Kong: Skull Island – Film Review

Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they know, they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery soon becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape from a primal world where humanity does not belong.

I’ve been a massive fan of King Kong and the other MonsterVerse movie monsters ever since I was a little kid. I grew up watching the older King Kong movies and thinking it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. All these years later, the memories of those old films still resonate within me.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw that scene from the 2008 take on the character in which the titular monster scales the Empire State Building. As a young kid, my mouth was agape and I was absolutely enamored by what I was looking at. It made me fall in love with movies that much more.

So it’s genuinely surprising, even to me, that I did not see Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island in theatres when it was released in 2017. Maybe it was because I didn’t like 2014’s Godzilla at the time and was turned off from the MonsterVerse, but even still it surprises me that I have waited even this long to check out the latest iteration of the classic creature. I’m sad that I waited as long as I did because Skull Island is an action-packed thrill-ride from beginning to end and serves as an excellent entry in this exciting franchise.

If you were one of the many people that complained that Godzilla wasn’t in his own movie too much – don’t worry. Kong is in Skull Island a lot. And whenever he is on-screen, he is a force to be reckoned with. The first time we see him in this movie is utterly terrifying and the way it was helmed by director Vogt-Roberts just goes to show how horrifying it would be to see King Kong in real life if he really did exist.

That’s probably one of the things I appreciated the most about this movie – it makes King Kong genuinely scary. Whenever he is on-screen, you feel as though the human characters are going to be in serious danger if they don’t flee the scene immediately.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

And speaking of the human characters – I actually enjoyed them quite a bit. It’s usually annoying to have to cut back to human characters in a movie in which a gigantic gorilla wreaks havoc because, after all, that’s what you paid to see, right? That’s true, but the human characters in Kong: Skull Island are important to the central story and by the end of the movie, you care for both the humans and Kong.

Skull Island is also easily one of the most gorgeous looking monster movies ever made. There are tons of vibrant eye-candy scenes to look at that truly blew me away. Every shot is brimming with color which was such a pleasant surprise. Some directors would have made this film intentionally dark and cold looking, but not Vogt-Roberts. His film almost feels like a comic-book come to life, and I love that.

The movie is not perfect though. It has a severe issue with its storytelling – more specifically, its use of heavy exposition. Anytime we learn something about Skull Island or Kong himself, it’s always done using a load of exposition which really frustrated me. Visual storytelling is the way to go if possible, but Skull Island has a lot of exposition.

Plus the humor here is extremely weak, despite the film making several efforts to be funny. It just falls flat nearly every time a joke is told. I appreciated that the screenwriters wanted to have a couple of tension-breakers along the way during this suspenseful and thrilling ride, but it just didn’t work. Gratefully, Skull Island nevertheless stands tall as a behemoth of a monster movie.

Overall Grade: B+

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: March 10, 2017

Running Time: 118 minutes

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