Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Genre:Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Corey Hawkins
Kong: Skull Island is about a group of people (scientists and military) going to Skull Island on a uncharted research mission. What do they find there on that island? Among other things, King Kong. Let the adventure ensue!
When this film was first announced, I was curious although a bit annoyed because Peter Jackson made a decent King Kong movie barely a decade ago. They clearly made this film to set up their coming Monsterverse. A world filled with gigantic monsters that apparently nobody ever sees and lives to tell. I heard the stories and read reviews about this film being terrible, filled with flaws. However, sometimes you need to go see a film and make your judgement based on what you feel. I did that on Tuesday and I’m here to tell you that Kong: Skull Island isn’t a terrible film, but it sure is flawed.
What I Didn’t Like
For those of you who didn’t know, I very much enjoyed Godzilla (2014) and since this is meant to link a whole collected universe together. I’m going to talk a lot about that film as well. Godzilla was not without flaws of course (Especially the script.), but I found it beautifully done and superbly directed (with maybe one exception). It brought Godzilla back to mainstream in a big way. (Didn’t do terrible at the box-office either.)
Kong: Skull Island suffers from several of the same issues as Godzilla. The biggest being the script and the characters it creates. The script of Godzilla was mediocre at best and cheesy at worst. Kong: Skull Island has a lot more cheese (I’m talking that trashy artificial cheese ).
A major issue with the film was that they tried to shove humor into the movie far too much. A lot of that humor completely misses the mark and feels at times insensitive. I like a film that has situational humor. Admit you are making a darker film, but let the funny moments come naturally.
Going back to Godzilla, the characters were bland with the exception of Bryan Cranston, but I understood their motives. Cranston was excellent and really raised the level of the film. Meanwhile, the other characters were serviceable.
Kong: Skull Island was all of this and more. Samuel L. Jackson’s character had some depth, but he played the same guy he plays in nearly every film. Sometimes that really works well, but this one was kind of goofy. (Minor spoiler- He had that whole Moby Dick madness going on.) Think of any character he has ever played and multiply that intensity and silliness by ten. John Goodman wasn’t terrible in the film, but he was clearly there to explain things and nothing more. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson were alright, but they occasionally had an unconvincing line or two.
This film took some of the tone and even scenes/deaths from Jurassic World (2015) which as you know ripped off Jurassic Park (1993). The violence was surprisingly brutal which can be appreciated, but again was undercut by poor attempts at humor. Be dark and reflective of the early post-Vietnam era, but let that resonate instead of watering down with forced comic relief.
I hate when just about every character that dies has next to no emotional impact. They were alive in this film only to die. In Godzilla, when certain people were threatened or died, I cared a lot more. There was some emotional investment in them. Kong lacked all of this. There are several secondary characters that are as useless can be. They would have been better disappearing in the first act.. They offer no emotional input to the point of frustration.
Repeating my biggest complaint. The film can’t figure its tone, at times it is very dark and violent. Other times humorous, almost as if a spoof of a big monster movie. This film did a terrible job with timing. It took the sting out of a variety of otherwise intense scenes.
I won’t go into detail, but there were mechanical and physical issues that were very much flawed throughout this film. Things that didn’t make sense, little details that were missed over overlooked out of apathy.
The plot was predictable to the point of it being a flaw. I understand that we all come in with a sense of what is going to happen. It is a big monster film after all, but this took that to new limits. Everything plays out exactly as you think it will minus a small moment or two.
What I Did Like
While this film didn’t have the stunning artistic mastery featured in Godzilla, there were moments (screenshots) of pure fantastic artwork/CGI. There were some incredibly awesome scenes scattered about this film. (Not enough of them, but the few you get are great.)
John C. Reilly was by far the best performance in the film. I loved his character, if any humor really worked, it was when he was around. He was the only person I wound up caring about. (I’m warming to Mr. Reilly. He continues to impress me in some of his more recent roles.)
King Kong looked good and they handled his reveal well in the film (Though it was spoiled some in trailers.) When Kong was on screen, he was interesting. There was action to be had and you wondered what was going to come next.
The final act was predictable, but very entertaining. The action was crisp and while it may not make you think the film was a good movie. You probably won’t walk out of it before it is over either.
I must add that Kong does have a better soundtrack than Godzilla (2014). Then again, I love Rock and Roll from that era so I’m always going to respond positive to it.
After some discussion, i decided to add that this film does bring up the feel of a post-Vietnam war era. A sense of defeat and confusion as to what lay ahead. Brutal and ominous, it had some remarkable similarities to Apocalypse Now (It that was a B-Movie). There were times I was quoting Apocalypse Now under my breath during this film.
In the end, Kong: Skull Island was serviceable. It enlightened viewers to the world where this Monsterverse takes place. It adds depth to the various theories and opportunities for the future films. The action was sweet and John C. Reilly really helped make the film tolerable. However, it is not a film you need to see more than once. I would recommend waiting for it to stream or Blu-ray. If you do see it, go at a discount and try not to think too much during it.
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (2005)
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
King Kong (1976)
King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)