With awards season ending in a completely controversy free way…it’s now well and truly the start of blockbuster season. These big budget movies don’t wait for summer anymore, they’ve far too many cities to demolish to be wasting any time. What better way to kick things off then with probably the most iconic movie monster of all time, King Kong?! ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is one of many movies to feature the infamous ape and it’s the second film in the ‘MonsterVerse’ started by Legendary Pictures with Gareth Edward’s ‘Godzilla’ back in 2014.
The cast assembled for this monster epic could almost rival the size of the titular beast. Tom Hiddleston & Brie Larson are tasked with leading this group of performers and they do so in spectacularly awful fashion. Hiddleston is a charisma vacuum for the entire film and his performance wouldn’t inspire future leading roles for him in this genre. Larson doesn’t fare much better though. How she has gone from Oscar winning Best Actress to this I’ll never quite get my head round. Larson struts about the jungle acting as if she is endorsing a new fragrance chipping in every so often with utterly stupid dialogue. Don’t start me on the shoehorned in relationship her character is meant to have with Kong either! The blame doesn’t entirely lie with the performers but they should have known better after reading the painfully bad script.
Samuel L. Jackson also stars and whereas he can often save a film here he might just be the worst thing about it, or his character at least. He plays the most ludicrous character that is too m’fucking mental for even him to pull off. The list of cast and character problems doesn’t end there though, enter John C. Reilly. When he joins the cast the film almost becomes a parody of the monster movie genre. I wouldn’t have been surprised if his character had of started tap-dancing and began a musical number. He adds a lot of humour to the film, but in the process adds more issues to the already confused tone. John Goodman, Toby Kebbell & the the rest of the supporting cast actually come across a lot better than the main protagonists. However their existence as characters alone contributes to the overcrowding of the picture. There is almost zero introduction or development for any character and unfortunately Jing Tian is only here for the sake of diversity. All of this meant you literally care for none of them and if you’re anything like me you’ll be routing for the monsters.
As I’ve mentioned already the tone of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a little bit of a puzzler. The film begins with a brimming confidence thinking it is a lot cooler than it really is. Borrowing the tactics from the soundtrack of ‘Suicide Squad’ there are far too many songs used throughout this movie. This causes the same music video vibe problem that the DC movie had. When the action starts, and boy does it start quickly, we get further elements contributing to the tone. Gareth Edwards received a lot of criticism for teasing the reveal of Godzilla too much. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has maybe been too wary of this complaint here though as Kong makes a fully fledged appearance ridiculously early on in the film. Within these action scenes there are attempts at humour which come across as awkward more than anything else. The film doesn’t know whether it wants to be epic, funny, scary or just fun and in the process ends up being none of these. Briefly returning to the action sequences some credit is due for this element. When you take the monster versus monster fight sequences out of context they are rather impressive, the final fight is the best thing about the film. However, when any of the human characters were included in these scenes they always became ridiculous. There are countless examples of this but watch out for one in particular where Hiddleston sports a rather fetching gas mask and takes down some humongous beast, hair completely intact though.
On the more technical side of things there are a few positives. The design of the creatures is good and there are a couple of visually appealing shots. However saying that for being shot almost entirely in Hawaii the film doesn’t boast anything that special in terms of cinematography. There was potential for this to be breathtaking but I don’t remember ever being that taken with the setting. There is definite problems with the editing as well. The passing of time & distance are not well managed and result in a quite disjointed film and subsequent narrative. That’s one element I haven’t even touched on yet, and I’m not going to. All of the problems I’ve discussed mean that somehow amongst this cast of A-listers, the non stop action and the king of movie monsters ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is unbelievably boring.
Hopefully this isn’t an indicator of what is to come this blockbuster season. ‘Kong: Skull Island’ has managed to get it wrong on more levels then I knew existed. An incredibly talented ensemble cast are completely wasted on terrible characters which inspire some truly woeful performances. The tone of the film doesn’t know what to be at but believe me when I say you’ll be laughing a lot. There are plenty of moments that conjure up laughter which definitely wasn’t intended, at times veering into the so bad it’s good territory. However the overall film doesn’t have that feel to it. Instead you’ll be wanting Kong to smash everyone up in the most efficient way possible so you can get home and bang your chest in rage at just how much they screwed this one up.
Rating – 3/10
Question: What is your favourite monster movie?
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