Kong: Skull Island - 2017
Kong: Skull Island marks the eight-feature length film for one of the original movie monsters, King Kong. Ever since his debut back in 1933, filmmakers have been striving to capture the magical essence of Kong’s coming-out party. Skull island is set in the back drop of the Vietnam war, as a team of scientist explore an uncharted island in the Pacific.
Back in 2014, Warner Brothers trusted independent filmmaker Gareth Edwards to jump start their movie monster universe with Godzilla. With Kong, it wasn’t any different, tapping independent filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts to make his first IP-blockbuster. Vogt-Roberts gave Kong a unique style, trying to mix the conventional blockbuster look and his own vision. There are a lot of clever use of POV shots, putting the audience behind the sight of the soldier’s gun as they are fighting the monsters of the island. Along with the POV shots, he beautifully captures all the landscapes of the island, having many shots look like a tourism add for skull island.
I’m going to say this right off the top, before I get in to the meat of my review, this movie was straight-up fun, but it had a lot of flaws. So, my goal in the following paragraphs below will be to mention a flaw of the movie and contrast it with something fun they gave the audience in return.
Despite having an incredible main cast (Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson), the characters are incredibly under-written. The characters all can be easily describe and none of them have a true arc in the movie. Hiddleston plays a gun for hire, roped into an adventure he doesn’t know anything about due to his greed. Goodman plays the scientist that knows the truth and is ignored until it’s too late. Larson plays a photographer and that’s pretty much it and Jackson plays the military head that is hell set on killing the monster, even though his army was destroyed.
With the main cast being underwhelming, it let the supporting cast shine, led by John C. Reilly. Reilly stole every single scene he was in as he plays a WW2 pilot marooned on skull island for twenty-eight years. He jumped between being the comedic relief an being the soul of the movie. His performance was natural allowing the audience to connect with him rather than the main characters. I found myself wondering what his character was doing whenever he wasn’t on screen.
The beginning of the movie was too convoluted and exposition heavy. They took us to six different locations just to sell us on the idea as to why they needed to be on that island. Honestly, we bought a ticket to see a movie called Kong: Skull Island, we already knew we were going to an island just take us there from the very beginning and let us enjoy the none-stop monster action.
Once we are on the island we get exactly what I was expecting coming into the movie. Once we are on the island the story structure is straight-forward and compelling enough to keep the audience engaged. The best sequence in the entire movie is when the helicopters arrive to the island and encounter Kong for the first time. Vogt-Roberts effectively utilized slow-motion shots mixed in with the fast paste action sequence of Kong taking down the entire helicopter squadron.
The creature design for the Skullcrawlers (name provided by Reilly’s character), our main “bad-guys” in the island, wasn’t creative and felt underwhelming. Having free range to create a cool looking monster (since they didn’t utilize the classic nemesis of Kong), they went with a very generic giant lizard monster. They are build up to be a terrifying killing force that is only kept in check by Kong, but they never live up to fear Reilly and the island natives have towards them. Now in complete contrast, Kong’s design was great keeping in line with the classic look from the original while adding more size and power. Kong dominated the screen and you can believe this gorilla can take on Godzilla in the future.
Overall this movie was fun and had a lot of potential to be a great addition to the monster movie universe. Despite all its flaws I walked away enjoying the final product and excited for the next movies to come, as they are planning to put him up against more monsters. I watched a movie in where I was rooting for a giant gorilla to win against a giant lizard… this is why I love movies.
Kong; Skull Island is worth a watch in theaters (a huge gorilla on your TV won’t be as effective).
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