A number of Hollywood studios are currently playing in the superhero sandbox, but Legendary Pictures has found its niche in the form of the giant monster movie. This year, they have Jurassic World arriving in theaters, with other projects such as Pacific Rim 2 and Kong: Skull Island coming through the pipeline.
In the case of the latter, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has been assembling a very noteworthy cast to go on an adventure to King Kong's residence. Fan-favorite actors Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) have already come on board, and they could be joined by another high profile name very soon. That would be none other than Michael Keaton.
Deadline is reporting that the actor is in the process of finalizing a deal for a role in the film, but it is unknown what exactly that part is. In all likelihood, Keaton is probably being signed to play an explorer in the human ensemble, as was the case with Hiddleston and Simmons earlier.
Keaton has been enjoying a career resurgence recently thanks to his acclaimed performance in Birdman, which has become a major player on the awards circuit this year. It's nice to see him parlaying his return to the spotlight by securing a role in a studio tentpole, where he's he had success before (Batman). And given that he is a multitalented thespian, he'll be able to bring a heavy dose of gravitas to the project.
Since Skull Island doesn't open until 2017, not much is known about its narrative at this juncture. The little we are aware of indicates that the film will be a prequel that explores the origins of the titular giant ape "in an entirely new, distinct timeline." From that wording, it would seem that the movie will operate as a reboot of sorts (with future sequels perhaps following), but it could end up having some connections to other Kong films.
While the main story beats are still largely a mystery for now, the casting provides some strong signs in regards to its potential quality. Both Keaton and Simmons are riding waves of Oscar buzz as we progress through awards season, and Hiddleston is one of the most famous faces in the ultra-popular Marvel Cinematic Universe. If anything, their willingness to participate in Skull Island lends some kind of credibility to what Universal/Legendary is trying to achieve.
And honestly, that can be a helpful tool for the studio at this stage in the film's development. Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of the original film was a box office success, but the overall opinion surrounding it was mixed, and there could be a certain segment of moviegoers questioning the need for another story in this particular world. Even though Legendary is promising to honor the history of the brand with this new take, actually going out and showing audiences how that'll happen is more important.
With Keaton possibly on board, there's no denying the strength of the cast, as all the actors taking part are more than capable of delivering a terrific performance. The real question will be how effective the script and the final product is. Godzilla writer Max Borenstein wrote an earlier draft (before the Oscar-nominated John Gatins came in for rewrites), and Vogt-Roberts earned some attention for his feature, Kings of Summer. From where we stand, King Kong appears to be in good hands for his next cinematic adventure.
Kong: Skull Island will be in theaters March 10, 2017.
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