Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Legendary’s MonsterVerse started off pretty well with the return of Godzilla in 2014. Fast forward to 2017, we have the return of the king of all monsters, Kong. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island follows a team of explorers and soldiers traveling to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong. While I was really truly into “monsters”, the trailers for Kong: Skull Island and the stellar cast have peaked my interest. The cast includes Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad, Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard, John Goodman as Bill Randa, Brie Larson as Mason Weaver, Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman, John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow, and much more.

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Kong: Skull Island was definitely a fun movie to watch, its man vs. nature theme was much stronger than in Godzilla. The ensemble cast helped illustrate the differing viewpoints on man vs. nature as the characters reacted differently to their predicament, although in terms of characterization they could have been fleshed out more. I felt like none of the characters have true chances to shine especially Brie Larson and Toby Kebbell (stop wasting this man’s talent). Also, thank goodness there was no forced romance, but several characters get close to each other, though.

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Although the movie is on the side of letting nature do its thing, it does a decent job showing how potentially dangerous that could be. Kong really felt like a frustrated parent trying to keep their house in order as the cast disturbs the natural order on Skull Island, destroying anything that does so with a great fury. The detail of the CGI was amazing. There was a shot of Kong’s hand after a battle and the detail to the scratches on his palm and bloody knuckles really blew me away. You could see patches of missing hair from deep cuts and blood stains on his hair. It really helped with the immersion. It didn’t feel dragged out like in Peter Jackson’s adaptation, but two things it did lack in comparison were a more sympathetic Kong and a scene as creepy as the one with the slugs (that’s not to say that the deaths weren’t brutal because they definitely were despite the PG-13 rating). The characters don’t spend as much one-to-one time with Kong as in the 2005 movie but it’s not a tremendous flaw.

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The movie also had quite a bit of humor in it, John C. Reilly’s character was actually great despite my hesitations going into this movie that he’d be full of forced humor. John C Reilly really carried the film for me. He impressed me in the role and his timing was perfect throughout. The right lines were played straight, others were played as comic relief. Things that needed to feel grounded, but when the dialog and action call for it, he plays it over the top in such a way that matches the tone of the scenes. The soundtrack was good, each song choice didn’t feel wildly out of place or forced in every single scene (ahem Suicide Squad). Also, for a blockbuster, its cinematography was pretty good, thanks to Larry Fong. It has a nice use of a warm color palette and had some Apocalypse Now-inspired shots. 

Kong: Skull Island is definitely a fun blockbuster that shows that Kong can put up a good fight against Godzilla but it could have taken more time to improve characterization. I’m pretty excited to see what’s next in the MonsterVerse. Check it out in theaters this weekend. 

SUPERSAM RATING: 7.5/10.

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