Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

Landon Santini 
lbs001@marietta.edu

Image from www.wikipedia.com.

This week, we’ll be looking at the 2017 monster film Kong: Skull Island directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. This is now the second film in Legendary Picture’s official MonsterVerse following 2014’s Godzilla. In this film, we have a group of scientists, and some soldiers who are sent to investigate an uncharted known as Skull Island. Of course, when they get there, there’s a whole lot of monsters, a big giant ape also known as Kong, and John C. Reilly. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the giant ape. But as their mission becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Honestly, I don’t know why Hollywood even did this reboot. There are some really impressive action sequences in this film. When King Kong punches things, it is entertaining. Kong is a big gigantic monster having fights with other big gigantic monsters, and it looks cool. But unfortunately, that’s about the best this film has to offer. The characters that populate this film are just downright hollow, boring, bland shells of human beings. They are ultimately just expendable “nothings” thrown into the script so that Kong can probably kill them and the audience will not care.

Tom Hiddleston’s character James Conrad is introduced in a bar in a rather poorly edited sequence, fights with a pool stick . . . He’s presented as a cool guy who knows how to track animals and scents. And so they ask him to go to this island. There’s one scene where he has a heart to heart with Brie Larson’s character Mason Weaver, where he mentions something that happened once in his past, and that’s really all it is.

Brie Larson’s character, Mason Weaver, is a photographer. She’s seen a lot, and she’s taken photos of all of it. Besides that, Weaver is as bland as a single slice of Wonder Bread. However, there are at least two interesting characters in this film. They are Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard, and John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow. Hank has been on this island for quite some time, and we learn a lot about his backstory. There is a giant exposition scene where Marlow takes the characters a large room with paintings and hieroglyphics just so he can tell them his history and the history of this island. Packard, on the other hand, has an agenda. You can tell that as a character, he doesn’t feel alive unless he’s at war or has some orders. So he makes up this big vendetta, (which I won’t spoil for you). But his character was intriguing, nonetheless.

The film’s remaining characters, on the other hand, are just attractive people who can run in slow motion and throw grenades. Toby Kebbell’s character of Jack Chapman has a son at home who he writes to, so I guess there was some depth there. But for the most part, the characters in this film are a major disappointment. Now let’s talk about the setting, otherwise known as Skull Island. I was so excited to see what they would do with this location. Although, much like the characters, the film’s setting was a bit of a letdown. Even though they shot a good portion of this film on-location, there are entire sequences that just look like they were shot in a green screen room. For example, in the third act, there is a sequence where Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are standing in front of King Kong in between him and Samuel L. Jackson. The entire scene looks like something from one of the Star Wars prequels.

I simply could not believe what I was looking at. IT was very, very distracting and at times it felt out of place. The film was often trying to be a 1970s war film, but it just did not mesh with the world that the film was trying to build. Furthermore, since all the characters were horribly bland, I just felt little emotional attachment to anyone.

Lastly, let’s talk about the directing and the editing. It’s rather bad. In fact, it’s distractingly bad. All of the sequences where King Kong is causing destruction are filmed in an epic wide shot which goes for a long time, and it’s really entertaining. However, when it comes to character scenes, there is a very abrasive, almost visually aggressive way that this film is edited together, and it got on my nerves very quickly. Tonally speaking, the film is completely off as well.

The attempts at humor fall flat in almost all respects. John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson evoke a couple of good laughs here and there, and it’s basically because these two talented actors are bringing their own personal charisma and projecting it onto some very stilted dialogue. The sequences where Brie Larson is trying to connect with Kong emotionally just feel out of left field. And then there’s a lot of slow motion and fast motion that reminded me of the way that Michael Bay directs action films. I’m not exaggerating. This film was a major disappointment for me. I didn’t like a single character in the film. Kong had one really awesome fight scene, but beyond that, it felt like an attempt to “ape” the Marvel Routine. It felt like a big attempt to recreate the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m just simply not buying it. So as such, I’m going to give this film a score of 2.5 out of 5.

Movie Review, Opinion, Reviews