listen to her and still setting off the depth charges. He confesses that he was only thinking of his career and how great this discovery would be for him. Mason says that it’s her fault as well. She was so keen to be part of the discovery that she compromised her morals and allowed the detonation to happen even though she knew it was wrong. They shake hands and resolve their differences.
Mason tries to get Conrad to join them but he refuses. She goes and sits with him to apologise for lying about the expedition but sees just how much he is drinking. She questions him as to why he drinks so much. Conrad just laughs and says that if she thinks he’s a bad drunk, she should see the kind of guy he is when he’s sober. He muses that he might actually be at home on this island. Now at least, he’s not the only monster around.
Suddenly, they are attacked by the creature that killed the wildebeest – a Skullcrawler. The Sky Devils hold off the reptilian monster, allowing Conrad, Mason and Brooks to run away. The Devils are slaughtered and the Skullcrawler corners our heroes. However, Kong himself appears to save the day.
During the intense and brutal battle, we see that the Skullcrawler seems capable of healing itself as it keeps getting up no matter what Kong throws at it. A chunk of the Skullcrawler’s flesh is ripped off during the fight and Mason can’t help but pick it up. Finally, Kong rips it in half and throws its dismembered body parts into the lake.
Kong turns his attention to our heroes but a lone figure walks from the trees to stand in his way. The figure waves to Kong and then bows. Kong stares at the figure but then to the surprise of the team, he walks away, leaving them alone. The natives appear and suddenly surround the team, their spears and bows raised. The figure turns to face the team and grins.
He introduces himself as Lieutenant Hank Marlow and says that he’s been stranded on the island for over thirty years. He welcomes the team to Skull Island – the kingdom of Kong.
3. Gone Native
Marlow takes them to the Iwi village and introduces them to the villagers as well as his former enemy and now best friend, Gunpei Ikari.
Gunpei chastises Marlow for bringing outsiders into the village and they begin bickering like an old married couple. Marlow believes that this group is their best shot at finally getting off the island. Gunpei dismisses the thought. No one gets off the island. all Marlow has done is give them three new mouths to feed. Nevertheless, they spend the night getting to know the villagers and slowly, even Gunpei begins to warm to them. As the team gather around the campfire, listening to Marlow’s war stories, Mason sits aside and begins to examine the chunk of flesh she retrieved from the Skullcrawler. She is surprised to find that the flesh is still alive and even moving slightly.
A native boy sees her with the flesh and he screams. Gunpei stalks over, furious. He throws the flesh into the fire. Gunpei takes the team to the village shrine and reveals that Kong is the island’s guardian, worshipped as a god by the natives for protecting the island’s inhabitants from many predators, including the reptilian underground monsters they encountered earlier. These monsters are nearly unstoppable and have the unique ability to heal themselves from nearly any injury. Marlow chimes in that he has dubbed these creatures “Skullcrawlers”.
We find out that these creatures have been stirred into a frenzy by the depth charges and they are crawling to the surface in far greater numbers than ever before. We also find out that the Mother killed Kong’s ancestors long ago, leaving him as the last of his kind. We see the painting of the colossal Mother Skullcrawler and Gunpei says that the villagers believe that one day, she will return, more powerful than ever before. When that day comes, they are all doomed. Conrad is clearly skeptical. He’s seen what Kong is capable of. The ape killed Conrad’s brothers which makes him just as much of a monster as the Skullcrawlers.
Mason and Marlow are able to convince Gunpei that they might just have a shot of getting off the island as the expedition team can help Marlow complete his make-shift boat so that they can get to the rendezvous point. However, Gunpei refuses to help them, calling it a fool’s errand and that he will devote his time to fortifying the village’s defences against Skullcrawler attacks.
We are treated to a montage of Mason, Brooks and Conrad start helping Marlow to get his ship up and running. The ship is a mess, pieced together from Gunpei and Marlow’s old fighter jets. It even has the jets’ guns mounted to the front. They start making some progress and bond as they fix it together.
Throughout the montage, we see Gunpei helping the villagers fortify their defences. He also takes his sword out into the field and practices his forms. During one late afternoon practice session, a colossal shadow falls over Gunpei and we see Kong watching the dimunitive Japanese man with great curiosity. Gunpei just smiles and bows to Kong before continuing his practice with the great ape as his audience.
4. Kingdom Under Siege
Meanwhile, Packard’s team continues to explore the island, attempting to get to the resupply point to get more weapons. Soon, they stumble upon a nest of enormous eggs and are attacked by a giant spider-like creature.
They are able to kill the creature but several of Packard’s men are killed. In his rage, Packard burns the creature’s nest and destroys its eggs. He’s done playing around.
