Reviewing: Kong: Skull Island

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If you ever go to a movie with me, you’ll be able to tell, almost instantly, if I’m enjoying the film or not. I am a fidgeter and have several ticks that come out when I’m nervous, or bored or trying to keep myself awake. Last night, when my husband and I went to see Kong: Skull Island, I was fidgeting constantly.

Kong: Skull Island is a reboot of the classic story set in the 1970s just at the end of the Vietnam War. A group of scientists, military men, and “adventurers” travel to an uncharted island to learn more about its environmental and geological traits… as well as the monsters flourishing there. The film was produced by Warner Bros., and let me tell you, it is so painfully obvious that they were the ones to create this film.

The movie features a cast of A-list celebrities including John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, and Brie Larson, which would normally make for an excellent film. But instead of giving the actors a chance to fully embrace the personalities and development of each character, they limit them to one-dimensional, clichéd tropes, as if they are checking off boxes. We have John Goodman as the knowledgable crackpot, Samuel L. Jackson as the sawed-off military man, Tom Hiddleston as the rough, mysterious tracker, and Brie Larson as the journalist. I am not exaggerating when I say that the actors do nothing to move beyond their role, giving the least bit of effort to give the characters any depth. We all know what they can do, yet the directors and writers would rather sacrifice compelling acting for explosions. It hurts to see Oscar winners bottled up in this way.

I will say that John C. Reily’s character was an interesting addition and was possibly the only one given any sort of depth, as he swings from lucid, knowledgeable guide to crazy castaway, dreaming of his life back in the States.

The plot seemed interesting enough, with Kong tearing down the survey group, only to end up defending them in the end. But directors were banking on this to carry the film, rather than spending the time to bolster it with compelling characters and interactions between them. And, in true Warner Bros. fashion, the entire film reads more as one long music video, where characters some how always have record players with them to play non-time-period specific music at completely random moments. There is literally only one or two quiet moments in the film, which made it difficult to focus on what was actually occurring in the story.

Now, the only thing that could potentially save this movie from total disaster, would be the action scenes. And they are interesting to watch. And although I know we cannot really talk about accuracy when dealing with a film like this, but the fight scenes involving Kong read more like choreography than pure, animalistic encounters. Kong walks around on two legs throughout the entire film, making him more of a human-like figure than an animal. The final fight between Kong and the ancient lizard-like monsters show Kong fighting as if he were a human rather than biting and clawing and crashing around like animals actually do. He did not seem unpredictable or dangerous, despite directors’ best attempts at making him seem so.

Walking out of the movie, we were both stunned at how films like this are actually produced and released. As my husband said: Warner Bros. relies on CGI action scenes and music to carry their films, rather than spending the time to actually create something worthwhile. I think it would do the company a world of good to take a few months, review their priorities, bring on directors and writers with actual vision, and start making well-rounded, compelling movies. Otherwise, I’m sure they will be dead in the water very soon. No amount of popular music or contracts for comic-book movies can save you when you don’t put in the effort or respect that fans deserve.

My husband and I were trying to remember all the movies we’ve seen this year, and wondering what would have been the best. One thing was certain: Kong: Skull Island was by far the worst.

What did you think of Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of Warner Bros. interpretation of Kong? Do you think Warner Bros. relies to heavily on action to replace actual storytelling? Why or why not? How can Warner Bros. redeem itself as a viable film company? Let’s talk.

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One comment

  1. I have to admit I quite enjoyed this film, though I would have to agree with your comment about Kong’s lack of animalistic nature. I think action films are often predisposed to having whopping gaps in their plots, it just seems that Warner Bros are a little worse at covering them up.

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