Film Review: Kong: Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is a film of fast paced, high-octane monster fights, an A-list cast and not much else. It’s not that Kong: Skull Island is a bad movie, far from it, but the pacing of the film is its Achilles heel. I was hesitant to see this film as I enjoy King Kong but I was really worried about the length. Peter Jackson’s 2005 version of King Kong was nearly three hours and took the first full hour to really get going. I assumed this movie would follow suit. I was wrong.
Within the first 20 minutes of the film, we are already on the island and Kong has made his first appearance that would make any true fan squeal in an ungodly manner. All the while the film flaunts its mid ‘70s setting with a soundtrack that would make anyone want to dig out their dad’s bellbottoms and grow a handlebar mustache.
This is where the problem lies. The 2005 version got off to a slow start, whereas this one feels rushed in how fast we get to the action. It leaves little room for character development. While performances from Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston are noteworthy, they are shallow at best.
Exposition is haphazardly thrown in to create some depth to characters but ultimately it feels lazy and rushed.
Even though the 2005 version took a long time to get rolling, the characters were better introduced and I felt more for their story than I did with this new band. Exposition is haphazardly thrown in to create some depth to these characters but ultimately it feels lazy and rushed. However, John C. Reilly’s character Hank Marlow is a welcomed addition to the film as he provides much of the comical relief. His character crash landed on the island during the U.S. Pacific campaign of World War II and knows nothing of the outside world being stuck on the island for the last 30 years.
The lack of character development might sound like a large downfall, but does anyone who goes to see a monster film really look for character development? I doubt it. Most people will buy tickets for this film to see the 80-foot gorilla in action, and it delivers. The action sequences are entertaining and will make you scream in delight as Kong gets the upper hand against the movie’s main antagonist.
The tone of the film I found very surprising. Again, to compare to the 2005 version that felt more like a dramatic survival film, Kong: Skull Island is very much the opposite. The comedic parts are well placed and I felt that the characters were never truly in danger. The film resembles more of an action movie painting the main characters as superhero-like, able to survive just about anything.
Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining two hours that will indulge your appetite for large monster fights and cleverly-crafted comedic scenes. For those looking to connect with characters on a deeper level, I would perhaps look elsewhere, however, I doubt that’s why anyone comes to see this film. It is very much about Kong and his ability to kick butt rather than the characters involved. That is where the film truly shines.
Without giving away spoilers, I would also encourage fans of King Kong, Godzilla and a few other monsters that will go unnamed (true fans will know) to stay after the credits and really squeal in an ungodly manner.