Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★½

So I guess if you can't make good art, you can squeak by if you reference enough of other people's good art?

Eh. Who cares about Kong: Skull Island. Apparently I don’t; I sat at my desk for over an hour today with nothing to do, wishing I'd watched something since Explorers so I could scrawl out some half-assed Trump-bashing diatribe framed as a film review, before remembering, holy shit, I had seen a movie, had sat through Kong less than 24 hours prior, in fact. In my defense, I got like 3.5 hours sleep last night and have spent all of yesterday and most of this morning editing copy for 120 different types of walking sticks and 1,137 separate trailer hitches for various styles of pickups. TRAILER HITCHES. My brain is fried for the day, which I'm hoping is why I'm struggling so to muster any enthusiasm towards Kong: Skull Island, a movie I didn't hate but sure as shit seem to be forgetting faster than whatever the hell it was my wife asked me to pick up from the grocery store when I leave work today. (My wife is a vegetarian, so when in doubt I buy quinoa. Or wine.)

You'd think Skull Island would be at least somewhat memorable; Jordan Vogt-Roberts' first contribution to the forthcoming Legendary MonsterVerse matches the visual spectacle of Gareth Evans' (or Edwards') 2014 Godzilla, yet flips that first film's dour self-serious tone on its head, instead offering us Apocalypse Now-by-way-of-Peter-Jackson-by-way-of-a-Creedence-Clearwater-Revival-Greatest-Hits-album, as tonally attuned to its reptilian predecessor as Batman Forever was to Batman Returns.

Not sure why Vogt-Roberts and screenwriters Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly chose to frame their movie about a ten-story-tall squid-eating oddly paternalistic ape as Colonel Kurtz fan fiction, or why they then populate this strange world with the stockiest assortment of stock characters this side of a TV Tropes web page, but the result is a striking, occasionally gorgeous monster movie with all the imagination and finesse of a dead armadillo. Sure, watching Kong punch the shit out of various military aircraft and gargantuan beasties is fun, but Skull Island can't be entirely about a massive gorilla wrecking shit, so instead we're treated to these so-called "protagonists" who use their so-called "personalities" to engage in so-called "conversations" every once in a while, mostly long chains of expository information wrapped up by an improvised John C. Reilly non-sequitur. The plot offers absolutely nothing by way of shocks or surprises—King Homer features more unexpected deaths than Skull Island—but it does deliver five times the giant monster mayhem as Edwards' (or Evans') Godzilla, so at least the yokel area of your brain will go home pleased. Just be careful. Skull Island represents such a brain-sucking vacuum of empty spectacle, after watching it you might no longer remember why characters named "Conrad" and "Marlow" seemed so eye-rollingly obvious when the film first began.

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