Kong: Skull Island Screen 57 of 11 reviews

Kong: Skull Island

2017

Kong: Skull Island Poster
  • Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ The Kings Of Summer left me unimpressed back in the day, so I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked the splashy first hour of Kong: Skull Island. As A.A. Dowd notes in his review, Vogt-Roberts somehow succeeds in turning what is usually the worst part of any King Kong movie into the best... But the movie suffers from having way too many characters (what is Tom Hiddleston even doing in this movie?) and unremarkable monsters.

  • The film is fast and playful, rushing through its few ponderous eco-aware moments to get to the next monster chase or attack... The film doesn’t try to compare with the depth and resonance of any given King Kong, because it lacks the tragic last stand. But it holds its own in a weight category with pulp footnotes including The Son of Kong (1933), King Kong Lives! (1986) and Toho’s reuse of its shaggy shabby Kong suit in 1967’s King Kong Escapes.

  • The movie is adept at goosing you; it deploys action-movie feints and horror-film frights capably amid its clichés and deaths. Every so often it also pauses and allows Kong and Mason to move you... But perhaps because their relationship is more empathetic than romantic, these encounters don’t have the resonance they should. Alas, beauty no longer has her beast, the beast no longer has his beauty and this darkness has no heart even if it will have a sequel.

  • This one is a half-magnificent, half-misguided example of a “show me the monster” movie. At its best it reminded me of “The Mysterious Island” and “The Land that Time Forgot,” films that were little more than collections of monster-driven action scenes hitched to a perfunctory story about explorers wandering a jungle, doing stuff they were warned not to do, and getting eaten.

  • Despite its tone deaf aggrandizing, Kong: Skull Island is not an insulting disaster. There are many affecting moments that deal with the lingering cost of war and the possibility of peace over profit. Despite being a supporting character, Reilly’s Marlow comes to embody the film’s best and most hopeful qualities. Through his eyes, Kong’s necessary place in this world starts to make a lot more sense.

  • The film offers up plenty of wartime atmosphere and grim backstory, and the constant carnage of soldiers and explorers getting tossed and crushed and eaten by pseudo-prehistoric beasts is certainly anxiety-inducing — at least for the plastic people onscreen. But despite all that, it remains a charming, insistent trifle, a monster movie that's unafraid to be cruel while also mining the genre's inherent silliness.

  • The politics aren't subtle, and as for gravitas, Skull Island's script contains some of the biggest stabs at deathly seriousness of any Kong movie thus far. And that gets to the bizarre schizoid nature of this particular popcorn flick: namely, is it even possible, let alone advisable, to make a King Kong movie about an idea so serious? Is the Kong franchise capable of commenting on anything other than its own potent spectacle?

  • At least Reilly seems to be having fun: He not only gets the funniest lines in the script, but delivers them with an offhand relish that suggests he’s not taking any of this seriously. But then, neither are the filmmakers. You want King Kong beating up on creepy-crawly CGI creatures? You got King Kong beating up on creepy-crawly CGI creatures. Kong may be God to the humans in the film, but the only God Jordan Vogt-Roberts & co. seem genuinely interested in serving is that of The Almighty Dollar.

  • Looks-wise, the movie is stylish and expensively imagined — but its ironic taste for reference-heavy cheese reveals where its heart is. Kong: Skull Island isn’t a B-movie — but with its intentionally bad writing and jarring lack of cohesion, it lamely pretends to be one.

  • What’s fatal to this movie is that it lacks visionary gusto... The period, like everything else, feels pasted-on—a way of fitting into the existing MonsterVerse chronology rather than pioneering a fantastic, brave new world. In the other Kongs, “It was Beauty killed the Beast.” In Kong: Skull Island, ’twas the franchise.

  • “Mark my words,” says government official Bill Randa (John Goodman) as he reads news about Watergate in 1973, “there'll never be a more screwed-up time in Washington.” This clumsily winking aside to audiences, an attempt to give Kong: Skull Island a spark of modernity by making it feel relevant to our current political climate, is emblematic of a film that can't even capture its '70s setting without indulging tediously literal-minded clichés and featuring overused period songs on its soundtrack.

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