Mason takes a break from working on the ship and she sneaks out of the village to study more of the island. She finds another wildebeest, an infant who is stuck under one of the crashed helicopters. She tries to help it out from under the wreckage but is unable to until Kong himself wanders by and lifts the wreckage, freeing the beast. Mason approaches Kong, who just watches her curiously. Conrad, who had noticed that Mason was missing, finds her in that moment and thinks Kong is about to attack her. He aims his weapon at Kong, spooking him and he almost crushes both of them. They are forced to run back into the village.
As Kong leaves, we change perspectives to Kong himself. We get to see Kong going about his daily routine and we get an idea of Kong’s place in the ecosystem. We see him harvesting the gargantuan bamboo shoots and plucking enormous fruit from the trees. We see him going for a swim to wash himself in the lake. Just another day in the life of the King.
Finally, we see him cross over to the other side of the island – the Forbidden Zone. He shows some hesitation at first but perseveres. We see that this side of the island is desolate and ravaged, mostly devoid of life. Kong walks through this wasteland where he comes to a massive skeleton. We realise that it’s the grave of his mother. He’s enraged to find it being desecrated by Skullcrawlers as three of them come out of the ground to ambush Kong. The great ape is able to kill them, ripping them literally to shreds and hurling one into the mountains with enough force to create a massive crater. However, he is wounded in the process and falls to his knees. Now kneeling at his mother’s side, Kong touches her skull before leaving the Forbidden Zone. He submerges himself in a lake to rest and heal.
Once he is gone, we see that the shattered mountain side begin to move again. Something has been disturbed, first by the depth charges and then by the commotion caused by Kong’s battle. Finally, after three decades healing her wounds in a comatose state, the Mother Skullcrawler bursts out of the earth and shrieks at the sky.
Back at the village, the team finally manages to get Marlow’s ship up and running, much to the surprise of Gunpei. However, the Japanese soldier is still reluctant to go with them as he believes that there is nothing for him back home. Marlow tries to convince Gunpei to go with them as Marlow talks about his family back home. He says he wants to see his wife and son one last time before he dies. Marlow asks whether Gunpei wants to return to his family as well.
Before Gunpei can reply, the Mother Skullcrawler bursts through the walls of the village. Panic erupts as she begins tearing the village like a hot knife through butter. With Kong still recuperating from his previous battle, the vilagers are defenceless. Gunpei tells Marlow to leave on the ship while they still have a chance. Marlow refuses to leave without his friend but Gunpei just gives Marlow his sword, asking him to keep it safe. Marlow pleads with Gunpei. What about his life back home? What about his family?
Gunpei smiles sadly and tells Marlow that his family is right here in this village. He suddenly head butts Marlow, knocking him out so that Conrad can carry him onto the ship. Gunpei begins strapping dynamite to himself as Conrad’s team sails away. They watch from a distance as Gunpei slowly approaches the Mother Skullcrawler. He prepares to sacrifice himself and calls for the Mother to eat him.
Instead, she whips Gunpei with her tail and he explodes against the side of the mountain.
Conrad, Mason and Brooks watch in horror as the monster shrieks in triumph, towering over the ashes of the village.
6. Left Behind
The mood is grim as they ride down the river. Marlow reminisces about how Gunpei started as sworn enemies but they became brothers. Marlow always suspected that Gunpei had a death wish. He had always spoken of wanting to die a glorious and honourable death but Marlow didn’t think that was the whole truth. Gunpei was always a peaceful soul and though he did his duty for his country, he had never been able to forget or forgive the blood on his hands. He believed himself to be a monster who was punished for his actions by being confined to this island. That’s why he had stopped being interested in returning home a long time ago. Marlow muses about whether Gunpei was right and he should stay on the island as well. Maybe he doesn’t deserve to go home.
Mason speaks up and says that Marlow is wrong. She’s realised that sometimes you have to fight to protect your home and your family. She tells him that what he did in the line of duty does not make him a bad man. He’s more than just his gun and uniform. If he did something that he regrets, then it’s his duty now to atone for those sins, not to hide himself away in shame. Conrad seems to be listening to her words intently though he does not say a thing. They share a moment of silence for Gunpei as the ship passes through a serene and beautiful landscape where they are surrounded by enormous butterflies.
To the joy of Conrad, they are able to reestablish contact with Packard’s team. However, Marlow is horrified once Packard gives them their location. Packard’s team have made their way to the Forbidden Zone. They have found themselves in the land of the Skullcrawlers. Marlow says that they are dead men and they cannot be saved. Conrad and Mason convince him that this is not the case. Those men are their brothers, just like Gunpei was, and they’re going to save them or die trying.
