Kong: Skull Island Movie Review
Welcome to a Pipin’ Hot movie review! Today we take a look at King Kong: Skull Island, which opens in the U.S. on March 10th.
Set in 1973 during the time of the American forces’ withdrawal from Vietnam, the movie follows a group of soldiers as they explore a hitherto uncharted part of the world known as Skull Island. There they find a lone American survivor living among the natives.
The group quickly finds that it has taken on more than it can handle when it comes across a monstrously large ape known to the natives as Kong (he’s not King Kong yet). But the real trouble starts when the soldiers realize the island is home to even more terrifying and bloodthirsty creatures. Let’s see if the movie is worth the price of admission.
What Worked for King Kong Skull Island
- This movie gives its titular monster a satisfying amount of screen time, unlike the Godzilla movie that came out two years ago. Kong in this movie is younger and far bigger than any previous version, and the story portrays him as more of a god-like superhero than a traditional monster. The fights between Godzilla and the other monster inhabitants of the island are the movie’s high points and show you blockbuster fight scenes on a scale that hasn’t been attempted since Pacific Rim. (5 Stars)
And apparently also Give a Nod to King Kong’s 1960s Japanese Incarnations with a reference to tentacle P**n
- The characters of Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) and Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) form able-human counterpoints to the giant ape and are really fun to watch. They both become stand-ins for the audience’s response to Kong. While Packard wants to bring down the creature with brute force, Marlow provides wry commentary on the very existence of the giant ape and the mythic nature of the storyline, like a wise, homeless spirit guide. (5 Stars)
“Just Call me Gandalf the Crazy.”
- This film is meant to be one of the first building blocks that will eventually form Legendary’s pictures MonterVerse, featuring Godzilla, King Kong, Pacific Rim’s Kaiju and many others. As such, the movie serves as an able introduction to the world of Kong. The cinematography beautifully captures the haunting darkness of the island, and the many monsters that live there are imaginative in design and gargantuan in scale. (5 Stars)
Although Sam Jackson is Still the Baddest M***er F***er in the Movie
What Didn’t Work on King Kong Skull Island
- The human characters other than Packard and Marlow are neither well-developer nor very compelling. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson have little to do other than look worried and comment on whatever Kong happens to be doing at the moment. As a result of this, the film tends to drag when Kong is not somewhere in the frame beating his chest and throwing things around. (2 Stars)
Or Creating Graffiti on the Island Walls
- The problem with making a movie as an introduction to a bigger universe is that the narrative arc for the current movie gets short-changed, and that’s what happens here. You can’t help but compare this version of King Kong with the original 1930’s version, which told the tale of a monster who falls in love with a human woman and pays the price for it. All those little emotions that made the original movie a classic are missing from this one. There are some attempts at heavy-handed commentary on the dangers of overusing a nation’s military might, but all of that gets lost in the cacophony of noises made by what is essentially a summer blockbuster movie that came out in March. (1 Star)
Even the King knows not to go up against Thor: Ragnarok
Average Movie Rating for King Kong Skull Island: 3.6 Stars
As you watch the credits roll for Kong: Skull Island, you can’t help but feel you weren’t given the full picture. That suspicion is confirmed when the audience is treated to a post-credits scene which hints at the eventual team-up of the Kong and Godzilla movies.
I’ve never been a fan of this habit of film studios to be so focused on building a universe that the storyline for the actual movie itself becomes secondary. Fortunately, Kong features enough exciting action set pieces set in a compelling environment that you get carried away by the pace of the movie and can forgive the narrative flaws.
So what are your expectations from the new Kong movie? Did you want to see a stand along King Kong movie, or are you psyched about seeing the expanded MonsterVerse? Join the conversation in the comments below!