“Kong: Skull Island”: Entertaining Enough

Kong Skull Island

“Kong: Skull Island” is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman.  The film is about a group of soldiers and scientists who explore an uncharted island and happen upon the gigantic creature of Kong and then must fight for survival in order to get off the island.

This is a film that I was very excited for, as its trailers appeared to be very entertaining with some real stunning visuals, and its cast is loaded to the brim with talent.  This looked to me a more upbeat and light-hearted version of 2014’s “Godzilla”, and that was something that I was all for.

The Good

This is a gorgeous movie on the visual aspects, with some real nice cinematography done by Larry Fong to make the mighty Kong really shine.  Unlike “Godzilla”, which was a film I actually very much enjoyed, “Kong” shows its humongous monster almost immediately, and it was something that worked very well for the film that it was in.

Kong is beautifully created in this movie, as his much larger stature helps make him such a threatening foe, and the situations in which he fights both with the humans and other monsters are the clear highlights of the movie.  The stunning colors on display make for some real eye-popping moments, and from all the visual standpoints, this was exactly what I was hoping for.

While not all the characters in this incredible cast were home runs, there were three that clearly stood out from the bunch.  John C. Reilly gave this movie the much-needed energy boost towards the second half, as his performance as a soldier who has been on the island for decades was excellent.  Reilly brings the comedy and moves the plot along without it feeling forced, and, while I was scared he wouldn’t fit into this movie coming in, I left thinking he was my favorite character.

Both Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston bring their strong acting abilities into this film, and while they don’t do anything all that special, they were certainly my favorites of the main cast.  Hiddleston as the survival guide is very likable and is believable in the role, as is Larson as an anti-war photographer.  Larson and Hiddleston have solid chemistry together and keep the group interesting more than anything, and allowed for the most human element in a film centered around a giant monkey.

The Bad

Dan Gilroy, who did tremendous work on “Nightcrawler”, just did not make a great script.  Almost all of the dialogue in this film is very wooden and very stale, and almost all of the jokes done by anyone not named John C. Reilly do not work at all.  The script was lacking any emotional depth and did not add much to any scene, and it made the actiondo all of the talking in the pivotal scenes.

While the camerawork and bright colors made for some genuinely gorgeous shots, there was a bit of an overemphasis on slow motion.  This is the same cinematographer from “300”, which is also beautifully shot, but both feel as if every crazy action moment has to be slowed down beyond belief, and it gets a bit annoying in some of the larger fights.  While it definitely can be effective in some shots, one with Hiddleston and a gas mask comes to mind, but overall the change in speed got more on my nerves than anything else.

The opening twenty minutes or so really crawls along, as it mostly relies on the dialogue that I have already said was not very good at all, and when there is no action to fall back on, the movie as a whole suffers.  This, as opposed to “Godzilla” which made the human characters more interesting, absolutely needed Kong as soon as possible, or else the film would have fallen to total boredom by the second act.

Conclusion

“Kong: Skull Island” has some fantastic action, beautiful visuals, and is helped out by a vastly talented cast, but it isn’t quite as fun or exciting as I had wanted it to be.  The dialogue is pretty terrible, and the film wastes a lot of its loaded cast and doesn’t give them all that much to work with.  Still, “Kong” finds its moments and is dramatically helped by John C. Reilly’s presence, and it does just enough to maintain my interest from start to finish.  While I preferred “Godzilla” and its subtle approach, “Kong: Skull Island” holds its own, and is a rather entertaining watch.

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Get tickets and showtimes for “Kong: Skull Island” here

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