Monday, July 31, 2017

Film Review—Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's exciting stuff, really."

A team of scientists and their military escort explore an uncharted island where they discover the hidden creatures of the world...

Kong: Skull Island is a reimagining of the classic King Kong story. In 1974, U.S. government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) and his partner Brooks set off on an expedition to Skull Island. In order to get there, they enlist the help of Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his helicopter squadron as well as the help of skilled tracker Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). Photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) also tags along. The group travel to the island, but their expedition is quickly interrupted by a giant ape known as Kong. Their helicopters are knocked down and the survivors are forced to fight for survival. There's a bit more to the story, but those are your basics and I don't want to spoil anything else. Besides, I don't want to recount the whole plot anyway. It leads to a solid climax and a decent ending.

The biggest issue in Kong: Skull Island is its set of painfully generic characters. Randa and Packard seem to have the only depth in the film. By that, I mean, they have background and purpose. They are fueled by something. The rest of the cast is made up of an obviously 'charismatic,' extremely skilled tracker; a self-righteous, "funny" female photographer; a Chinese character, San Lin, who seems to have only been shoved into the plot because the film was co-produced by a Chinese studio; and many other cardboard cutouts. I mean, San Lin probably only has five or so lines of dialogue throughout the entire movie. She probably speaks more during the after-credits scene than the rest of the film. Some of these characters also make some stupid choices, but that's not as big of an issue.

Kong: Skull Island works as a blockbuster, though. It is a great monster movie. I haven't seen Peter Jackson's King Kong in years, but I think this might be on par with that film, although this one is far more focused on action. In terms of action, you get plenty of shootouts, explosions, chase scenes, and big monster-vs-monster brawls. It's exciting stuff, really. There is also a fantastic sense of discovery in the film. It has a sense of wonder—for want of a better term. The monster-vs-monster fights also have an intimidating sense of scale, too. It's tight, it's fast, and it's strong.

The acting was good, too, despite the generic characters. Tom Hiddleston performed well as the leading man. John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson were also a lot of fun. Yes, even Jing Tian, who plays San Lin, performed well. Brie Larson was a little over-emotive at times, but she was good. John C. Reilly injected a lot of fun into the movie. The music was good. The film was shot beautifully. I loved the use of color. The special effects were spectacular. The screenplay was written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly while John Vogt-Roberts directed. The writing could have used some fine-tuning, especially in terms of character, but it was otherwise fine. I suppose some more originality could have helped, too. Vogt-Roberts was great as director. He clearly had a strong, stylish vision and he delivered.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island was a great experience. I had some issues with the characters, I just wish they had more personality, but it was otherwise a lot of fun. If you're looking for an exciting blockbuster, something that's not about superheroes, this is for you.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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