The second installment in the “Monsters” universe, following 2014’s “Godzilla”, comes “Kong: Skull Island.” Both have been relatively well-received by critics (both are “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes). While I found Garett Edward’s “Godzilla” to be a decent enough start to this “Monsters” universe, I did not feel the same about “Kong: Skull Island.”
“Kong: Skull Island” begins with an interesting flashback to World War II that introduces us to Kong. The film then takes a drop in quality when it introduces us to John Goodman’s uninteresting character that I don’t remember the name of; his performance is also terrible, just like most of the performances; Tom Hiddleson at least tries. the moment John Goodman came in screen I knew where this film was going. It introduces all of these characters (that the film makes no attempt to make us care about) in the laziest, stupidest possible way. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts rushes through the first act so fast to get to the explosions and violence that we have no time to even learn about any of the characters. The only interesting character in the film is played by John C. Reilly, and he is only there to explain the plot and makes jokes.
In a lot of places the film has very corny dialogue that I think could have worked if the film felt more self-aware. I think that’s another thing “Kong” feels like it’s lacking is a sense of self-awareness. If the film knew how dumb it was, I think it would have worked a lot better, but it didn’t, unfortunately.
When the first act is over, and the team makes it to the island, I thought this film would get better. One of the soldiers puts on “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath and finally sets in the Vietnam tone I had been waiting for. Our characters are then introduced to Kong, and the film goes back to being feeling cheap because of the horrible sound editing.
Maybe I’m the only one, but I never felt the impact of Kong’s steps or hits like I did with Godzilla’s. The sound editing completely took me out of most action sequences because of how bland and underwhelming they felt.
There’s so little development to anything in this film, that there’s a lot that feels incredibly out of place. There’s a scene between Kong, Tom Hiddleson and Brie Larson that feels incredibly forced. There’s also a scene where they try to develop a romance between Hiddleson and Larson that is bewilderingly terrible.
“Kong’s” score also makes the film feel hallow because of the intensity and dread it lacks. I had hoped the score would be more in the style of “Apocalypse Now”, which the film takes much inspiration from, but it wasn’t. It was just a forgettable blockbuster score.
Vogt-Roberts boasts his unique style in the second act of the film with flashy colors and odd but pleasing camera angles, then forgets that in the third act for a showdown of not-so epic proportions. Yeah, I never would’ve thought I’d be saying that ten minutes of King Kong beating the hell out of a giant lizard wasn’t epic.
I don’t think “Kong” is all bad though, there are cool things in it. It has some stylish and flashy cinematography at times and there’s a sequence where Tom Hiddleson slices through some demon-birds; that was cool I guess.
“Kong: Skull Island” is very disappointing, but I think there is still a lot of potential and hope for this “Monsters” universe. Hopefully Michael Dougherty can surprise me with “Godzilla: King of Monsters.”
I don’t think “Kong” is terrible, but it’s a huge missed opportunity and is no where near good.The characters are just expendable, boring people for giant lizards to eat. The film is led by so-so performances and feels as if though there wasn’t any care at all put into it. It has some cool and stylistic elements put into it, but none of it pays off in the end.