‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’ (2017) MOVIE REVIEW – Kong Is King!
‘Kong: Skull Island’ introduces us to this new, bigger, stronger, and more destructive version of King Kong who is being set up to in the future go toe to toe with the mighty Godzilla introduced in 2014 by Gareth Edwards. And i gotta say, this universe is shaping up to be absolutely insane because first Godzilla blew me away and now Kong is putting up a fight with this really good entry. A squad of rather unsuspecting explorers venture to a mysterious island in order to survey the landscape of this uncharted land, but little do they know they are walking into Kong’s backyard and lets just say visitors may not be welcomed on this island. This movie is very fast paced from beginning to end, packed full of large scale thrilling Kong action, and incorporates themes of horror and some comedy mostly well. The cinematography (if you couldn’t tell from the posters) is at times jaw dropping. Literally, there are at least 10 shots in this film that are so stunning they are more than desktop wallpaper worthy. But this movie isn’t all good so lets get some of the not so successful things out of the way.
Admittedly, this movie starts off not so great, it still feels very fast paced just like the rest of the film but it is trying to do so much so quickly that until shit starts to go down on the island it does fall flat and feel a little choppy. They needed to introduce our monster, set up the entire very stacked cast, introduce some interesting relationships, set things up for later in the film, and introduce the key driving force of the plot in such a small amount of time you didn’t get much of a chance to connect with the film early on. This film does incorporate a decent amount of some fairly light humour and a couple moments of well executed cheesiness. But sometimes the movie does go one step too far towards the humour and cheesiness to where some of the jokes fall flat and the cheesiness feels quite out of tone. These are brief moments but they did briefly take me out of the film. And surprisingly enough none of these scenes came from John C. Reilly’s character who i thought going into the film was going to come across as being too silly. But nope, he fit really well.
But for a film with such a stacked cast i thought that by the half way mark they had well established pretty much all of the main roles to the point where the audience could either relate to, like, or dislike the characters we were following. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, and Thomas Mann all played very good characters that i could buy in their roles in the situation they were in. So in successfully developing an ensemble cast i’d say this film succeeds greatly, there are some more supporting roles though that are really just throwaway characters there to be food for the creatures on the island. So their presence is necessary but their characters are just one note and uninteresting. There is one character in the film played by Toby Kebbel who really did not need to be nor should he have been in this movie. Nothing against his performance, it’s just that his character had no purpose in the film other than to be an excuse to extend the movie longer. I’m not saying the movie should have been shorter i’m saying there were other ways to accomplish the scenario his character contributes to and one of those ways is used even later in the film confirming you didn’t need his character in this film at all. That was very vague, and for spoiler reasons it had to be.
But now for the action, if you were one that felt the awesome, spine tingling action in 2014’s Godzilla wasn’t enough then you will be pleased to know that there is a lot more of it here….. and it is crazy. The action sequences in this film whether they feature Kong or not are big, intense, at times scary, and just fantastically awesome in so many ways. The action does have more of a presence in this film than in ‘Godzilla’ but it does follow a similar progression with smaller events leading to a bat-shit crazy explosion of awesomeness later in the film. I mean, there is a reason you see this film on the big screen and it is for the action because it is glorious. And the other reason is the vivid, rich in contrast, and truly stunning cinematography which is crazy good. As i mentioned earlier, the film has these moments where it very seamlessly pauses on a gloriously beautiful shot and i loved it every single time. With each awesome shot i added it to a list of which shots i want as posters, unfortunately i wont have enough wall space.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts also does something very cool with the cinematography that those who love and appreciate the Spaghetti Westerns of the 60’s will definitely enjoy. There are a few moments in the film including one standoff that definitely take inspiration from films such as the ‘Dollars Trilogy’ from Sergio Leone starring Clint Eastwood. It’s just an awesome little touch adding to the beauty of this film.
So in the end, looking past the somewhat shabby openings, and brief poor implementation of tonally odd cheesy moments there is a tonne of fun to be had with this awesome movie. The action is insane, the characters are all or mostly great, the cinematography is remarkable, and this sets the groundwork for what i am sure is going to be an awesome universe of monsters.
AND ALSO, WARNING!! Make sure you stay for the after credits scene because i can tell you it is damn-right AWESOME and you do not want to miss it.