Kong: Skull Island - The Official Movie Novelization
Kong: Skull Island - The Official Movie Novelization is a novelization of Legendary Pictures' Kong: Skull Island, and was released on March 14, 2017. The book was written by Tim Lebbon and published by Titan Books.
"In March 2017, the producers of Godzilla transport audiences to the birthplace of one of the most powerful monster myths of all in KONG: SKULL ISLAND, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures.
When a scientific expedition to an uncharted island awakens titanic forces of nature, a mission of discovery becomes an explosive war between monster and man. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly star in a thrilling and original new adventure that reveals the untold story of how Kong became King."
Differences from the Film
- Houston Brooks and William Randa share a scene in a car before they arrive at the U.S. Capitol. Among the sights they comment on are a long, unruly line at a gas station and a movie theater marquee modified to read Deliverence from Nixon!
- Randa has leverage over Senator Willis in the form of the "drug-taking and decadent parties" they both enjoyed in college.
- The senator has a more specific reaction to Randa's photo of the Castle Bravo test: "That creature has never been proven to be anything other than a whale blown up by the blast. It’s a fairytale."
- Mason Weaver's narration explains that she had a demanding but loving father who ran her house in the style of a "benevolent dictatorship." Weaver's father tried to mold his only child into the kind of person he wanted to be himself but she could never live up to his expectations, and he forgot to consider what she wanted. Six months after her father passed away when she was 16, Weaver went off to college, but ever since her father's death she's been searching for something and someplace that she couldn't find, and would only feel close to finding them when looking through a camera lens. Her father's misguided treatment of her left Mason with feelings of insecurity and a desire to live in the background that plague her through her teen years and well into adulthood.
- Weaver's use of her camera as a metaphorical barrier from the events around her is a recurring theme, and Weaver's way of removing herself from the world so that she can't fail at anything. Weaver's narration says that she doesn't usually get involved with the subjects she photographs as her job is all about getting the best pictures, and only to record and share them and prompt action and understanding with them.
- Jerry, who tips Weaver off to the Skull Island expedition over the phone, is presented as an international man of mystery, a European journalist with vast connections and an impenetrable past.
- Weaver sometimes enjoys the surprise her first name causes some people to have when they meet her after assuming she's a man but despite being used to the casual discrimination she suffers on the job, it mostly angers her that most people expect the women to stay home and "keep the bed warm" while the men go out and fight.
- Weaver was embedded with the Command & Control South (CCS) detachment of MACV-SOG in Ban Me Thuot.
- James Conrad left the British Special Forces after a mission from the Malaysian government eight years prior. He and five others were tasked with rescuing Jenny, the seven-year-old daughter of a Malaysian woman and a British embassy worker, from a "rogue unit" of Indonesian soldiers holding her for ransom. As they approached the border, an ambush killed two of his men and Jenny; when he examined the wound in her head, he realized that it was from a sniper rifle. They were not meant to succeed. Afterwards, Conrad lost faith in his country, government, and himself and he would accept freelance missions only as long as he felt the odds were in his favor. After meeting Kong, Weaver is the first person that Conrad tells what happened.
- Randa had been drawn to the intersection of science and myth since childhood. He was bullied as a kid for his outlandish theories. As a soldier stationed in North Africa and Italy during World War II, he earned the nickname Prof, spending his downtime researching the history and local legends of the places his unit visited. That interest became a full-blown obsession once he was sent to the Pacific theater.
- Randa is furious at Weaver's presence on the expedition; she got the job without a background check after Chim, a journalist "in Randa's pocket," dropped out at the last minute. He also hates Preston Packard for looking down on anyone who's not in uniform.
- There is a clear attraction between Weaver and Conrad that starts after their first conversation and grows throughout the book.
- When talking about the mysteries of Skull Island, Randa says, "There's even talk of a movie crew disappearing here in thirty-three," a clear reference to the original King Kong film.
- Following Kong's battle against the expedition's helicopters, Conrad is attacked by a sixty-foot snake while trying to get to higher ground. It nearly constricts him to death, but he is able to kill it with his knife.
- Kong uses dirt to put out the fires caused by the helicopter crashes.
- Conrad observes the tracks of a feline or canine he estimates to be at least one-and-a-half meters long, although the creature itself is never seen.
- Conrad's party encounters a carnivorous plant with several dead animals inside, including "a wasp the size of Weaver’s hand."
- The Iwi told Hank Marlow that the Monarch expedition was coming two days before they arrived.