Meanwhile, an injured Kong comes across the wreckage of the village. He picks through the wreckage, shocked to find the corpses of the villagers strewn around him. A few of the surviving villagers crawl out from hiding and bow to Kong. The King beats his chest and roars. His message is clear. He will avenge them.
1. The Forbidden Zone
They dock the ship on the riverbed and venture into the Forbidden Zone. The desolate landscape is covered by flammable gas (which Brooks finds out after attempting to light a cigarette and flash burning his eyebrows off) but soon they find the skeleton of Kong’s mother.
Packard’s team meets them at this grave and finally, the two teams reunite. Conrad and Packard embrace and Randa crushes Mason and Brooks together in a mighty bear hug. They introduce Packard and the remaining Sky Devils to Marlow. They get each other up to speed on recent events and ask why Packard has taken his men into the Forbidden Zone. Packard reveals that they are crossing the wasteland to get to their base camp, where they can find enough weapons and explosives to kill the giant ape.
Marlow goes ballistic and tells them that this plan is insane. If they kill Kong, the entire island will be thrown into chaos. Mason agrees and to Packard’s surprise, so does Conrad. Packard is taken aback and calls them all traitors. That thing killed their men. It killed their brothers. It deserves to die.
The shouting match draws some unwanted attention and before they can finish their argument, a Skullcrawler bursts from the ground. They flee but the monster slaughters many of the Sky Devils before devouring Randa who compulsively stops to take a picture of the beast. With the camera still flashing in its belly, the Skullcrawler stalks the surviving members of the exhibition team, picking them off one by one. Working together, Mason and Conrad are able to lure it into a patch of flammable gas and then use Conrad’s lighter to ignite the creature, blowing it into a million pieces.
2. War Never Ends
The team are able to get to safety and start making their way towards the ship. However, Packard is adamant that they find the weapons and kill Kong. Marlow tries to convince him to stop this madness but Packard doesn’t listen. To Marlow’s surprise, Brooks and Mason don’t even try to speak up. They’re shell shocked, clearly traumatised by the death of Randa. Mason breaks down and starts sobbing. She says she just wants to go home. Packard asks Conrad, who has been characteristically silent throughout all this, what he thinks. Conard just shrugs. He’s done with fighting. Packard is disgusted but tells them that they are free to go if they wish to. But he has to make sure that the thing that killed his brothers is put down.
The two teams part ways as Conrad takes the civilians back to their boat while Packard’s team finds the weapons stored at base camp. Conrad’s team works in silence as they laod up the ship. They set sail and Conrad opens his flask to take a drink. It’s empty. He laughs and shakes his head.
He tells Mason that Packard was wrong about Conrad’s father dying in the war. His father did come back – but he wasn’t the same. The man who came back was an abusive drunk who took out his trauma on his wife and children. Conrad carried around that lighter at first to remind him not to become like his father. But lo and behold, he did.
But he’s done drowning his sorrow in booze and hiding himself away from society. He’s ashamed of what he did in Vietnam but he’s done punishing himself. Mason was right. If he wants to atone for his sins, he needs to do something about it.
As Conrad stands and readies his weapons, he tells Marlow to take the civilians back to the rendezvous point. If he’s not there by the end of the day, they’re to go without him. Mason asks what the hell he is talking about. What is Conrad thinking of doing?
Conrad just laughs. Isn’t that obvious? He’s going to save the island. Conrad leaps off the boat into the river as Marlow gives an ecstatic cheer.
3. The King is Dead
Meanwhile, Packard rallies his team with an inspiring speech about slaying this monster for the good of mankind. On his signal, the Sky Devils triggers napalm explosions to lure Kong in. The great ape soon appears, still limping from his previous battle with the Skullcrawlers. Packard stares him down as Kong charges across the lake. Packard smirks and tells his men to light Kong up. They ignite the gasoline covering the lake, engulfing Kong in flames.
The mighty beast is incapacitated and collapses at the edge of the lake, right at Packard’s feet. The Colonel gloats and prepares to detonate the napalm to finish off Kong once and for all. Before he can press the button, Conrad appears and puts a gun to his head.
The Sky Devils bristle and surround Conrad but he tells them that he knows the Colonel better than any of them. This was never about Kong. This is about Colonel Packard being too afraid to leave the war behind. There’s nothing left for Packard in the real world so he has gone and made another war of his own. Conrad tells Packard that killing this creature won’t bring his men back but it will destroy this entire island and everything that lives on it. He tells Packard that it’s time to learn when not to fight. Packard coldly replies that fighting was never a choice for him. He tells his men to kill Conrad and prepares to press the button.
