Movie Review: "Kong: Skull Island"
Kong: Skull Island
Bill Randa (John Goodman) is leading an expedition to a mysterious island known as Skull Island. The expedition is meant to explore the island and uncover whatever resources the island holds. Bill Randa is joined by a former British special forces operative, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), an anti-war photographer, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and a military escort, led by Preston Packers (Samuel L. Jackson). The large group journey to the island in helicopters, and they start dropping seismic charges to help survey the island. However, there is something on the island that does not take kindly to the intruders.
Kong, a monstrously large gorilla that protects the island. He serves as the islands guardian, and meets group of humans with extreme hostility for dropping explosives on his island. After Kong decimated their helicopters, group is now stranded on the island. Fortunately, they meet a World War II veteran Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), who has been stranded on the island for approximately 30 years. With his familiarity of the island and the deadly creatures that live in its ecosystem, Hank Marlow is a valuable asset. If they fail to get to the extraction point in time, they will be abandoned on the island for who knows how long. Unfortunately, the massive gorilla is far from the only deadly monster in the island, so their journey will not be an easy one.
The Pros & Cons
Very Full Cast (-8pts)
John C. Reilly (+5pts)
Too many creatures (-2pts)
Action & Pacing (+8pts)
Helicopter Crash (-3pts)
Pro: Kong (+8pts)
Some may know this, and some may not know, but this movie took place in the same cinematic universe as the recent Godzilla movie. The reason I bring this up, was my main concern going into this movie, as my expectations from this movie were shaped by my experience watching 2014's Godzilla. My problem with that movie was that Godzilla was hardly in it! Knowing this and knowing that Kong: Skull Island was made by the same studio and producers, I was concerned that we would end up seeing very little of Kong in this movie.
We saw Kong right from the beginning. Then we saw him often, and we see him kicking tons of monster butt throughout plenty of awesome action sequences. He was meant to be the King and protector of this island, and his actions and the great action sequences really made it feel that way. Most of this movies' success (as far as being a good movie or not) depended on how well Kong was used. Much like 2014's Godzilla, if this character was not used properly, the movie would suffer. Fortunately, the opposite was true with this movie, as I thought that the filmmakers used Kong really well.
Con: Very Full Cast (-8pts)
I think this movies' main issue was how full the cast was. There were way too many characters that the filmmakers tried to focus on, which ultimately led to none of them getting the focus that they needed. I would have liked to have learned more about any of these characters, but because there were so many, I did not learn enough about any of them. This may not seem like a huge issue, but poor character development led to me not being properly invested in almost any character, with John C. Reilly's character being the only exception. As a result, when any monster showed up to threaten the group, I did not care if anything happened to most of these characters. I think this really hurt the movie, but fortunately, the movie's strengths were enough to still make this a decent movie.
Pro: John C. Reilly (+5pts)
John C. Reilly was easily one of the better parts of this movie, but his character was a side character at best. As I previously stated, the movie was filled with main characters that I did not care about, as they got little to no character development. John C. Reilly's character, however, got a fair amount of development and the movie was significantly more entertaining whenever he was on screen. I think the movie could have done without a few of the poorly utilized main characters in order to make John C. Reilly's character more of a focal point. I cared about his story more than the others, he was more entertaining than the others, and he was really the only one that I really wanted to see get home. John C. Reilly was great in this movie and I think most people who have seen the movie will agree with that.
Con: Too Many Creatures (-2pts)
Some may not mind this element of the movie at all, and to be fair, I only included this here because I could not think of anything else to list as an issue with this movie. Nonetheless, there were a lot of bizarre creatures in this movie. Almost all of them seemed to have a body part that resembled nature and (conveniently) most of the predatory creatures only appeared alone, which did not make much sense, but was clearly done to give the protagonists a chance of survival. On one hand, I get that the filmmakers wanted to give new and interesting threats to keep the movie feeling fresh, but some of these creatures felt ridiculous and out of place to me. On top of that, the number of bizarre creatures made Kong feel somewhat less special.
Pro: Action & Pacing (+8pts)
This was an action packed, entertaining movie from beginning to end. There was helicopter action, military action, and most of all, monster action. The action in this movie was great, it happened often, but it was spread out enough so that it never felt redundant. It was complimented by mild comedy to keep the tone fun, and I enjoyed the group of protagonists fluctuating goals, as they discovered everything that this island contained. Kong: Skull Island was an action heavy movie that utilized light comedy and a fun adventure, which complimented the great action sequences really well. The filmmakers found a great balance, which resulted in a film that was fun and filled with exciting action from beginning to end.
Con: Helicopter Crash (-3pts)
One of the more ridiculous parts of the movie involved the helicopters, but I will be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers. The action in this sequence was great, but I was a little taken back by how many people survived separate helicopter crashes. Now, I know that I am no expert when it comes to crashes such as these, as I have not exactly seen action like this in my own life, but even I know that less people should have been able to walk away from the carnage in this scene. I get why the filmmakers wanted these characters to survive at that point in the movie, but maybe change the plot slightly to explain their survival in a more believable way.
I know, I should not be complaining about realism when talking about a movie featuring a giant gorilla fighting giant monsters, but filmmakers need to follow the rules they setup in their own movies. This movie was about normal people in an extraordinary situation. In other words, there was nothing extraordinary about the people that survived the helicopter incident, which made the number of survivors ridiculous. The filmmakers basically treated explosive helicopter crashes as if they were nothing more than an unfortunate spill off your bicycle when you were a kid. Did this hurt the movie much? No, but it was an obvious and easily avoidable plot hole.
Grade: B- (83pts)
This movie was everything it needed to be. Was it perfect? No. Its biggest issue was simply that the story was too crowded, which made for main characters that were underdeveloped, which made me not fear for these character's lives at all.
The standout of the cast was John C. Reilly, who made the movie delightfully more entertaining whenever he was on screen. He was both the heart and the humor of the movie, and I only wish that the story gave his character more focus. This movie was full of great, epic, monster action from beginning to end. It was an epic, decently entertaining blockbuster, although it did have its problems.