Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann

Rated: PG-13 (intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language)

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.

 

Kong: Skull Island

By Cole Schneider

The latest reprise of the classic, “King Kong” is back and it’s less than stellar. “Kong: Skull Island” wastes a talented cast. Its dialogue is pathetic. Its pacing leaves a lot to be desired. Still, as a creature feature, a lot of the ‘dumb’ elements of the movie seem less so in light of some other recent attempts at capturing the old Hollywood monster movie, because that’s what this “Kong” is.

It’s less old-school “King Kong” than it is new-school “Jurassic Park”. If Kong is king of the island, scale is king of the picture. To further underscore how mediocre the film is, it’s not even in the same league as the better recent monster movies like “Pacific Rim” or “Godzilla,” but neither is it a full-blown disaster like “Jurassic World”. While its characters are cardboard cutouts constantly making decisions that seem ludicrous, “Kong” does offer slightly less ludicrous explanations for them.

This ensemble of characters, like the movie itself, is simple-minded, but consistent in its approach. Eventually John C. Reilly shows up for a role taken directly from Dennis Hopper in “Apocalypse Now” and gives “Kong” a much-needed jolt even if he’s overplayed. Meanwhile the film’s anti-war subtext is constantly swallowed up by spectacle, which is fine when the spectacle works, it just doesn’t work often enough. Ultimately, 1933’s “King Kong” remains the class of the genre by leaps and bounds, but this trip to Skull Island is much, much better than the one Peter Jackson directed in 2005 if for no reason other than it’s over an hour shorter.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Kong: Skull Island

By Matt Greene

I was looking forward to this latest over-sized ape. Coming from the studio who brought us the 2014 Godzilla, starring a stacked cast, and boasting a stylishly fun trailer, I was all-in. Unfortunately, Kong is a special kinda bad, like a throwaway 90s adventure with as much brains as subtlety. It’s corny but cynical; it’s tongue-in-cheek but mean-spirited; it even made me miss Kong ice skating with Naomi Watts. It’s an awful scattershot of varied tones & overwhelming styles.

In a re-imagining of the discovery of Kong, a group of scientists, explorers and military-men in 1971 make a trek to the mysterious & monster-filled Skull Island. It’s full of some of the biggest actors around, both up-and-coming & veterans. Sadly, it’s one of the biggest wastes of a great cast in years, as they are given an unbearably clichéd and incomprehensible script. The soldiers (Jackson) are angry, the scientists (Goodman) are reckless, and the pretty white people (Hiddleston, Larson) are romantically shoved together. The character purposes are unclear, the dialogue is mind-numbing, and the message is essentially, “Violence: bad. Empathy: good.” Even the basic choice of creating intrigue is pushed-aside, opting to obnoxiously shove us into the monsters’ faces from the get-go. It’s all as graceful as Kong himself.

Not that it isn’t stylish; just the opposite. Director Vogt-Roberts decided that if you CAN use a cinematic trick then you SHOULD.  Random zoom-in / push-outs, incessant slo-mo, quick edits, old-style reel-to-reel effects, and laughable 3D-only shots; it’s a boring theme-park ride, including narrative heft. There’s lots of great stuff in theaters: Logan, Get Out, Split, Lego Batman (which has Kong in it!); don’t waste your time on this loud-garbage.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

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