Quick Hit: A thrilling monster mash, this movie is high on the monster mash and the imagery surrounding it, but low on plot and characterization.
I’ve always said you have to temper your expectations to what a movie is trying to do. Some movies, like “B horror”, aren’t trying to make an Oscar winning masterpiece. They’re just trying to make a film that will get some laughs and some grimaces. I think there are mainstream examples of this as well – and today’s film Kong: Skull Island was that for me.
A lot of the characters get lost in the funk in this movie. Samuel L. Jackson is a captain, John Goodman is a scientist, Brie Larson is a photograph, Tom Hiddleston is a guide… they’re pretty much only defined by their jobs. Sure they have stock “goals” – “I want to end the war and expose it as bad” says Larson in a terrible paraphrasing of what she actually says. But the good thing is, this movie isn’t really about the characters (outside of maybe one) – more on him later. It’s about a freaking huge ape that fights other giant monsters on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Kong is awesome in this movie. He immediately dwarfs everything in sight, and the movie reminds us pretty quickly that he’s a baby compared to what he will be one day. The first shot of Kong in this movie is beautiful. I’ll say that again – a shot in a movie about a giant ape is beautiful. Sure, it apes (sorry, had to) Apocalypse Now, but it’s gorgeous, with the colors and the silhouette really forming Kong as he should be. Along with that, there are some really good set pieces and the creature designs are good too. I wasn’t necessarily crazy about all of them, but they were all creative and all were obviously well thought out.
And the movie rarely gives you time without showing you another monster, or Kong. It’s that old-fashioned monster mash, while constantly pushing between the grave and the humorous that saves the film for me. With the addition of John C. Reilly, the only character who has a dynamic bone in his body (and steals each and every scene he’s in), the movie trudges along and allows you to have a bit of fun. Sure the movie is drenched in metaphors for war, the American military, and others, but what it really boils down to is “HOLY CRAP KONG JUST ATE THAT GUY OMG OMG OMG”.
I enjoyed a lot of it, and probably would have enjoyed it more had we just kept Hiddleston and Larson out of it. Both were fine in their roles, but the shoehorned romance felt out of place in this ruckus of a movie. Continue to focus on the monster’s, and I’ll see you for King Kong vs. Godzilla in a few years.
I’m giving Kong: Skull Island a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"