Kong: Skull Island (2017, Jordan Vogt-Roberts) Review
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Kong: Skull Island is set in the 1970s as the end of the Vietnam War approaches. Bill Randa (John Goodman), head of the Monarch corporation, has convinced the American government to send an expedition into an uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific. Here he enlists the aids of James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) to help his team of scientists in the exploration of a completely unknown environment. Unfortunately, moments within entering the system, a giant ape terrorizes the entire team.
The film rushes all its exposition, barely giving details to any of the large cast of characters involved. A few minutes in, and these characters are already thrown off into the jungle to face off a variety of monstrous threats. These sequences do leave an impression upon the viewer, but it’s easy to watch the whole film and forget some of the character’s names due to lack of introduction. There are some great one-liners, but none of the dialogue really separates the character from one another. They all seem to be the same, the film just focusing on taking down this monster they’re facing.
Having that said, it does what it sets out to do. It’s a lot more gruesome, too, in spite of the PG rating. The film uses Vietnam as its backdrop and it’s a great choice, making the monster action pleasing to look at. The setting is also really effective for setting up the stage for the violence to follow. The film is a series of sequences of people walking into random threats, some being much more surprising than usual. Likewise, it thematically focuses on man’s hubris (especially through Samuel L. Jackson’s character) and one’s strong will to be at the top and to be king. The film gets its message from that belief, and it depicted it well.
The theme of arrogance gives a measure of weight into the grand scheme of things, as giant CGI monsters fight against each other. It indicates that more thought was put into this movie than what’s seen on screen. The colors are very stunning, the orange hue lasting throughout the entire film being seemingly reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and sets a suspenseful atmosphere; however, that does not negate the fact that the characters are really thin. Of the cast, Samuel L. Jackson is used the most, his big speeches being effective. John C. Reilly could’ve had a more grounded backstory, and Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson would’ve been more capable than what is given. The film never really dives into the complexity of these characters and presents one-dimensional caricatures.
Although the cast really did the best with what was given, Kong: Skull Island suffers from a disinterest in actually getting to know them or caring for them, largely due to the exposition and the screenplay. What this film offers is monster mayhem, and the result is a rip-roaring fun time, packed with as monster action as one would wish to see from a movie like this.
Watched April 2017