I take you back dear readers to the year 2013, when Pacific Rim surprised cinema audiences with incredible action sequences that were both exciting and pleasurable to watch. This was the beginning of the resurrection of monster movies. The genre which had not been gazed upon by the mass audience since the early 1950’s should have had film goers shaking with anticipation that this genre was being brought back up to date. Now in 2017, with the release of one of the most famous monsters in cinema, I have started to realise that drive has now disappeared.
Kong: Skull Island is unfortunately flawed in its execution to advance the newly established giant monster universe that had been started by 2014’s Godzilla. This is evident by its opening credits where it perfectly mimics the opening to Godzilla with old stock footage from passing time and the location theme of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the first ten minutes of this film are built around establishing itself taking place in the same universe as Godzilla.
Now what the film should have done with that time is to set up the characters that populate the film, because director Jordan Vogt-Roberts never took that executive decision as director the characters in the film are incredibly bland and hollow. You can easily categories the characters into generic good guy and bad guy from the moment they are introduced. The film also keeps the potential of developing character relationships from us, in the film we see what could be the start of a romantic relationship between the characters of Houston and San (played by Corey Hawkins and Tian Jing) but at the film’s conclusion they are still in the same place which is greatly annoying.
Many elements in this film are one big tease to the audience, for instance, there is a scene where John C Reilly’s character points out that giant ants live on the island. The audience certainly hears them, but never sees them for the rest of the film. You must question the screenwriters’ decision to have included this at all, it just establishes the dangers of the island that have already been established a long time ago. I feel like the screenwriters had a goal and had a vision for a perfect Kong film, but at some point, saw what happened with Godzilla and saw to correct those mistakes without looking at the bigger picture.
However, where the film fails at interesting characters, it makes up for having decent performances, especially from Tom Hiddlestone and Brie Larson. What they provide is a decent level of energy that their respective scenes needed plus the unfortunate strain of carry this film so it reaches the finish line. Samuel L Jackson’s character Pacard is the main antagonist and is a performance that one would typically expect from Sam Jackson so there’s not much to marvel at.
Something there is to marvel at is the design of Kong himself and the little twist on his legend. Kong’s design is a big improvement from the Peter Jackson film of 2005 unexpectedly because he given a more athletic look. He looks faster, he looks stronger which grabs whatever enjoyment comes from the action scenes and gives it a boost.
It’s quite interesting to think that the simplest things and simplest tweaks are the highlights of the film, when the film includes other giant monsters, the island becomes an over-complicated mess as if the monsters were included to have something going on in a scene and don’t really contribute to the story, except for the Skullcrawler monsters, although it does sound like the monsters were named by a 10-year-old kid.
I do respect the director’s choice in showing us Kong as soon as the film did, as that was one of the fatal flaws in Godzilla. But just as I thought that the film had learned its lesson, the film runs into serious pacing problems caused by a rushed narrative with the goal of getting to Kong wreaking havoc as soon as possible. Even when characters die, there is no time to mourn their death because the film has already cut to the next scene.
The additional elements don’t favour the film any further as the films editing decided to apply a slow-motion effect to the film’s action scenes whenever something cool happens. This effect is something I expect in a low-budget student film, not in a major blockbuster, it just makes the action scenes feel very cheap and tight.
In the end, Kong: Skull Island is a massive disappointment to those who have followed the King Kong films since the very first one in 1933, it seems that the studio needed to make this film so that they have some excuse to verify a Godzilla VS King Kong film (which we will be getting in 2020). Part of me does feel for the Jordan Vogt-Roberts however, I feel that he was thrown into this project so that he could potentially be targeted for the films disappointment, the fact that he’s a generally new director with a successful indie film just strengthens the point being made.
Final Result: 3/10 – Poor
Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Beauty and the Beast