Film Review: Kong: Skull Island

Kong is king. Plain and simple.

I know, I didn’t expect to be saying that either. It wasn’t for a lack of excitement to see this clash of the titans, but when the star of your movie is a giant ape (not a monkey, people!) I figured it was safe to keep my expectations much lower than Kong’s eyeline. That way when it ended up sucking I wouldn’t be completely bummed.

But it didn’t suck. I wasn’t even a little bit bummed. It. Was. Awesome.

“Awesome, you say?” Yes, I say. Now let me say it with more words. Quite simply, I can’t remember the last time I came out of a movie feeling giddy, bursting with excitement. Sure, bursting with waves of nausea, too (my temperamental stomach almost forced me from the theater, but I refused to miss a beat of this monster smackdown!), but mostly bursting with word vomit. There was so much cheer inducing gloriousness that needed to be recapped, and I needed to do it ASAP! Can you believe how they introduced Kong!? How gross was that giant spider!? Can we go see this again? Right now, RIGHT NOW!? EEEEEEEEEE!

Do you get it? I really enjoyed this movie.

Kong: Skull Island hooks you as suddenly as an uprooted tree through a chopper windshield. With this abrupt confrontation that introduces our characters to what this mysterious island really holds, the action starts rolling, picking up speed fast as man is pitted against monster. But plural. Lots and lots of monsters. Hidden in the trees of the jungles, the depths of the lakes, and the tunnels below the surface, there are a lot of creatures willing and able to eat the intruders to their hidden home. Mostly because they’re hungry, but also because they know the characters are the weakest part of the movie.

To put it simply, at least half of the characters deserve to have their existence questioned. I love Marc Evan Jackson, but did his joke about soldiers not being scientists make him necessary to this expedition? Is Brie Larson only here to distract Kong with her blonde locks because: “It was beauty that killed the beast”? Does Tom Hiddleston always look that good in t-shirts?

The majority of the introduction scenes setting motivation, intrigue, and conflict are superfluous, and it doesn’t get much better for them from there. The characters continue to be as shallow as the uncovered graves Kong leaves all his defeated enemies in. The dialogue often feels forced, with cutaway lines that are awkward and unnecessary more often than not, and when Nick Fury gives Captain Marvel the order to can it during her big moment we all cheered because we didn’t want to hear what was written for her. Sorry, Larson, but Samuel L. Jackson speaks for the people.

Looking back I have to wonder if Jackson and John C. Reilly were given free rein when it came to their performances seeing how much they stand out from the rest. Reilly’s humor at least fits with the soldiers reactions to being attacked by a behemoth, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ad libbed some of the lines that quickly moved him from ridiculously out of place to vital to the movie. And then there’s Jackson with his crazy-eyed, man on a mission stare that demands the camera push in as close as possible. It is definitely something else. Maybe something from a different movie, even. Like Kill Bill. A lot probably rests on if you accept that crazy eye…

The more I think about Kong, the more I start to question my opinion of this movie. Is this going to be my Fantastic Four? My Jupiter Ascending? Am I turning into this website’s writer, Zac, who swears those movies are great? Maybe… But I doubt it. The action is just too good. I think back to the sudden shift into chaotic action as the film embraces the madness that is King Kong, as well as the beautiful sets, colors, camera work, editing, etc., and I get excited once more. I stop caring about the glaring failings. I stop caring that the movie is nowhere near perfect. Because. It. Was. Awesome.

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