Kong displays monstrous creatures, action-packed fighting scenes
Although he is an icon of the movie industry, the last time King Kong was seen on screen was in Peter Jackson’s 2005 positively-received (but lengthy) remake of the original. Kong: Skull Island is only loosely based on the movies that precede it; the only thing similar between them is the ape (and the island) itself.
Kong’s size is the most significant change director Jordan Vogt-Roberts makes to the character. Boasting a height more than three times larger than his previous incarnations, Kong towers over the humans (and the scenery) in the movie. If he were to attempt to hang on to the Empire State Building, it would collapse.
Although Kong is by far the most compelling part of Skull Island, the island itself is full of mystery and danger. No character can go five minutes without discovering a gargantuan version of regular animals (like spiders, stick bugs, and squids), or “Skull-Crawlers,” giant lizards that form the main opposition to the explorers.
Both Kong and these creatures feel real; the visuals were never jarring or out of place. Since the island is full of odd-looking beasts, the movie gets away with not having perfect CGI constructions based entirely on reality.
All the best parts of Skull Island come when Kong interacts with the other monsters on the island. We learn early on in the movie that he does not pick fights with humans unless they attack him, and goes so far as to fight off the vicious Skull-Crawlers to protect the main characters. Watching a mountain-tall gorilla eat a giant squid’s tentacle-like spaghetti after a tense action scene is exhilarating, and there are many more scenes of the same nature.
Unfortunately, the movie still has to spend time on the explorers of Skull Island. The plot feels like just a way to get the action to the viewer; it offers no substance, and barely any character development.
The movie takes place in the ‘70s, which the audience is constantly reminded of. Many scenes are set to popular songs during that time, including Ziggy Stardust and Run Through the Jungle. There are references to Nixon, including a bobble head of him played for laughs.
The first 20 minutes or so focus on the expedition to the island, and establishing who our main players are. There’s John Goodman, who plays a government official desperate to get to the island to uncover whatever mystery lies there. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson play a hunter-tracker and photographer, respectively; both speak out against the attacks on Kong early, and spend pretty much all of the movie together.
And then there’s Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a U.S. Lieutenant Colonel who didn’t want the Vietnam war to end. He functions as the primary villain, which makes sense because, as menacing as they are, giant lizards lack the ability to act or give monologues (which Jackson does several times). His character and dialogue is clichéd and boring; he’s the war veteran who picks a fight with Kong just for the sake of it.
None of the characters mentioned above experience any change during the course of the movie. They foster no interesting side-plots or backstories; they exist simply to be the eyes and ears of the audience.
This would be fine, if the movie didn’t insist on spending so much time solely with them. Every minute they are on-screen and not exploring the world around them, the film drags.
Junior Matthew Sue spoke about what he did not like about this movie.
“This was an interesting movie, at first the movie had a pretty good plot and I enjoyed it a lot,” Sue said. “Later on the movie started to get kind of stupid, and there were several plot holes. In addition to this there were several scenes that were just absurd, such as when a character ran through poisonous gas with a katana, slicing flying monsters in half.”
If you can sit through these monotonous scenes to get to the monster fights, then Kong: Skull Island will not disappoint you. If the notion of massive monsters fighting each other in front of a scenic backdrop doesn’t appeal to you, then this movie has no redeeming qualities.
For Kong: Skull Island showtimes near you, visit Fandango.
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