Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island Lacks Depth

Every sensible person who watched “Suicide Squad” last summer and ran out probably passed the producers of “Kong: Skull Island” on the way out. They were more than likely plotting how to bring the neon-vomited themes of “Squad” to a film about an aggressive monkey.

I was searching for anything that could make my viewing enjoyable. I unlocked about fifteen undiscovered lounging positions in my theater chair throughout the duration of “Kong: Exposition Island.”

I mean “Kong: Skull Island.”

I finally had the disposable boredom available to study the face of my watch in ways I’ve never wanted to before.

“Kong: Skull Island” is the second film in a series started by the fellow Legendary/Warner Brothers collaboration in 2014 “Godzilla,” and will be followed up by a sequel to “Godzilla” and a Kong versus Godzilla film tentatively scheduled for 2020.

Warner Bros. seems to have a plan set up to tap an independent director into a big-budgeted monster film and see what happens. Instead of giving said independent director a bigger budget for films they have in mind, they offer them a blockbuster that has to make hundreds of millions back or their career is finished. This concept worked (depending on who you ask) with Gareth Edwards and “Godzilla.” So why stop now?

I envision the mish-mash of Kong’s script being the hellish product of several writers throwing an assortment of ideas into a pot and hoping no one would notice how vastly different every new scene is from the last.

The plot of “Kong”?

We’ve got an unique one here, people. John Goodman’s character wants to go Skull Island. Goodman obviously gets a squad together that has to include Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson’s performance would come out the same if you got a caffeine-riddled middle schooler to punch an SLJ soundboard. I can imagine Jackson asking his agent if the check cleared between takes. Goodman’s character has ulterior motives for going on the island. Shocker!

Our hero of this pretty-looking dumpster fire is Tom Hiddleston. He spends the movie squinting at everything, magically knowing where everything is on the island because he’s a scouter of some sort and spewing exposition with a low tone. Hiddleston’s low-effort performance is a trashy blunderbuss of acting.

Brie Larson plays a photographer. That’s it. Her character is given as much depth as a deflated kiddie pool. It’s a shame after her powerful performance in films like “Room” and “Short Term 12” that she would choose a role that could have been played by a cardboard cutout. But house payments exist so I understand her choice. You’d think she would follow up her acclaimed performance as “The Patriot Who Didn’t Clap for Casey Affleck” with something that would get her her own Oscar buzz, but alas.

There is rarely dialogue in this movie that isn’t a repeatedly fumbled delivery of exposition. Every conversation is one character telling another character everything they know about the situation. Or putting the action into words for the audience the director can’t respect enough to trust to follow a film about a giant ape who fights deformed iguanas in his downtime.

When the band of blunders aren’t attempting to be the group in “Apocalypse Now,” they are trying their hand at unnecessary and unsuccessful comedy relief, especially from John C. Reilly.

The film is set in 1973. If you didn’t catch that from the opening credits, you will know because every lazy director working today will insert a bunch of random classic rock tunes throughout their movie to remind you. “Kong: Skull Island” is no exception.

What do you mean this will ruin the mood? Creedence Clearwater Revival, guys! David Bowie! The 70s! By the time “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath was randomly set to a scene, I slipped into a nausea-induced state of forced nostalgia.

The worst thing about “Kong: Skull Island” is undoubtedly the tone. This movie has no idea what genre it wants to be. Kong brutally killing the first string of soldiers is intercut with unnecessary funny quips for no reason other than to confuse the audience. Kong is also introduced with zero tension built up or reason to be fearful of him. He is revealed so nonchalantly that you wouldn’t think he was a 100-foot-tall monkey killing numerous soldiers. The action scenes have as much excitement and structure as a child slamming two dinosaur toys against each other.

Nothing in the film lands on its feet. It’s understandable to want to change the tone from the sometimes overtly serious and dark vibes of “Godzilla,” but “Kong” goes so far left field that it doesn’t know what type of film it wants to be anymore.



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