Kong roars into theaters, but his movie falls flat
March 29, 2017
Filed under A & E
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In 1973, a motley crew of scientists, soldiers and a photographer go on a mission to discover the secrets of the mysterious Skull Island. However, as soon as they get there, they’re attacked by the king of monsters, Kong. Now our heroes brave the treacherous jungle to make their way back to the rendezvous point in time to be rescued.
When going into a monster movie of this type, my number one question is “where are the monster fights and how good are they?” Warner Bros. clearly learned their lesson here. They increased the action quotient for Kong: Skull Island and did a great job making all of it exciting. You get to see the ultimate Kong vs. humans vs. other monsters throwdown, and it’s a thing of beauty.
The filmmakers did a good job setting up Kong and his world. Kong himself is lovingly crafted, a wonderful creation played well by mo-cap actor Terry Notary. Not only is he a cool looking monster, he’s the most interesting character in the movie. He’s not just some dumb wild animal, but the god of Skull Island protecting his turf. He may be destructive, but he’s ultimately a savior delivering the natives from even more dangerous creatures.
Skull Island is an interesting location. The stylized visual effects might throw you off, but once you get past that it’s a great place for an adventure that I’d love revisiting.
There is not one bad actor in Kong: Skull Island. They’ve all done great work and will do so again. However, nearly all of them are wasted in this movie. It’s not that they’re bad (they all do fine with what they’re given), but most of them have nothing to do other than look scared/badass, run around and shoot things. Seriously, I could give most of the actors a one-to-five word description and that would be their entire character.
The only ones with any substance are Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly. I cared about their characters and wanted to see where their stories went, but they didn’t make up for the fact that the rest of their cast got table scraps.
I’m not suggesting Kong: Skull Island be Shakespeare, but I didn’t find it that well written. There’s little character development, with familiar faces popping in with no real reason except “we need this stock character.” Most of the humor falls completely flat, becoming awkward rather than amusing. To my immense disappointment, one of the screenwriters was Dan Gilroy, writer/director of the excellent Nightcrawler. I also hear that Vogt Roberts’ previous work in Kings of Summer was basically all about character development. Where was it here?
Overall, Kong: Skull Island is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s great to see Kong and the action is terrific, but most of the characters are half-baked nonentities that are hard to root for, especially when Kong himself is so cool. It’s not a bad movie, but I think you can wait for Netflix.