Let’s go over the necessary monster-disaster film checklist before we start off with this review.
Gigantic monster of size be-littling skyscrapers? check!
Destruction of epic scales flooring down cities? check!
Plenty of human characters to work as food for the beast? check!
A shoe string excuse of a story but a lot of good looking people? check!
Kong: Skull Island is everything that you want your average monster movie to be and it remains fairly entertaining throughout its run time. The problem with the film is the fact that we have seen a better acted, better directed and a more affecting King Kong film in 2005 directed by Peter Jackson. I can also go the distance to say that it had more creature violence than this one and it looked prettier. We have reached a level in films where it is extremely difficult to wow us with visuals alone and it goes without saying that a film like Kong has to wow! Its audiences if it has to make any significant impact on the audiences owing to the fact that it is bound to be shallow in the story department.
A team of scientists, soldiers, and adventurers unite to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific. Within moments of their arrival on the island and them dropping bombs to apparently understand the topography of the island, they face the enormous Kong who singlehandedly destroys all their choppers and nearly half of their men. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong. As their mission becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden that has fear lurking in every corner.
The biggest plus for the film is its visuals and action. The action starts early and you hardly have time to settle down before Kong starts throwing trees at helicopters. That first 10-15 minutes of action really wets your appetite for more. But it has to be noted that you get nothing like it throughout the rest of the film. As the film progresses, we see newer creatures. Some dangerous, some friendly and also the inhabitants of the Island who have been housing an American guest since 1944. Every time there is a character moment, there is a lull in the narrative. Every time you are not in awe of the action at hand, you are hit by not so relatable characters.
The story moves ahead and we are introduced to the actual adversary, the Skull Crawlers who are a cross between dinosaurs, lizards and have a head resembling a skull without skin. Again I knew about it from the trailers. They shouldn’t have revealed it in the trailers and let it be a surprise. That way we could have been able to enjoy it a lot more. Other than that, there is also a giant spider-like creature that has been designed extremely well but appears for only a brief cameo. If that is not enough, you have a Lieutenant colonel who is having trouble dealing with the end of the Vietnam War and having to go back home. After the company is hit, the colonel takes up a personal vendetta against Kong.
The actions sequences are many and they are all grand and superb to look at. The cinematography is a mishmash between the previous King Kong film and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The editing is good and even though the pacing goes for a toss sometime in the middle of the first half, the film has energy and optimum shot selection on its side. Some plot elements feel too much to fathom and almost feel like the writers ran out of ideas but I have come to ignore and pardon these loopholes in a film of this nature. The good thing is that every time you to look at a story element or character development that went wrong, an action sequence comes up and you have so much fun with it that you forget all about the flaws you had just uncovered. I had a tiny issue with the film in the fact that Kong walks on two digits here. In the 2005 version, the rendering was much more realistic as he walked on all four which was more reminiscent of the ape that he is.
I cannot single out an actor from the illustrious cast of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman and Corey Hawkins who left a mark on the film because none of them did. Everyone literally sleepwalked through their roles and us as the audience didn’t connect with anyone of them. We didn’t care if they lived or died. This factor proved to be a very damaging thing for the film which appeared very superfluous and shallow. Having said that, it still is mighty entertaining if you can ignore its lack of effort in making its characters real and affecting.
If you are walking into this film to enjoy a giant monster epic that has sparkling visuals and a lot of character violence, then you are in safe hands. If you expect anything more from it, then chances are you will be disappointed with this film.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)