In a cast that includes Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson, there's no question that this guy is the star. There is no Kong: Skull Island without a Kong, which means that the design of the monster makes or breaks the movie. Progress dictates that the wizards behind the newest King Kong movie (out Mar. 10) had more advanced technology available to them than any of their predecessors. So you may be wondering how exactly they created the lonely god who lives on that remote island. Here's what you need to know about how Kong from Skull Island was made and what inspired his look.
According to ScreenRant, this Kong came to life through a combination of techniques. Actor Toby Kebbell gave a motion capture performance as the gigantic ape, and then CGI effects did the rest of the job. (Kebbell actually did double duty in Kong; he plays military man Jack Chapman as well.) Kong was realized by the expertise of Industrial Light & Magic, the effects company founded by George Lucas and the creative force behind franchises like Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Pirates Of The Caribbean and, of course, Star Wars.
Though some of Kong's movements and expressions were the result of a human performance, that doesn't mean the other actors were always able to shoot their scenes opposite Kebbell. Cleveland.com reported on a roundtable with some of the cast of Skull Island, where they talked about the challenges of reacting to a tennis ball instead of a man-eating, maybe-prehistoric monster. Larson, who plays photographer Mason Weaver, said that she often had to ask director Jordan Vogt-Roberts about Kong's current state of mind so that her performance matched it. He's far from a one-note character, and it's essential that the audience understands the difference between an angry Kong and one that's in pain. "You have really weird conversations with your director that are different than other films," Larson said.
Kong was created through techniques that are familiar to modern movie audiences. But the design of the creature was actually inspired by his roots. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Vogt-Roberts said that he looked back at the original black-and-white King Kong film when envisioning his star. "We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours," the director said. Also, he put an emphasis on minimalism to keep his Kong easily recognizable as the timeless movie monster. "I had a mandate that I wanted a kid to be able to doodle him on the back of a piece of homework and for his shapes to be simple and hopefully iconic enough that, like, a third grader could draw that shape and you would know what it is," Vogt-Roberts told Entertainment Weekly.
So, this particular Kong is a marriage of state-of-the-art visual effects and a pared-down, vintage design. Does the titular star of Kong: Skull Island work for you?