TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies #255: Kong: Skull Island



Kong Skull Island poster.jpg


A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites 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.


The King Kong movies have definitely varied in quality, the original 1933 movie is still the definitive classic version, the 1976 version is pretty lackluster as is the 1986 sequel, King Kong Lives, I really loved the 2005 Peter Jackson version even though a lot of people really don’t. So, where does this new Kong fare up?

Kind of in the middle…I’ll put it this way, when King Kong and the creatures take the stage, the movie is insanely good fun but when the actors are on screen, that’s where a lot of the big problems come into play.

Let’s start with those negatives first. Wow, the actors are wasted on this movie. You’ve got an excellent cast in this, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann, John C. Reilly, this is a really good cast in this movie and a lot of them are just kind of bland and forgettable mostly because of the script.

Tom Hiddleston’s character in this is essentially the generic good guy action hero with a cliché riddled storyline, his character in this shouldn’t have even be named James Conrad, his name should’ve been Gene Eric Gaguy because he has no personality to him at all in this. Brie Larson is essentially this film’s equivalent of April O’Neill, she’s only there to be the damsel in distress and to be the outsider because she’s a woman and a photographer. Samuel L. Jackson’s character in this is the worst written character in this because he changes his tone throughout the course of the entire movie to the point where he literally becomes the real villain in this plus he’s only there to just be Sam Jackson and say one liners, there’s even a point where they make him repeat one of his lines from Jurassic Park and they force it in there in the worst way possible. Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are wasted on this, there’s an Asian character in this who’s completely pointless, she’s only here to appeal to the international audiences of the film. No, really, she serves no purpose to this film at all except to be the love interest for Corey Hawkins’ character, that’s it. A good majority of the characters in this are badly written, at least the characters in Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Jurassic World were at least tolerable, a good majority of them in this are horrendously handled, and that leads into the biggest problem with the movie.

The script is terrible, this is a god-awful script because the characters are written in this horribly, the setups in this are badly set up, they are trying to cram in lines in this for people to remember, pointless characters who are only here to just be quirky and cliché riddled, them trying to set up running gags and recurring lines that do not work at all and those elements really take the movie down considerably.

I also hate how this movie is shot, there are too many pointless symbolic shots in this, when they are using the slides and then a new slide comes up, they cut to the machine with this booming sound of doom playing every time a new slide changes. When they’re fling into the island, they keep cutting back to this Richard Nixon bobblehead. They keep zooming in on King Kong’s eyes like they’re suppose to mean something. What is the point of these shots? Why are you doing this? Stop turning into Terrence Malick and Tarsem Singh and give me a reason why you are doing this because none of this ever makes a damn difference in this movie.

With that said, I do have my positives. Although I criticized the characters for how they were acted and being written, the actors are definitely trying to work the mediocre material given to them and the overall acting is just okay. The only actors I really liked throughout were John Goodman, I thought he was fun to watch seeing him do sort of a more menacing John Hammond type character in this, and, surprisingly, John C. Reilly. Yeah, the guy that everybody thought was going to be this film’s equivalent of Jar Jar Lex Luthor was surprisingly one of the stronger characters in this and actually got a lot of the more funnier moments in the film. Reilly legitimately gets some good decent laughs in this and his performance is mostly toned down in a way where it’s not ridiculously over the top. The only other characters I kind of liked are Jason Mitchell and Thomas Mann mostly because they are the only two people in this who should be having the right reactions after getting attacked by a fucking giant monkey. I swear to god, everybody else in this acts way too calm and collected, you should not be acting like everything is all hunky dory like you’ve seen this shit before.

But let’s be really honest here, the only reason you’re going to see this movie is to see King Kong kick so much ass and you know what, King Kong kicks so much ass in this movie. This isn’t like in Godzilla where Godzilla only shows up for a total of 10 minutes of an over 2 hour movie. No, you get King Kong for a good majority of this movie and when he shows up on screen, he commands the screen, whether it’s an action scene or just a simple scene, Kong shines when he’s on screen. The mocap work is nicely done, this is Terry Notary, who has mocap work and stunt work for movies all the way back to The Grinch, he’s excellent in this and you can tell he took a lot from Andy Serkis, which makes sense because Notary also did the Planet Of The Apes movies. But the scenes with Kong in this are spectacular, the action scenes are nicely done and even the quieter moments like Kong just walking around on the island are really great to watch. There’s even one shot where you see Hiddleston and Larson on the side of a cliff with this dense fog all around and you can tell Kong is here but just seeing his eyes in the fog and it looks amazing, that was actually the best scene in the movie where it’s just the three of them sharing a scene.

How do you best describe Kong: Skull Island? It’s not a movie that’s worth checking out over and over again, it’s not the best representation of King Kong in film but I do think you should check it out on the big screen and you’ll get your money’s worth. After that, just wait for it to come on FX in three years…although, Godzilla has been playing on TBS & TNT recently so who knows, maybe Kong will end up on there…but other than that, just wait for Blu-Ray or TV.

The acting is okay but the characters are badly written mostly because the script is so lousy, the action sequences are very good, Kong carries the film when he shows up on screen. It’s a mixed bag movie, if you’re looking for just a good fun over the top monster movie, then by all means, check it out. If you want some character development, you will not find it here. Whatever your poison is, pick it and decide for yourself, Me personally, the movie is just okay, just set this up so we can get that Godzilla vs. King Kong movie in 2020 already.

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Posted in TATM: Talkin' About The Movies

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