By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
“Monsters are real,” at least in Kong: Skull Island they are. With a visually stunning monster combined with incredible cinematic design, Kong: Skull Island is an above average blockbuster at least on the outside. Jordan Vogt-Roberts leads Kong in a very pivotal direction with a heavy reliance on fantastic computer-generated imagery and an added lack of substance underneath the film’s exterior. With no validity attached to the visually astonishing aspects of Kong. Kong: Skull Island diverts from an above average blockbuster to a below average film in the genre of monsters.
Opening with an experience in World War 2 and a reveal of the giant ape himself, Kong: Skull Island rushes into its narrative with no importance given to it. Nonetheless, the benefits and pure entertainment that this film offers cannot be undervalued. Long overdrawn arcing shots combined with establishing shots to capture the scope of this impressively designed monstrous ape and his terrifying environment, made me feel trapped and fearful of my surroundings. The production design is splendidly done with a compelling take on the period and setting of the film. The Vietnam era is captured through the solid design of the sets and fabulous costume design for all the characters on screen. Creating a compelling environment and setting that surrounded me and contracted me to gather this sense of what it was like to live in that era. Soundtrack wise, this movie provides some fan service with some classic 70’s rock and roll.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath, The Hollies, and The Chambers Brothers classic “Time Has Come Today” lead the way on this very electrifying score. However, the biggest benefit this blockbuster offers is the intense battle scenes between Kong and his enemies fighting with slimy tentacles, horrific lizards, and stupid humans. Kong: Skull Island continued to surprise with its focus on how Kong is not only is the king of his island, but the protector as well. Each fight scene was incredibly compelling, though it’s heavily painted with visual effects. It still continued to aspire with vigorously intense battles between Kong and these ancient monsters that are trying to climb to the tip top of this ecosystem. With all of these visually excellent characteristics, Kong: Skull Island is captivating and absorbing on its exterior.
If you dive deeper into the film’s characters and narrative design, you begin noticing the flaws and lack of validity surrounding the internal blueprint of Kong: Skull Island. Only one performance stand out in the film, an extensive amount of narrative gaps, and an overwhelming sense of uninterest in the non-Kong focused scenes create disinterest and boredom in the middle section of the story. I felt lackluster in the third act due to this overwhelming sense of detachment due to the absence of anything underneath this visually focused blockbuster. To go into further detail, I thought the motivations of the characters are conflicting and confusing along with the shortage of focus from the screenplay upon Hiddleston and Larson’s characters who serve as generic and bland plot devices to provide eye candy for the audience. Samuel L. Jackson suffers in his role as he continues to portray past characters in new movies. With contrasting motivations and catchphrase centric dialogue, Samuel once again disappoints me with no new nuances added to his performances.
John Goodman is bland and was provided no dialogue or character exposing scenes. Then the immense amount of generically bland character that portrays Vietnam soldiers, scientists, and senators. With actors walking around with no motivations or unique personalities leads to the sense of unconcern for the entirety of the runtime. John C. Reilly stands out with his dry humor in combination with his portrayal of almost complete lunacy from a lengthy stay on this deserted and danger filled island. The narrative suffers as well with a lack of reasoning and focus on how these characters got to these points in their lives. This lack of motivation, narrative logic, and focus upon validity makes the big story developments feel detached and uninteresting. With no stakes at hand other than how I was concerned for Kong, you feel as if the story is overdrawn and completely lackluster in its enormous computer-generated action sequences.
Summarizing this blockbuster is easily done, with its simple narrative and over revealing trailer. The stunning cinematic design upon the visual effects and Kong’s battles with his competitive ecosystem lead to a fun and visually entrancing film. Though its characters and narrative are bland and provide no interest or stakes to these action scenes, Kong: Skull Island is an above average blockbuster that fails to cross its platform to the audience members desiring intriguing characters that help provide a common ground for film buffs and the blockbuster lovers.