- The creatures Kong defends Skull Island from are more diverse than just the Skullcrawlers. The Iwi paintings depict "[g]iant reptilian beasts, one with three heads. A crocodile fifty feet long. Snake-like monsters, slinking from holes in the ground and snapping towards the sun. Web-footed creatures, spikes along their backs spearing bloodied human shapes, diving into the ocean surrounding the island."
- Marlow calls the largest Skullcrawler the Skull Devil. In the film, he only calls it "the big one."
- Skullcrawlers can mimic human cries; Gunpei was killed by one after he and Marlow thought they heard an Iwi child scream in the distance and went to rescue them.
- Lin San and Brooks try to steal a sample of a mysterious liquid from a well inside the Wanderer. An Iwi girl catches them in the act immediately and they flee with the Iwi in pursuit, leading to a more dramatic departure from the village that almost ends in violence. Marlow persuades them to let the Grey Fox leave.
- The Spore Mantis is much more aggressive towards Chapman. As in the movie, the arrival of the Skullcrawler causes it to leave, but here Colonel Packard is on the radio with Chapman when he is killed and Packard decides not to tell his men about it.
- One of the songs Slivko plays on his record player is "Fly Me to the Moon," giving the book a second, perhaps unintentional, Neon Genesis Evangelion reference.
- The Grey Fox is attacked by a Leafwing that goes after Slivko twice. San saves him with Marlow's katana, and Conrad shoots the monster in the eye.
- Packard watches Kong trigger a rockslide to bury a Skullcrawler whole.
- During the boneyard battle, Marlow stabs the Skullcrawler in what he thinks is its eye, but then it opens up the real pair and knocks him aside. San notices that they have gills, indicating that they could leave Skull Island and menace the outside world. Conrad throws his father's lighter instead of Weaver.
- The full name "King Kong" is used several times later in the book.
- Cole gets the Skull Devil's attention with a grenade launcher. Instead of being tail-whipped into a cliff, his sacrifice play with the grenades works perfectly, but it merely stuns the monster.
- All of Weaver’s film cartridges are ruined by her fall into the water during the final battle.
- Brooks explicitly offers Weaver and Conrad jobs at Monarch in their last scene.
- Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan are not mentioned in the novelization's depiction of the post-credits scene. Instead, Brooks' slideshow is described as follows: "Some of them were recognizable – he saw a Kong-like figure battling a giant winged beast. Others were far more mysterious. A huge lizard on its hind legs, at war with a giant dragonfly. A hammer-headed beast in combat with a many-tailed, skeletal bird."
- Just before Marlow reunites with his family, he recalls a night with Gunpei where they each talk about their most frightening moment on Skull Island following a Skullcrawler attack on the Iwi village. Gunpei’s answer: "The one just before [Kong] appeared, when I almost murdered my best friend."
- Kong enters the final battle on all fours instead of jumping in.
- The Skull Devil has a bladed tail and uses it to cut Kong.
- Instead of the Skull Devil pulling Kong's arm down its throat and being eviscerated, Kong punches down the Skull Devil's throat and kills it by crushing its organs.
- It's implied between Conrad and Marlow that the Skull Devil appears because it sensed that Kong was down.
- Kong kills the Mire Squid by biting into its mantle and tearing it apart.
- After leaving the Iwi village, Conrad's group is attacked by a Mire Squid that menaces Slivko.
- Conrad guesses that Weaver follows all of the bad things that go on in the world because they make her feel like a good person. Weaver believes her father still wouldn't be proud of her for that, and Conrad tells Weaver she should try to please herself and stop trying to please her father.
- While he and Weaver are face to face with Kong, Conrad's narration explains that he sees a glimmer of his past self as he looks into Kong's eyes.
- When Weaver and Conrad stand between Kong and Packard, Weaver tells Packard that if he kills Kong then he'll have to kill her too. She also says that she spent the last six years taking pictures of nothing but death and destruction.
- Conrad runs over to Kong after the Skull Devil is killed. Then Kong kneels before Conrad, lowers his fist to the ground and opens it to reveal an awake Weaver to Conrad.
- Kong’s wounds from Packard’s napalm trap are more severe as some patches of his fur are completely burnt off, exposing flesh underneath.
- The giant snake featured in this novelization may be included as a reference to the many snake-like creatures that have appeared in prior King Kong films, such as the Elasmosaurus from the original film, the Giant Sea Serpent from King Kong Escapes and the Giant Boa from the 1976 remake.
- The novelization includes a possible allusion to King Ghidorah that was also included in the film's script but not the finished product, in the form of a three-headed creature depicted in the murals inside the Wanderer.
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