Let’s face it, Kong is king and all but the movie monkey we all truly want to hang with is the monkey from Grandmas Boy
Warning small spoilers ahead
Skull Island a remote terrain located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean is a place of mystery or “a place where myth and science meet.” Those words are uttered by head of Monarch Bill Randa (John Goodman) a company who wants to explore this uncharted island in hopes of finding new life, but maybe something more…There’s one tiny detail that Monarch is leaving out and that is they believe this mysterious island is home to a giant ape. Taking place shortly after the Vietnam War in 1973, this movie throws every cliché character from that time period at you. We have the award winning photojournalist, who is anti-war and just wants to get the right side of the story. Weaver played by Brie Larson, next is the manliest of men ex British Secret Service now nature tour guide James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). We have the cranky, old school war veteran who thinks man is king, Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard played by Samuel L. Jackson and his bunch of misfit soldiers. Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham and Thomas Mann play the Colonel’s soldiers that just honestly want to go home after fighting in the war. John C. Reilly plays Hank Marlow who has been trapped on Skull Island since World War II, and really was the stand out in Kong. So when their mission is turned upside down, literally Kong smashes their helicopters to shit and they are left stranded on this foreign land, they need to make it out alive before something much bigger eats them. One thing about Skull Island is that the people behind the movie know its absurd and I respect that, I respect that all logic gets tossed out the window for this movie, like how Brie Larson and company are involved in a serious helicopter accident and she walks away looking like a perfect 10 model. But this is a MONSTER movie so you have to take stuff like this with a grain of salt, and just sit back, relax and watch Kong fight a lot of things.
So speaking of Kong, that guy knows how to toss trees at helicopters. He smashes these helicopters like a toddler who is playing with toys for the very first time (it was awesome). Then Kong fights off a giant ass squid, which he follows up by eating it like he’s out at Red Lobster enjoying some calamari (it was even more awesome). He follows that up by fighting and punching multiple giant-lizards in the face, and killing everything in sight (the most awesome). Kong beats up a lot of things in this movie, and there was a brief moment where I honest to god thought somehow Sam Jackson was going to go toe to toe with this giant ape, but instead Kong just fist pumps him into the ground, like a fly on the wall. All I know is, Sam Jackson really has the animal kingdom on lockdown in movies. Sharks, apes and snakes, all we need to do is have him wrestle like a bear or maybe a lion and he will officially be in the greatest actor who ever lived. We do get at least 3 great Sam Jackson monologues, which is never a bad thing, he just wanted to take down that damn dirty ape.
Kong: Skull Island really uses every excuse in the book to make everything as big as possible. Kong is huge, the biggest Kong we have ever seen in the movies, but giant lizards, giant squids, giant buffalo, massive walking sticks, that come with some snarky attitude. At one point in the movie, Toby Kebbell’s character shoots this giant walking stick, and the look they share afterwards was so genuine, the walking stick had the look on its face like; “I’m just here minding my own damn business, go sit on another log,” and he feels bad after he shoots it. So bad that he puts his gun down, which was worse case scenario because it’s moments later he gets his head bitten off. Back to things that are giant, we got giant birds that rip people limb from limb, like kids pulling a wishbone apart at Thanksgiving dinner. We have giant ants that are so big, at one point John C Reilly’s character claims, “they sound like birds, but they’re fucking ants.” Even the budget, which is estimated to be around 190 million, is giant, and to WBs credit this is a fun monster movie.
Kong: Skull Island as some great things going for it, but it also has some pretty big flaws that at times took me completely out of the movie. Yes, we all go to a movie called Kong: Skull Island too see King Kong do cool stuff, but the biggest flaw of this movie are the people. For some reason they decided to have like 39503204 (I’m exaggerating) characters in it, and it was just too much. When I saw the cast for this movie I thought to myself, these are all fantastic people in one movie, but they were all totally underused, or forced to deliver some horrible lines. The writing is putrid, no way around it, Brie Larson is an Oscar winning actress, who was reduced to standing around looking scared, and taking pictures. She’s fully capable of more, and her character wasn’t ever explored, you knew nothing about any of these people, so it was hard to root for them. There are a few people who make it to the very end of the movie and might have 3 lines of dialogue in the entire movie, just a waste of space really. I just don’t understand why they thought a movie about a giant ass-kicking ape needed all these human characters. I enjoyed Tom Hiddleston in this, even though again his story wasn’t flushed out and we knew nothing about him really, I could get behind the guy and he proved to be a worthy action star. I’m comparing it to Adrian Brody in Predators. His shining moment in the movie, was when he throws on a gas mark, and starts slicing skull-crawlers like he’s playing fruit ninja, in a cloud of colorful smoke. I really dug that scene and would honestly watch an entire movie of just that; maybe he could start a fruit ninja franchise. The worst part of these two characters is after all the crap they go through and even after Kong turns down Brie Larson, they don’t hook up. There’s a 65% chance Tom Hiddleston took this role so he could have a make-out scene with Brie, because who wouldn’t want that? John C. Reilly on the other hand, his character worked. He was so self-aware of everything that was going on and had some of the best-delivered lines in the whole movie. When he finally says “I call em Skull Crawlers” out loud for the first time, before realizing that name is really stupid, and that everyone can call them whatever they want (these were the giant lizards that came from underground) was a really funny moment, and one of the rare funny moments in the movie. A lot of the humor fell pretty flat, mostly due to the bad writing, these are talented actors in this, but when it’s bad writing no matter who you are, sometimes you just can’t make things funny. The funniest part in Kong, is totally when Shea Whigham’s character tries to take down the biggest Skull-Crawler by uncorking some grenades before he gets eaten, only to be bitch slapped by its tail and flies about a mile away not before hitting a cliff and exploding. He just wanted to be a hero, turned out to be a tool, poor guy.
Now lets talk about the king of Skull Island, Kong! Usually Kong is a tortured soul, he’s lonely, with no friends and just wants some companionship but I never really got that vibe in this. I just felt nothing for this Kong, yeah he was awesome and huge, but you want to get behind this ape emotionally and it just was never there. There is one moment where Brie Larson touches his face, but that felt super forced, like they needed to shoehorn that into the movie, because we all know Kong has a thing for sexy women, like all men do. He even saves her at one point, but then lets here leave with Tom Hiddleston, not before giving her the sexy eyes as she floats down the river on a boat. He didn’t really have a whole lot of feelings; maybe because he’s still just a baby Kong, but usually he’s a troubled soul and once he meets a pretty girl, his personality really shines through. Things I do know about Kong; he likes squid, he enjoys punching things, he enjoys doing ape like things, he might have a crush on Brie Larson.
All in all this is a fun monster movie. It doesn’t need to make sense or have the richest of plots. The good outweigh the bad, and there isn’t that much bad in it to begin with. The tone is somewhat all over the place; it wants to be a horror movie, a comedy and an action movie. This movie is just filler for the main event in 2020, when Kong takes on Godzilla, which is going to be so glorious it might cause blindness upon watching it. One thing is for certain; puberty needs to hit Kong like a ton of bricks if he plans on taking down Godzilla, or to even have a fighting chance. If I’m ranking this movie on just the Kong stuff, it’s easily in the 90’s, but I have to look at it as a whole. But you are going to see this for Kong, and on that front it delivers immensely. One last thing, props to the casting director for getting Dr. Dre and Easy E back into a movie together, felt like a Straight Outta Compton origin story. Actually the music in this movie is awesome, any movie that plays Bad Moon Rising by CCR is a winner in my books.
Check ya later,
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews — Kong: Skull Island = 73/100