Review: Kong Skull Island (No Spoilers)

By Angel:

Movie Description: “A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.”

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Experience

I was looking forward to this movie simply because of the cast. If John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are in the same movie with my favorite giant ape, I’m watching it. The trailer gave me an indication that they were going for a classic 70’s look, but it almost did seem too familiar to Apocalypse Now. I was nervous there would be too much imagery inspiration from Coppola’s war masterpiece, making the film distracting and preventing it from having it’s own unique style. I was, unfortunately, disappointed with Kong: Skull Island because this film was just filler in order to set up the big crossover fight between Kong and Godzilla. Let’s get started!

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Story

I really didn’t care for the narrative at all as soon as I realized this story was only being told so the studio could make money while they establish their King Kong character before the epic showdown between monsters. I admit, there are entertaining sequences in the movie like the bursts of action. The hook captivated me because Kong was shown right away and they didn’t shy away from his presence, something 2014’s Godzilla was afraid to do.

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The human characters in Godzilla had too much characterization which was boring and Kong: Skull Island suffers from minimal characterization, their attempt at their characterization was awful as well. Great characters consist of either negative or positive personalities with motivations of underlying beliefs. The characters in this story just felt like they were there and when they were given arcs, for example Samuel L Jackson, it was lame and silly because he wanted to show kong “that man was king,” while Tom Hiddleston spontaneously decides “we’re going to save Kong.” The conflict was laughable and the characters evolved over their journey in ways that didn’t make any sense.

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I didn’t even feel connected enough to Kong and his character transformation wasn’t clear at all. At first, it makes sense, these people bomb his home and of course he’s going to kill everyone involved, but his affection towards certain characters didn’t make me empathize with them or him. There was also drastic tone shifts so the tone of the movie did not feel as cohesive as it should have been. Peter Jackson’s King Kong film is superior in all of these aspects.

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Performances

 With a cast this amazing you would expect some compelling performances, but the acting was average all around from everyone. The actors were wasted in these written roles and I could tell because I’ve seen all of them at their best. Samuel L. Jackson was just in a random movie again yelling, it’s a missed opportunity that they didn’t get him to say “I’ve had it with these motherf**king gorillas on this motherf**king island!” Tom Hiddleston was doing an Uncharted audition with an accent and then became a power ranger in one of the action sequences.

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Academy Award Winner Brie Larson was really good at smiling and taking photos in the movie I guess. Remember Bryan Cranston’s character in Godzilla and how they used him…well, they didn’t learn their lesson when it came to using John Goodman’s character either. I think I’m most upset with how they used Toby Kebbell and his character, “Dear Billy,” was suppose to have dramatic impact, but they didn’t focus on it enough, it was lazy and I felt nothing at the end of his character’s quest.

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Cinematography

To me, great cinematography is when the visuals are contributing to the storytelling. A film should SHOW us what’s going on rather than tell us. When it comes to analyzing cinematography, simply, I ask myself, “Was this film nice to look at?” Then I can choose to get in depth and look for whether colors were symbolic, placement of characters in the frame, composition, lighting, shadows, and point of view.

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Was Kong Skull: Island a nice film to look at…few shots absolutely, but for the majority of the time it was just functional. I could tell they wanted to channel the style of Apocalypse Now which did annoy me because I kept thinking about wanting to watch that movie. Also, I thought the lenses provided way too many warmer flares which my eyes didn’t appreciate like I wanted them too.

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The CGI was not impressive, I could tell there were green screens galore and the visual effects should have been better than movies from the past years such as Peter Jackson’s King Kong and Pacific Rim. The locations they shot in Vietnam looked beautiful though!

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Music

Classic 70’s nostalgia was accomplished by the soundtrack with iconic riffs which added to the fun entertainment. The filmmakers did a brilliant job at showcasing how vital music was for soldiers during that time period and I appreciated that.

Themes

Honestly, I didn’t see any messages emphasized in this movie. The only thing I could assume they were trying to encourage was that war was evil and also to show compassion towards one another, especially in unknown territory. I felt they could have implemented and explored consequences of war such as PTSD which is still a worldwide dilemma with veterans.

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Overall

This was a typical blockbuster with standard CGI, amusing action sequences, nostalgic soundtrack, forgettable characters, and an underwhelming narrative that was just trying to set up for it’s oversized monster universe. Now that we’ve gone through the movie, make sure to stay for the end credits because the post credit scene was my favorite part, especially hearing it. My rating for Kong: Skull Island is 7/10. (C)

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