Quick note: After I was informed by Yomu, I think my comments have been flagged up as spam for some bloggers. Some of my comments don’t show up in comment boxes and I think this is why. If I’ve liked your post, I will have most likely commented at one point or another, if that’s the case please check your spam comments section to see if I’m there and if so please approve me, I’m not a bot, I think… This is only a small issue but I felt I needed to bring it to light. Once again special thanks to Yomu for pointing this out for me.
Kong: Skull Island – No Monkey Business
Ok, that title was terrible… Anyway while I work on my upcoming discussion about Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I decided to review the movie that came before it, Kong Skull Island. Kong is a 2017 american made kaiju movie and serves as both a sequel/prequel to the Godzilla Monsterverse and a reboot of King Kong. I watched the movie for the first time yesterday and honestly, I found it to be a very entertaining movie, it wasn’t perfect but I did really enjoy it. So what does this movie have going for it, lets stop monkeying around and get to the review. (I really need to stop…)
For the most part this plot is kinda similar to the other King Kong movies that came before it. A group of people come to the island, practically asking for trouble, and bring all hell upon themselves with King Kong at the forefront of the chaos. This is a very character heavy story and it plays off of the plot of the humans trying to regroup with one another, which serves mainly as a way to showcase a whole bunch of monsters. While that does seem like a really dreary plot, this movie has one this that its predecessor Godzilla (2014) didn’t have, it doesn’t drag its feet. While I love the Legendary Pictures Godzilla, the movie just drags on and on before we finally get to see Godzilla, and yes I do agree with people saying that he should have had more screen time. But this movie does still deliver the same type of buildup, but rather with you guessing when Kong would show up, not actually hoping for him to show up. But away from Kong, the human plot is both kinda interesting and also kinda dreary. We have the good guys all surviving in the jungle and uncovering the secrets of the island, all while an evil crazed soldier tries to being the island to his knees. For the time this movie was set, in 1973 as the Vietnam War ended, the whole plot of having a soldier obsessed with victory is actually pretty clever considering how America supposedly ‘lost’ that war. One thing I will also praise this story on is how, deep down it isn’t taking itself that seriously, while Godzilla was quite dark (both figuratively and literally), Kong knows what it is and so just has fun with its story and monsters. But aside from that and a few interesting tidbits surrounding Kong, which we’ll get into later, the plot isn’t really anything special, at best its a serviceable story with some fun moments.
I’m really torn with these characters. On one hand I think that Tom Hiddleston’s character is pretty fun but at the same time he doesn’t really have that much going for him. After all, he seems pretty damn adamant about not going to the island at the start, only to agree to it within the span of 30 seconds. Everyone else is the same, they’re likeable but aside from that they have very little going for them. The most complex character is Samuel L. Jackson as the villain. As said before, his motivation stems from his desire to succeed in battle, especially with Vietnam being a big focus of his character. One set of characters I’m really conflicted about is the cluster of soldiers that follow Samuel L. Jackson. They serve as the comic relief most of the time, but they seem very out-of-place with such a disturbed character. John C. Reilly as the castaway style character is a pretty effective comic relief as he isn’t too ‘in your face’ and he does actually contribute to the plot in a few ways. I can’t really find anything else to say about the characters in this film, they’re perfectly fine but at the same time so vague that I can’t really dissect them all that much.
I don’t really like talking about the effects in movies nowadays, since about 70 – 80% of films use CGI and more often that not it will look good. But good god the effects in this movie are really something. I mean it’s obviously fake, but it’s that kind of effect where you’re so blown away by it that you forget its fake. I’ll give this movie one good positive in terms of its visual style, at least it’s not like Godzilla and you can actually SEE THE MONSTERES! Speaking of said monsters, while I’m getting to talking about them specifically in a moment, they look incredible here. Kong has a lot of personality in his eyes and you really get this air of majesty about him. The other monsters look great too, creative appearances and some really intense action sequences involving them. This movie doesn’t have the same atmosphere as Godzilla, meaning that while that film was very dark it did have some decent build-up towards the reveal of the monster. But at the same time this movie presents itself in a much brighter light, both in tone and in visual presentation. The shots they use to depict the monsters really show off their size, a lot of them giant versions of other creatures, outclassing the humans really adds to their magnitude since it makes both the characters and you feel puny compared to the bests on display. Also the fight scenes in this movie are great, they’re well paced, have a lot of great moments and some really creative shots, not to mention a whole heaping of FATALITY level deaths for both humans and monsters. In conclusion, this movie boasts some great effects and a lot of creativity in its designs and action.
- Kong: The king of the apes is back, and oh boy has he shot up in size. Scaling Kong to a size where he can fit alongside the likes of Godzilla really adds to this creatures menace and power. But behind that menace is a character and not just a monster. He has a personality, one that is drenched in loneliness and when you hear about his origins in the prequel novel, you just feel for the big hairy guy. This facial expressions are very effective, both for the moments when he’s sincere and when he’s raging. Kong is the star of this film, and he has so many great fight moments that you just can’t help but route for him. The King is back baby, despite not actually being King Kong yet…
- Skullcrawlers: The main antagonists of the film, the MUTO to Kong’s Godzilla, and these things are terrifying. Their sunken features and tight posture is really grotesque and they just drip with dread. They aren’t as impressive as the MUTO’s and have an obscured evolutionary flaw in my opinion, but they are fierce and do their job as the monster antagonists.
- The other monsters: A lot of these beasts are throwaway and appear in 1 or 2 scenes. But these things are where the real creativity in this movie shine. There’s a giant spider with bamboo legs, a fabulous camouflage idea that kinda reminds me of the old Toho kaiju Kumonga. There’s also a weird log stick insect and some strange birds along with a handful of other beasts to fill the island. As I said before, many of these are throwaway creatures, but the scenes they were in offered some unique fight scenes and some really unique designs, again that spider is great.
- Story: 4/5 – It’s very similar to the other King Kong movies, but it is well paced, does do well with what it’s given and works as both a standalone story as well as a connection to the monsterverse.
- Characters: 3/5 – I do like these characters a lot, but many of them just seem too basic for me. There are some layers to a few characters, but beyond that these characters have barely any actual connection to me.
- Presentation: 4/5 – Fabulous effects, some great monster designs and absolutely stunning combat scenes, this movie takes everything it can and goes nuts with it and it definitely works in its favor.
- Genre Representation: 4/5 – The action scenes are thrilling and many quite tense, the monster battles look amazing and the films style overall makes a for fun action film.
- (Unique Grade) Monster…ness: 4/5 – It’s not perfect and I’m honestly not the biggest King Kong fan, but both he, his adversaries and everything in between make for some incredible monster action.
- Final Grade: 4/5 – Fans of both King Kong and monster films in general will find their itch suitably scratched. At worst this movie’s a fun time waster but at best it’s a great monster film and one that ties us over until the real showdown of the monster in King of the Monsters.
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