Friday, April 7, 2017
Kong: Skull Island Film Review
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson
Series: Legendary's Monsterverse
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 118 Minutes
Calamitous events are standard fare for most theater outings these days, and with the influx of "cinematic universes" everything that stars a marquee name (i.e, Godzilla, The Avengers, Batman v Superman) has to be a miserable film about miserable people dealing with even more miserable events that result in the destruction of a major city...
Then along came a Kong...
The producers of 2014's American Godzilla reboot must have been watching the comments sections, because where Godzilla chose to center on the human characters and only features around ten minutes of its titular character (most of those ten minutes are basically shots of him swimming), Kong is a big, dumb monsterfest that hardly wastes any time with stupid humans and their stupid, stupid minds!
So, an obsessive military man (Samuel L. Jackson), a mysterious scientist (John Goodman), some random Brit (Tom Hiddleston), and a photographer (Brie Larson) all wind up embarking on an expedition to an uncharted island called Skull Island where a freshly post-Vietnam United States wants to claim new or known resources before the Russians, and a shadowy group known as Monarch hope to find evidence of massive, unidentified life forms. Long story short, they do find some evidence, moments before that evidence walks over, dumps all over their fancy helicopters, and strands our bipedal binoculars into this strange world on the island. With no hope of escape and a giant pissed off monkey, as well as several other unnameable horrors, hot on their heels, this most random assemblage of people shaped robots must find a way to survive.
When I say bipedal binoculars, I mean it. All of the characters are good for one of two things;
1) Getting horribly, horribly murdered.
2) Being a total blank slate that (miraculously) is never in any real danger of dying.
There's absolutely no heart or character to this movie, in that you don't give a fuck about anybody, except for maybe one guy, the great John C. Reilly, and much like Godzilla, that ruins some of the fun. I kept feeling that if a whole movie had been made about Reilly's character, it might have been more interesting. "Interesting" is no longer in this film's vocabulary though, and has been permanently replaced with the word "spectacle".
Thankfully, the monster effects are great. There's tons of variety in the beasts, and each one looks great. The villainous lizards things from the trailers look the goofiest, but there's times when they still intimidate. Kong is spectacular. This new Kong looses some points to the Peter Jackson version in the personality department, but he kicks about 1000% more ass than any version so far. Massive comes just short of describing this Kong, who has been upsized to compete with his future co-star, The King of Monsters himself.
Also to this movie's credit, it doesn't waste a shitload of time setting up for sequels, in spite of it's status as a prequel to Godzilla and the first official film in the Legendary Kaiju Monster Movie Shithouse(TM). It just kind of goes along with its dumb little Man versus Monster versus Lizard Monster versus Man versus Giant Spider story and looks back at you every once in a while to make sure you're still reassuringly smiling and nodding.
Perhaps this movie's greatest sin is trying to fill the void of it's characterless existence with insufferable, incessant references to 60's and 70's music. It's as bad as Suicide Squad with the amount of pointless music cameos, and in one scene later in the film the characters are stranded and they still somehow have music playing. The music is always diagetic as well, it's never just like a film soundtrack in the background, it's always actually playing in whatever room or area the characters are in. Also, any attempts at comedy by anyone other than John C. Reilly, fall utterly flat. There's one moment where Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston try to be funny that was so cringe worthy it gave me lockjaw and made me shit in my theater recliner.
So what is this? A goofy little monster destruction/action film that somehow I enjoyed more than the last big Star Wars release. It's endearingly stupid, like a puppy that ran headfirst into a chair, and filled with enough eye candy to give you retinal diabeetus. I'd reccomend it. Sure.