Title: Kong: Skull Island
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman
Synopsis: Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they know, they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature.
So, we have ourselves yet another King Kong blockbuster film. King Kong: Skull Island is the 8th film featuring the big beast, but thankfully there isn’t another rendition of Kong climbing on top of the Empire State Building holding a pretty woman and swinging at airplanes. That was the last time we saw Kong on the big screen in the 2005 Peter Jackson remake, which wasn’t that bad if I may add. Kong: Skull Island, however, is a brand new, original story that mainly takes place just on the island where Kong lives. It is actually a period piece that takes place in the early 70s during the last days of the Vietnam War. Even though the Vietnam War basically has nothing to do with the overall plot, it was almost like an homage to the classic American war films of the late 1970s. This decision to make it a period piece really added another layer to the film that made it that more testosterone-filled and blood thirsty. You can tell that director was really inspired by some of the classic 70s war films, especially Apocalypse Now. The landscape, imagery, and violence all resembled Apocalypse Now in some way. I also noticed some similar comparisons to classic action films like Predator and Jurassic Park as well. Especially once people starting getting killed off left and right, and the way they died, in a dark humor sense, was very similar to Spielberg’s classic 1993 film. Speaking of Jurassic Park, Samuel L. Jackson is in this, movie among an entire ensemble of very diverse and talented actors.
The thing I like most about the cast is the vast range of ages among the actors. We not only get rising up-and-comers like Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins (both from Straight Outta Compton), but talented actors in the prime of their careers like Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston, and of course sizzling veterans John Goodman and Samuel L Jackson. It was a promising cast, but unfortunately most of the characters they portrayed were pretty forgettable. I’ll say the one character who stood out from among the rest was Hank Marlow played by John C. Reilly. Some people might complain that his character’s bizarre, nutty nature didn’t fit in with the movies style and tone at all, but I would have to disagree with that. He comes in about mid-point into the plot, and really gave the film a new dynamic and helped to lighten the mood. I think Skull Island was taking itself a little too seriously up until he came in. Once he was part of the story,with the characters finding out that he has been living on the island for almost 30 years, the movie gets a lot more humorous and most importantly more fun. This is, at best, just a really fun, action-packed blockbuster flick, and John C. Reilly’s character really helped to add the fun to the film.
The plot and story structure is nothing new. The scrip wasn’t anything that special, but I do respect that the writers went out of their way to try something new with the Kong franchise, and weren’t just using the same old story that has been told since the 1930s. However, despite the minor negatives I’ve pointed out about the story structure and plot, the far and away worst thing about the script was the dialogue. This film has great actors like Brie Larson for example, but even she couldn’t pull off some of the lines that she had to say. The line reading by these really talented actors were hard to watch at time, and just plain silly. Really, the best moments of the film came when there was no dialogue and just all action. Thankfully King Kong can’t speak and only groans.
Overall, Kong: Skull Island was a pleasantly surprising, fun blockbuster flick. The movie isn’t going to blow anyone away with it’s story, dialogue, or characters, but the action is very entertaining and full of unique monsters that almost give Kong a run for his money. I was glad to hear that this film did not entirely take place in a movie studio with blue-screen/green-screen special effects. A lot of the filming took place actually in Vietnam which is something I really respected. The passion and effort of director Jordan Vogt-Roberts really shows in this film, especially in how it was shot. The use of exterior shooting locations made it feel that more realistic and vibrant. The only negatives I can point out have to do with the writing. The characters and dialogue are probably the biggest things wrong with the film, but they aren’t necessarily that important for a big-budget action film like this. King Kong is the most important character, and even though I feel like he was underused, especially in the middle of the film, Kong was definitely the scene stealer and fans of the character and franchise will really have a blast watching this film. My grade for this movie is: