Kong: Skull Island Movie Review
Offensively terrible through and through, Kong: Skull Island is a Planet of Nopes, a pretty-to-look-at but painfully dull adventure full of awful dialogue, forgettable characters, an idiotic story and okay-but-unremarkable action.
Funny when it's trying to be serious and patently unfunny when it tries, Kong: Skull Island appears to have been made by a Zack Snyder wannabe, as the movie consists of several beautiful money shots (look, Kong is standing in front of an explosion! Look, his hand is reaching into the water to save Brie Larson! Look, there is Kong in front of the setting sun!) lazily pasted together by a pathetic script that tries so little to be entertaining, rewarding or even marginally mediocre it's amazing the actors could even say things with a straight face.
And straight they play it, as much of Kong: Skull Island is immensely humorless despite apparent attempts to fill the movie with funny characters that truly aren't funny. The problem is that Jordan Vogt-Roberts (who directed the quite good 2013 indie The Kings of Summer) seems to want the best of both worlds: a grounded, take-me-serious action film in the vein of 2014’s Godzilla (a movie I loved, by the way) and a wacky adventure where a giant ape bats helicopters out of the sky and cliché soldiers say cheesy, off-the-wall things to lighten the mood in the face of certain death. Vogt-Roberts fails miserably at balancing the two, likely because none of the intentionally funny stuff is actually funny.
With exception to John C. Reilly, who appears to have wandered onto the wrong set but doesn’t give a fuck, every single one of the characters is instantly forgettable. And it’s hard to care about the outcome of a movie when you don’t care about anyone in the movie. Kong: Skull Island has a great cast but simply fails to utilize them: recent Oscar winner Brie Larson’s only memorable moment in the entire movie is when she tries to stop a shockingly dull Samuel L. Jackson from killing Kong with a line so cringe-inducing and nonsensical it’s impossible not to laugh (“The world is a bigger place.” Huh? What does that have to do with anything?). Tom Hiddleston is apparently supposed to be the lead protagonist, but he’s given so little to do it’s hard to tell. John Goodman is essentially wasted, and a bunch of other lesser known but recognizable faces pop in and out of the movie for some reason or another. Special props to Chinese actress Tian Jing (The Great Wall, another 2017 contributor to quality content) for managing to not even get a speck of dirt on her face or clothes despite traipsing through the jungle for three days.
Kong: Skull Island does feature bursts of entertainment value, and those bursts usually come when no one is talking and Kong is fighting things, whether those be people or other monsters. While it sounds like some people found a lot to like with the action scenes, the action overall is generally unremarkable; again, because none of the characters matter, it’s very hard to feel much sense of dread or excitement. But thanks to how amazing the visual effects look at time, if watching giant monsters battle each other (or helicopters) is your cup of tea, you could do worse.
Kong: Skull Island has impressive set design and visual effects, and there is no denying that Vogt-Roberts has made a beautiful-looking film. And as boring as it is, the film is oddly fast-paced, at least once you get past the painful first 15 minutes. But an awful screenplay, horribly written characters and simply okay action makes watching Kong a largely miserable experience.
The best line of the movie, by the way, is hilarious: “It sounds like a bird. But it's an ant.”
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.