Suddenly, there is an ominous shriek in the distance. The explosions attracted another creature. The ground begins to shake and an enormous shape bursts through the tree line.
The Mother Skullcrawler has arrived.
4. Long Live the King
The Skullcrawler rips through Packard’s troops, who are all forced to retreat into the jungle. Still woozy from the fire, Kong tries to get up and fight her but she simply wraps her tail around his neck and hurls him into the lake. Conrad urges Packard to come with him and escape but Packard refuses as he stares down the Skullcrawler. She charges at Packard and he detonates the napalm, incinerating himself in the process. The Mother is stunned but she quickly gets up and chases after the humans.
Conrad and the remaining Sky Devils are cornered in a ravine filled with old wrecked ships. He rallies the troops and they stand together as the Mother Skullcrawler slowly advances. Suddenly, the Mother is bombarded from the side by heavy gatling gun fire. Marlow, Mason and Brooks ride into battle on their junkyard ship, bombarding the Mother with their mounted guns.
The Mother lunges at this mild nuisance but an enormous tree crashes into the side of her head, throwing her against the ravine wall. Kong positions himself between the humans and the Mother. He is still limping but in his hand is crushed a colossal tree. He strips the branches from the trunk and grips the tree in both hands as if it is a sword. He settles into a crude stance vaguely similar to the one he watched Gunpei practice.
Kong snarls as the Mother shrieks at him. Finally, Kong is face to face with the creature that wiped out his entire race. He raises his makeshift sword.
The message is clear.
Bring it, bitch.
The two behemoths charge and collide at the centre of the ravine.
Kong is still injured but he fights with a savagery and rage we have not seen from him before. He thrashes the Mother all over the place, beating her like a cherokee drum. However, she is able to snag the tree in her jaws and crushes it. Without his weapon, the Mother is able to overpower Kong, brutalising him with her tail and claws. She repeatedly smashes him into the walls of the ravine and then hurls him on to a wrecked ship that collapses on top of him.
With Kong trapped, the Mother turns her attention to the weaker prey, the humans. As Kong desperately tries to get out from under the ship, the humans scatter and distract the Mother. It is able to kill several of the Sky Devils and then finally corners Mason and Conrad who are only saved by Brooks manning the machine guns to distract the Mother once again.
Finally, Kong breaks free from the ship and then uses its anchor and chain to snag the Mother and drag her into a crushing choke hold. Kong holds on for dear life but the Mother is just too strong and overpowers him once more. She drags Kong to the ground and then goes for his throat, the same way that she killed his father.
She doesn’t get the chance. Kong roars and with startling speed, he bites her throat first. The Skullcrawler shrieks as Kong rips her jugular out and then snaps her jaws wide open.
Finally, Kong rams his entire fist down her throat and rips the entrails out from her mouth.
The Mother Skullcrawler falls at Kong’s feet, dead. The King beats his chest and roars. At last, he has had his revenge. Kong turns his attention to the humans, towering over them with a fierce scowl on his face.
Marlow urges them all to bow. They all follow his lead and Kong grunts in approval. They know their place. He allows them to board their ship.
The surviving members of the expedition team leave Skull Island. Mason embraces Conrad as they sail into the distance and thanks him for doing what he did. He smiles and shrugs. As far as he was concerned, he was just doing his job.
As they leave, Kong watches and stakes his claim one last time. Mason and Conrad watch the giant ape growing smaller and smaller. He roars, shaking the very trees across the entire island. Now truly, this island belongs to Kong.
Long live the King.
The credits play out exactly as the theatrical version. Marlow finally returns home. He has a heartfelt reunion with his wife and meets his son for the first time. He gets his wish as he settles down at home with a beer, a hot dog and a Chicago Cubs game on television.
Our post credits scene differs a little from the theatrical version. Sometime after the Skull Island expedition, Conrad is approached by Mason and Brooks on behalf of Monarch. They inform him that Kong is not the only monster to roam the world. As proof, they are shown archive footage of cave paintings depicting Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. Mason excitedly asks whether Conrad wants in. He smiles and says he has two questions:
How much do they pay?
And when does he start?
Once again, we cut to black at the sound of a familiar roar.
There we go!
Basically, I tried to streamline the story by removing or combining unnecessary characters and subplots (eg. all of Landsat, some of the military characters though they can still be included in reduced roles). This allowed us to really focus more on the characters including Kong himself while still retaining the fun tone of the theatrical version.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading this version of the film as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thanks for reading!