“Kong: Skull Island” is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts starring Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Toby Kebbell. “Kong: Skull Island” takes place right after Vietnam is coming to a close when a team of scientists and explorers seek out the hidden and uncharted Skull Island to discover the mysterious creatures that have been rumored to be abound there. Of course they venture into the territory of Kong, King of the jungle along with a wide array of other monsters and creatures of the deep. Once disaster strikes our human heroes, they must concoct a plan for escape and try to survive against the Jurassic creatures that stalk them.
“Kong: Skull Island” is the sequel to Gareth Edwards’ very successful 2014 film “Godzilla,” which is said to be a part of a larger shared monster universe for Warner Brothers and Lionsgate Studios. The next feature lined up is “King Kong vs Godzilla” which is on the cinema horizon. “Kong: Skull Island” is an homage to Apocalypse now in every fashionable sense. Of course if you know your movie history then “Apocalypse Now” is an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s classic book Heart of Darness. This movie has so many nods to Francis Ford Coppola’s film which is a nice wink and a nod but after a while it got a little tiresome and at times I felt like I was watching the same movie only with King Kong in it. Sure visually this was a stunning film to look at with some amazing cinematography and perfect movie monster eye candy but that’s pretty much all you get here.
The biggest thing this movie has going for it are the monster fights. There are a few really cool sequences that we get to see of Kong fighting giant squids, crawling monsters called “skull crushers” and other creepy crawlies and eight legged beasties. Those were a lot of fun to watch and there’s an epic scene where Kong takes down an entire fleet of helicopters which was really cool. The problem is that the action is so few and the sequences are incredibly short which doesn’t help the pacing of the movie. The actors in this movie were absolutely pointless. A lot of them die pretty quickly and a lot of them really don’t serve a lot of purpose to the story. The character development was so incredibly thin I just didn’t care about a single one with the exception of John C. Reilly’s character. He had the most development and was actually the biggest surprise in the movie. I really liked his character and he kept the film going. But I’m wondering why the producers felt the need to get a ton of big A-list Hollywood actors if they really didn’t need them. On top of that, the acting is incredibly corny and the dialogue is stale and one-note.
Now you’re probably saying, “what do you expect? Who cares about the human characters this is a King Kong movie for God’s sake?” I will agree but the sequences with King Kong while fun didn’t really deliver the way that Edward’s “Godzilla” did at least for me. I think the reason why “Godzilla” was so successful was because they utilized the “Jaws” effect. You never really see Godzilla until that third act of the movie and when you do see him he delivers hard. When we saw that blue fire breath the crowd went nuts. However with “Kong” we see him within the first twenty minutes and we see him so frequently that by the time the third act comes the monster fight scene was boring and very anti-climactic. Look, I can easily forgive the human characters because let’s face it; we don’t see these monster films for the humans. We see them for the monsters. However the monster stuff was something that we’ve seen before and didn’t really impress me. Peter Jackson remade the original 1933 film in 2005 and it was a glorious and faithful adaptation of the “King Kong” story. Everything that they did in that film we just saw in this version. So I’m not really sure why we needed this movie.
I know they want to start another shared monster universe with “King Kong,” “Godzilla,” and “Pacific Rim” but do we really need it? Probably not and I’m not sure how much people really want it. I’m not trying to bash this film because it wasn’t garbage it just wasn’t that great. The constant “Apocalypse Now” references became tired, the acting was terrible and the action set pieces while fun were so few and far in-between. “Kong: Skull Island” was a throwaway popcorn feast that most people will forget in time and unless they can concoct a way to have Godzilla and Kong fight in an epic manner, I think these movies after a while will become very tired. They should be taking more advice from Gareth Edwards who made “Godzilla” and last years amazing “Star Wars Rogue One.” “Kong: Skull Island” tries to breathe new life into the character but ultimately settles for mediocre.