Sunday, March 12, 2017

Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island brings the biggest ape yet to the screen in order, supposedly, to fight Godzilla at some point in a sequel. The story takes place in the early '70s as a pair of scientists from the Monarch group Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) seek out Skull Island spotted from a satellite. They hire the tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston)  to lead the ground expedition and recruit a military unit lead by Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). War photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) also hitches a ride and geologist San (Tian Jing) is thrown in as another character.

The most interesting group are the squadron of helicopter pilots including Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell, who also helped with the motion capture), Mills (Jason Mitchell), Cole (Shea Whigham), Silvko (Thomas Mann), and Reles (Eugene Cordero). There were other researchers and soldiers thrown is as victims of Kong and the other dangerous beasts of Skull Island. The expedition to drop seismic explosions to map the island is almost immediately derailed as Kong starts smashing helicopters and killing a portion of the crew. From this point on Jackson's Colonel Packard swears vengeance and is determined to take down the giant ape.

The creatures are strange on this island from a giant spider that splits a soldier apart by taking a step and the "skull walkers", two-legged lizards. With two groups split up, one encounters a man trapped on Skull Island for over 20 years Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) while the group of soldiers seeks out explosives to take down the beast. Marlow warns of the monster when they all regroup but Packard is determined to fight and risks all of the men for this mission. Characters like Jing's San and Hawkins's Brooks are pushed to the side for most of the parts as the film suffers from too many characters chewing up the screen. 

The final fight comes along with some awesome visuals but nothing that viewers have not seen before. The larger size of Kong was an interesting addition but the characters are not so fleshed out as to make me really care as to their survival and some of their dumb decisions hardly make it seem like they deserve it. The movie felts in a lot of ways as if it was a setup for the greater fight to come and not the actual main event, the issue with a lot of these films that are trying to build a larger film universe.

Kong is the second film of a pretty packed March but falls short in certain areas while still maintaining to entertain. The movie has the classic monster film deaths but even the dialogue of characters points out the utter lack of emotion as some character just seem to die for no reason other than to add a shock, not furthering the plot or adding any sense of fear. Viewers should be able to know who survives and though some deaths are surprising there is no sense of suspense. Kong is decent but, not spectacular. 

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