By Cody Lamoreau (Bath, Maine)
If there is one thing we have in abundance, it is monster movies. They can either be extremely cheesy or very well directed and with a lot of heart. This weekend Kong: Skull Island hits theaters. But what side of the spectrum will it fall under?
In a Vietnam War era World a group of soldiers and scientist, led by Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackman discover a mysterious and possibly deadly island. On this Island the team discovers they may have bitten off more than they chew as they discover prehistoric giant lizards and bugs. Also on the island is the King of all monsters Kong. Now the team has to find a way to survive and eventually escape without infuriating Kong and evading the deadly environment around them.
If I was to say I wasn’t excited going into this film that would be an unnecessary lie. I have grown up with Kong my entire life and was waiting to see what this new rendition of the beast would bring. I left the theater very disappointed and a little shocked to be quite honest. This film has some similarities with 2014’s Godzilla directed by Gareth Edwards. Such as the humans landing in an area where monsters are dwelling; a certain quest that they need to fulfill and encountering a building sized creature. But unlike Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island is built on poor direction, a very hollow screenplay and uninteresting characters.
While the sequences in which King Kong himself is on screen are exciting and absolutely heart pumping; Kong himself seems to share the same amount of screen time as Godzilla did in Gareth Edwards film.
The film itself looked pretty good as well. It had a very Vietnam War era tone. Not just from the soundtrack, which was very pleasant to hear, but from the color patterns. The environment had a very orange hue throughout the entire run time. Unfortunately there are problems littered throughout beginning with the characters. Very much like the dialogue written for them, each individual (save for Tom Hiddleston and Academy Award Winner Brie Larson, who gave passable work) feels expendable and over the top in a really unpleasant way. Samuel. L Jackson portrays a hardened military man who has lost something dear to him and is on a vendetta against this great beast and will do nothing until he hunts it down. While that story worked for Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, it just feels forced and unwanted in this setting.
At a certain point when the marketing was just starting, there were people who were worried about the addition of John C. Reilly. In the trailers released it looked as though he would be the comedic relief and not in a good way. Therefore it is my pleasure or rather my disgrace to tell you those fears are justified. However the comedic overtones were not just shared with Reilly himself. Many of the other soldiers in this movie attempt to make things funnier, but instead made things more awkward. Including a running joke about a soldier (played by Toby Kebbel) trying to get home to his son.
Now although the characters are hollow and some of, if not all the jokes, never landed; that is nothing in comparison to the dialogue. Not only being seemingly over the top and unwanted, at certain points it was on the verge of being as horrendous as Sharknado, which was created merely to watch a tornado filled with sharks destroy things. Now we have a movie that is simply about Kong and other creatures destroying things.
At some point last year we all heard that a Godzilla V. King Kong film was going to be put into production. Shortly after we received news that Kong: Skull Island would be released this year and hopefully create some exciting tie-ins for fans of both Godzilla and King Kong. As Kong: Skull Island was journeying through the motions it became abundantly clear that instead of trying to create a cohesive overall story, the creators, very much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were only ever trying to create a set up movie.
Cinematic universes can be fun, even if they are ridiculous or cheesy in some cases; but when a film is created with this amount of laziness, it leaves the audience wondering why we should care. The biggest battle fans have to face now is within themselves wondering how a Godzilla film could ever be better crafted than a film about the King Kong. If Kong: Skull Island is any indication of what’s to come, I am going to be a little nervous if not skeptical for what the future holds. Guilty-pleasure movies are an important part of life and this movie doesn’t even seem to hit that bar of entertainment. And it’s really sad to see.