Kong: Skull Island

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Kong: Skull Island Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Battles are brutally violent in diverse, '70s-set reboot.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 80 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes teamwork and not judging others by their appearance -- even seemingly violent creatures. By listening to one another instead of jumping to conclusions, the soldiers and civilians are able to ultimately work together to save Kong and the island. One of the soldiers poses the idea that an enemy isn't an enemy until you threaten his home and family. The idea of sacrificing yourself for the greater good is examined.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mason is a courageous conflict photographer at a time when most photojournalists were men. Conrad starts off just working for the money but realizes there's more at stake than just cash. Kong at first seems like a bloodthirsty killer, but he's revealed to be an ardent protector of his home and those in it. Randa has good intentions, but he lies and keeps things secret when he should have told others the truth from the beginning. Packard cares about his men, but he also seems more interested in vengeance than saving the men's lives. Marlow is kind and generous with his knowledge about the island. The natives aren't really portrayed in more than a superficial manner. The cast is diverse compared to movies actually made in the 1970s or about the '70s.


The violence can be graphic and brutal, and the body count is incredibly high. Kong rips apart and causes several helicopters to crash into each other and into a river, instantly killing soldiers and civilians. He stomps on people, casually throws them, eats them, and dismembers them. Other giant creatures also kill, injure, or dismember victims, including giant birds, a spider, and an octopus, as well as Kong's main rivals: giant, slithering, reptilian creatures that fight both him and the humans. The battles are violent and gruesome, and there are many bloody and jump-worthy moments. A couple of characters sacrifice themselves to buy their friends a little more time to escape. One character nearly drowns.


A couple of brief scenes set in Southeast Asia bars/brothels imply prostitution. Scantily clad women in bikinis and lingerie dance provocatively or grab soldiers by the hand. Mason and Conrad flirt and touch each other protectively; they embrace and touch foreheads. Two scientists flirt and hold each other.


One use of "f--king," as well as more than a few uses of "s--t," "d--k," "a--," "badass," "mother-" (the rest is cut off), "hell," "damn," "bitch," "life just punches you in the balls," and "bulls--t."


One quick close-up of a Sony camera.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink in a seedy bar. A character mentions missing having a beer. A credits scene reveals a character having a long-awaited bottle of American beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kong: Skull Island is a very violent, action-packed reboot of the King Kong story. Set in the 1970s, the movie follows a group of scientists on a mission to survey a mysterious island in Southeast Asia. That's where they encounter several dangerous giant creatures, including an ape trying to protect his habitat (there are also giant birds, a spider, an octopus, and reptilian creatures). Things get pretty brutal, with victims being dismembered, stomped on, eaten, and tossed around; helicopters also crash and are ripped apart. So you can expect a high body count, with scene after scene of jump-worthy action, death, and gore. The language can also be strong, with one use of "f--k," plus several uses of "s--t," "ass," "bitch," etc. There's also some social drinking, but sex is limited to embraces and very brief implied prostitution in a couple of scenes set in Vietnam and Thailand. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Oscar winner Brie Larson co-star, accompanied by a diverse supporting cast; themes include teamwork and courage.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bypokeeffe3121 July 21, 2018

Violent but positive message.

The body count is high. My 8 & 10 year olds watched it and some scenes were very violent intense. Possibly too intense for kids younger than 10 if that... Continue reading
Adult Written bySam M. January 3, 2018

Intense and Disturbing Violence

Thought I’d give this a watch to see how suitable it was for an under 12 my son is a grown up 8 year old. Completely unsuitable! So graphic I can’t understand... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHarry.trax March 11, 2017

Intense King Kong movie , has shocking fight scenes and high body count!

Violence and gore: 4/5
Sex and nudity: 1/5
Language: 3/5
Frightening images and terror: 4/5
Overall: 12/20 Age: 14+ For intense s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKingRobert November 9, 2017

My dad thinks it should have been rated R

I honestly loved this movie but when my dad saw it at home he said "I wish this movie was rated R". Now I'm not going to tell you every little vi... Continue reading

What's the story?

KONG: SKULL ISLAND is set in 1973, toward the end of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. A mysterious, well-connected group of scientists, led by Bill Randa (John Goodman), joins forces with a map-surveying mission to visit an uncharted island in Southeast Asia. They're accompanied by a military escort, courtesy of Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his intrepid helicopter brigade. Shady British tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) are along for the ride, as are the soldiers, surveyors, and geologists, like Victor Nieves (John Ortiz), who have no idea what they're in for when the island turns out to be home to all sorts of giant, flesh-eating creatures. And a humongous ape, aka Kong, is at the top of the food chain. When the helicopters arrive and start dropping bombs, Kong takes them out, killing much of the expedition and stranding the rest of them. Soon the crew is divided, with Packard set on getting vengeance, while Conrad and Weaver bump into Marlow (John C. Reilly), an American pilot who's been surviving among the island's native people since WWII. Marlow explains that Kong is the king and guardian of the island and that it's the slithering underground creatures that are the real danger.

Is it any good?

Part reboot, part Apocalypse Now homage, this is the goriest and least approachable Kong to date. But Skull Island does have enough memorable creature battle scenes to make for a fun, if jumpy, moviegoing experience. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and the screenwriters give Kong a case of Coppola fever. From Jackson's bloodthirsty "love the smell of napalm in the morning" need for vengeance to the fact that a character is named Conrad (Apocalypse Now was based on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad) to the aviator sunglasses and slow-motion shots of helicopter rotor blades, it's all there. Except instead of Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz living among the natives, it's Reilly's goofy Capt. Marlow (also a Heart of Darkness name) who's been stranded there. Reilly adds much-needed levity to the intensity of the big-budget fight sequences, which are well-executed, if gruesome.

The actors are all talented, though Hiddleston seems like a slightly odd choice for his role. Yes, he plays Loki, but his name isn't exactly synonymous with action flicks, and there are times he seems too posh to be believable as a shady tracker battling serious demons. Among the supporting cast, Toby Kebbell's terrible Southern accent is somewhat distracting. But Shea Whigham and Jason Mills stand out as opposites-attract soldiers Cole and Mills, who have each other's backs. With so many more human characters, it's unsurprising that Kong himself is less "human" and more awesome, godly beast. For high-stakes, jump-out-of-your-seat popcorn fare, this will do the trick, but don't expect to feel quite as much for Kong as you might have in previous versions of the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Kong: Skull Island. How does it compare to previous King Kong movies? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?

  • What's the movie's message about offensive vs. defensive war? Is Kong justified in his actions? Is Packard?

  • How does the movie convey the importance of courage and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

  • The movie pays tribute to several Vietnam War-themed films. Do you think that conflict is relevant to younger viewers? Teens: Do you want to learn more about it because of the movie?

Movie details

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