Kong: Skull Island Review
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Shea Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Jason Mitchell, Richard Jenkins, Mivayi.
I'm actually shocked and scared to be reminded by this, that Peter Jackson's King Kong was nearly 12 years ago! 12 years! So, so much has happened in those years! I could have sworn that film was only a few years ago and not several. Anyway, I digress. It had to be mentioned, naturally the first things I thought when seeing the trailer for Skull Island was Jackson's Kong, the original King Kong from 1933 and the Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange King Kong from 1976. Films I'll come back to these during this review as you can't really ignore the previous Kongs.
The core of the story is very much the same but with some major and minor tweaks that neither diminishes or improves on the originals. The same premise elements are, an exploration to an unknown island, the beautiful damsel brought along from the ride, the natives and of course Kong himself. But this Kong is huge, the largest one which has more of a purpose than to just be dominating on the screen; it's for a planned death match with Godzilla, so an inevitable beefing up of the classic screen monster happens here.
Kong himself, superbly, animatronically acted by Toby Kebbell, who has a dual role in the film. It's not a surprise, nor the first time, a CGI enhanced character has more depth and emotion than the rest of the entire cast put together. And what a cast it has! What should be the eighth wonder of the world is how can a film assemble a massive star-studded cast, including an oscar winner and a couple of nominees, yet deliver such a terrible, poorly hashed-together film. But the answer probably lies with the weak writing and struggling editing.
The only real decent character development in the movie is Kong and Reilly's stranded WWII pilot, who gets all the best lines, not that there's many to go around. The rest are just propped up characters, plot or sandwiches fillers for the Island's other oversized beasties. There's some graphic deaths and gruesome dismemberments, but these are characters you'll probably forgot about so you couldn't can less and actually care equally less for the surviving ones. Even the supporting cast are quite a wasted collective, Straight Outta Compton stars, Dr. Dre, Corey Hawkins and Eazy-E's Jason Mitchell make up the platoon with Shea Whigham doing a Sonny Landham's Billy from Predator, a film that seems to influence Kong.
Having parallels to Godzilla, Kong is neither good or bad and instead, like Zilla, is just a giant animal that goes about his business, defending his territory. You actually sympathise with Kong, like with the previous films but with a different dynamic, that dynamic being Samuel L. Jackson replacing the biplanes and helicopters. They also water down the damsel in distress with Larson actually looking very much like the younger Jessica Lange.
The action is actually really good, though very corny with needless sequences put in purely for dramatic effect, leaving you questioning, what was the point of that, other than to exercise the special effect department and Hiddleston's sword slashing skills. The CGI is very much on point and would suggest watching this in 3D seeing that they purposefully shot scenes purely for 3D eye-candy.
The production is also a win here, making the island a character in itself, creating a harsh and dangerous environment that's contradicted by it's beauty. There's some clever shots, and everything visually fits into place, though, and I've said this before. It must be so hard to think up a concept for threatening, powerful and original beast that could match Kong for the finale. They serve the purpose well enough. I'm a fan of Henry Jackman's scores, Kick-Ass and Big Hero 6 in particular, and whilst this score suits the film and captures the mood really well, it's nothing memorable apart from deep horns.
It's flawed and clichéd, poorly edited with no real personality, apart from the CGI assisted ape, but who gives a monkeys, it's actually an entertaining Kong reboot, that I prefer than Jackson's visit to Skull Island. It's good ol' brainless fun.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Probably if on special.
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