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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

April 12, 2017

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Bottom Line: Set in the 1970s, just after the Vietnam War, Kong: Skull Island is the story of a bunch of people you will soon forget about exploring an uncharted island filled with giant and monstrous creatures, including the infamous King Kong. I actually liked how the movie didn’t waste time with a slow reveal of Kong because, let’s be honest, if you are flying above Skull Island you are not going to miss the 100 foot ape roaming around. Almost as soon as the team of “geological researchers” and their military escort reach the shores of Skull Island they are doing battle with the massive gorilla.

Of course, the film also wastes little time with any real character development, which is somewhat of a shame, because there are a number of overqualified actors in this movie. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson continue to impress me, but they are given very little to work with and one has to wonder why they even bothered. Oh yeah, because of their million dollar salaries! Most people probably aren’t going to King Kong movies for the interesting characters, but a big part of why I loved Peter Jackson’s underrated 2005 version is because of how well he developed the relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow – the film really made me feel something. There is a brief nod to Kong feeling compassion to Brie Larson’s character, but it’s almost laughable how Kong is able to discern between those that are actually trying to harm him and those that understand that he’s only protecting himself because he feels threatened. And then there’s Samuel L. Jackson’s character, the leader of the military outfit, hellbent on making sure everyone gets killed. Because that’s what real people would want to do when there are lethal, giant monsters around – attack them on foot with handheld firearms. And everyone just follows him around with little resistance.

Not only is the 2005 version of King Kong a much better story, it also looks better. Somehow, with 12 years of technological advances, the CGI in this movie is less impressive than Peter Jackson’s version. The highlight of Skull Island is probably the other creatures on the island. There’s a giant spider that is creepy enough that it actually made me shiver at the thought of it and Kong has a fun battle with a giant octopus.

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to mention that this film takes place in the same cinematic universe as 2014’s Godzilla and there are plans to have this King Kong (which is why he’s 100 feet tall) and the 2014 version of Godzilla – and others – face off in the future. But so far, they are 0-2 with these movies and none of the actors that would likely appear have signed on for future sequels.

Overall, it’s hard to say I was too disappointed with Skull Island because I really wasn’t expecting much, but it does kind of boggle my mind how the film is sitting at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes because there is not much to like. I guess it was entertaining enough, but aside from a couple of fun action sequences, there is very little to remember about Kong: Skull Island.

Replay Value: I will never watch this again.
Sequel Potential: The second entry of a planned MonsterVerse that will feature Godzilla, King Kong, Mothra, Rodan, and others. Godzilla: King of the Monsters has cast and crew attached and is set for release in March 2019 while Godzilla vs. Kong is still in pitch status but has a planned release date of May 2020.
Oscar Potential: I think it will whiff even in the technical categories.

Grade: 4.5/10 (Watchable/Forgettable)

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