Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★

The iconic giant ape deserves more than decent, forgettable fun but that's what Kong: Skull Island is; decent and forgettable. Light years away from the original and Peter Jackson's phenomenal remake.

In fact it's even hard to compare this with those movies because it shares so little similarities. It's much more in vein to Toho's version originally seen in King Kong Vs Godzilla. There's even a homage where Kong fights a giant octopus. But I suppose that's the most wise direction to take as they're essentially just setting up a Godzilla Vs King Kong remake (which will be directed by the man responsible for 2016's Blair Witch, so obviously there's no way it's going to be bad). And for this kind of series that they're building, I think they did an alright job introducing Kong.

The whole movie has this gross green hue to everything, but the use of color grading and cinematography is rather interesting will allows the movie to stand out against future 'monsterverse' movies, which is great because otherwise these movies would get the Marvel affect where everything looks bland and boring.

The CGI however was pretty basic and typical of current Hollywood movies. Technically, it looks good, but what is CGI doesn't seem to be in the same room as what isn't, and overall there was a lack of weight to everything and there was just too much of it. There was at one point a scene in which Kong grabs a tree an uses it as a weapon, but the tree is like half his height, significantly bigger than all the trees around him. That kind of oversight is just kind of disappointing for a series known for it's visual affects. There's also some embarrassing green screen work in a few places.

The creatures themselves were cool though. It took me awhile to understand why they chose to make it so tall and to make it stand upright, more 100 foot tall bigfoot than giant gorilla. The enormous water buffalo and the big insects were interesting too. None of it really compares to the ecosystem Jackson created in his Skull Island but interesting nonetheless. What I didn't like was the Skullwalkers (or whatever they're called). They're designs were kind of trash, pretty generic looking and copies that MUTO/Cloverfield look that giant monster movies seem to be using. Really wish they'd just made some cool dinosaurs.

The action was unfortunately pretty boring though. I think in concept most of the scenes sound great but they linger on for way too long and use way too much slow motion that totally ruins the tension and excitement. I think the only action I enjoyed the entire movie was the octopus scene and the final battle between Kong and The Big One.

By far the worst issue of the movie were the characters though. Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston's characters are completely underwritten, and in the third act decide they're going to safe King Kong for what feels like no reason at all except because the script said so. Sam Jackson's character has some interesting motivation where, also in the third act, he decides he wants to kill Kong, but it feels so bizarre and forced that it doesn't work at all. The movie had a spielbergian feel up until that point, after that it goes complete cornball. It could have worked if the characters and their motivations were more established, but not even Kong had any character to him and he's what the whole movie is for. The only decent character at all was John C Rielly's.

There was also a very unintentionally funny scene where one of the characters decides to sacrifice himself and unhooks grenades as the big lizard thing chases them, but the lizard whips it's tail and throws him on the side of a mountain, where the explosion completely misses it. I laughed out loud.

Robert J.H liked these reviews