Have you ever left a movie feeling scammed?
Credit: WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Kong: Skull Island is a confused, tedious, star-studded money grab.
The film is set in 1973; you know this because the title sequence is set to a collage of recognizable era-relevant footage. Then the retro soundtrack kicks in and for the rest of the movie there is a constant stream of visual references so that you don’t forget.
Government agent Bill Randa hires a team of specialists including a former British Special Air Service captain named James Conrad, a helicopter squadron called the Sky Devils led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard, and photojournalist Mason Weaver to explore and map out the previously uncharted Skull Island.
The island is surrounded by dangerous weather conditions, so the team must navigate a deadly electrical storm in helicopters, an event which, like all events in the movie, is built up for way too long, is visually interesting but only briefly, then comes to an anti-climactic conclusion.
The helicopters encounter Kong who destroys a number of helicopters and stranding two groups on land who fight to survive and combat their strange and dangerous surroundings.
The survivors are the main cast, the people you’ve been properly introduced to, while the many helicopter occupants who you watch tragically die are never introduced, leaving you to wonder things like, “Wait, who are these people dying? How many helicopters actually are there? How did all these people survive?”
The pacing of this movie is intolerable; it feels like everything is drawn out for as long as possible to fill time and the feeling of suspense practically never ends and by the time it does, it is so anti-climactic that it is more frustrating than relieving. Every event that transpires in the movie serves a blatant purpose in setting up the next event at the most shallow passable level to drive the generic plot.
There is no depth to any of the characters. They are basic archetypes with just enough background to set up the simple motivations that drive the plot and as a result there isn’t enough substance to get you invested, and no room for significant character development. Everything is made to be as painfully easy to comprehend as possible.
The cast of this movie is great, but massively hindered by cheesy dialogue, boring characters and goofy post-production choices. John C. Reilly, as Hank Marlow, is an interesting and bold casting choice, known for his unique, quirky, oddball, comedic style in Tim and Eric Awesome Show and Step Brothers. His appearance raises hopes for a bit of comedic focus.
It’s hard to tell what tone the movie is going for. There are many instances of out of place, dumb jokes that clash with the air of serious realism and in some cases, it’s impossible to tell whether a scene is supposed to be interpreted as humour or tragedy. A lot of humour falls flat in confusion.
The cinematography in this movie is designed to make everything look and feel as dramatic and epic as possible, and it does so with indulgence and tastelessness that culminates in cheesiness.
The special effects in Kong: Skull Island are well done yet still somehow underwhelming. There are scenes where helicopters are pulled from the sky by Kong that are filmed from the perspective of the helicopter occupants struggling to hold on, losing all sense of direction while they are spun around by the giant gorilla before facing death. It’s visually awesome and could be seen as a stunning achievement except that it feels excessive, being drawn out and repeated until you’re no longer impressed. There is an unnatural quality to the way the spinning effect is animated, perhaps so that you can tolerate to look at it, but it still hurts your eyes.
The design of all the creatures in this movie is excellent, however the general quality of the CGI is somewhat lacking with lot of movement feel slightly slow motion or else simply unnatural.