Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

img_3276Courtesy IMDb: A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.


 

Cheap thrills, compounded by bad decisions, surrounded by people you’d rather forget, Kong: Skull Island is basically Spring Break at Myrtle Beach.


I certainly wasn’t expecting a masterpiece with Kong: Skull Island. The first entry in Warner Bros. new giant monster universe was Gareth Edwards Godzilla (2014) which was an uneven popcorn flick that found a way to be entertaining, despite an underwhelming story and forgettable characters. Although it did end on a very strong note I have to say. My expectations were slightly higher with Kong, hoping they’d improve on the mistakes that kept Godzilla from being a classic.

Instead director Jordan Vogt-Roberts  chose to accentuate the flaws from Godzilla and ensure that despite a great cast and much promise we would leave Skull Island feeling like we wasted our time. Big Monsters, big explosions, big disappointment 

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The Characters

Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly….

That’s a snippet of a pretty stellar and recognizable cast for Kong: Skull Island.  Unfortunately it doesn’t matter, because as you would expect from a movie centered around a giant ape the characters aren’t the focal point of the production. In fact, the only reason A-List actors are attached to this film is to sell tickets and certainly not to add anything to overall quality of this movie. The talents of this cast are wasted on pointless, uninteresting, underdeveloped characters that aren’t very likable in the first place. In fact, without looking at IMDb I can’t even remember the names of any of the characters. To be fair, this problem might not have been so glaring if they had hired mostly unknowns for these roles and while I didn’t find any of the back stories interesting they at least tried to throw something together. Not only are most of them Monkey fodder but I really wanted most of them to die. The banter between Cole and Mills, the supposed comic relief of this band of nitwits, have an ongoing dialogue throughout this film designed to add levity, but the inconsistency in which most of their unfunny jokes land had me hoping one of them would be the first victim of Skull Island. I won’t spoil their fate but I can tell you it wasn’t decided early enough in the film.

John C. Reilly’s character Hank Marlow is a WW2 fighter pilot who’s been stranded on Skull Island for decades. Although annoying at times, Hank manages to be the most interesting character of this film despite the fact his entire purpose is to serve as an English speaking Maguffin to  further the flimsy plot and help the viewers understand the hierarchy of Skull Island

King Kong is the star of this show however, and while the heart and emotion presented in Peter Jacksons King Kong is missing in Skull Island, this big ass monkey is more than adequate for this film. Much bigger and visually intimidating than the Kongs from previous installments he certainly makes for a big screen spectacle and a worthy eventual adversary for Godzilla. The fight scenes in this film are on par with what you would expect and fairly entertaining overall.

The Story

The story isn’t horrible. In fact the first ten minutes of the movie had me mildly interested. Not only do the writers concoct a valid reason and motivation for visiting Skull Island but the lore they create around the island itself as an unreachable frontier surrounded by a perpetual storm is pretty cool.

As you see in the trailers there is an epic throw down between Kong and some helicopters. You see him hurling trees like missiles at the annoying war machines. This part of the film is one of the strongest and is classic B Movie monster action with modern effects. However, from that point on the movie turns into a survival flick which usually I’m game for. This time it doesn’t work. Imagine a less interesting version of the Predator except all the characters are so pointless you pull for monster.

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Final Thoughts

Look, I know this movie was created as a fun, dumb big screen spectacle and not a character driven masterpiece. However by hiring an amazing cast I was under the impression that some story and emotion would be infused into the movie. When I realized early on that wasn’t the case I let go of that idea and willingly went along with watching a fun action flick. Unfortunately it wasn’t fun for me either. Maybe I’m salty for some reason but Kong: Skull Island fell flat for me. There are a few moments cool enough for me to recommend watching it at least once but don’t commit much to this film. Watch it without spending as much of your money as possible.

I give Kong: Skull Island a 5 out of 10

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