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After the crushing disappointment that was Godzilla, I have to say that
Kong: Skull Island is a tremendous surprise. Not only a hugely
entertaining monster movie, but a well-directed, well-written and
well-acted film full of ideas from start to finish. Its action set-
pieces are utterly spectacular, the CGI is fantastic, and there's even
a story that's genuinely interesting throughout, something that I
definitely didn't expect going in.
But by far the greatest achievement of this film is the presence of Kong himself. As plain as most of the film was, the biggest issue with Godzilla was that there just wasn't enough Godzilla. Fortunately, Skull Island rectifies that exact problem, and makes Kong as big a character in the film as any of the humans, appearing on screen at regular intervals, and actually playing a genuine role in the story.
And that story is probably the thing that surprised me most of all. Again, Godzilla was a slow, empty and formulaic monster movie that really bored me. Kong: Skull Island, on the other hand, is a fast- paced and absolutely jam-packed action movie that actually gets better and better as it moves along.
Of course, there's a part of me that's a little sad that we're not getting the classic story of King Kong that made both the 1933 and 2005 films so beautiful. However, Skull Island does do a fantastic job at bringing the character to a different time period and making a new, riveting story.
Above all, the film's ingenious parallels with the Vietnam War make for fascinating viewing. Bringing a different dynamic to the relationship between the humans and Kong, the way that Skull Island looks at the story through the lens of the anti-Vietnam War sentiment of the 1970s adds an impressive layer of depth to the story, keeping Kong an interesting and emotionally resonant character despite removing his love with Ann Darrow.
What's more is that some of the film's characters have some very layered and interesting backstories. In particular, Samuel L. Jackson's character, a stubborn, war-mongering colonel taken from the Vietnam War he loved fighting in, is hugely interesting to watch. At times mimicking the role of film director Carl Denham from the original, at others adding a far darker and more serious edge to the story of the invasion of Skull Island, he's absolutely fascinating to follow from start to finish.
There are a whole host of other characters that bring some impressive depth to the story, depth that I certainly didn't expect after the two-dimensional heroes of Godzilla, and make the film's large ensemble cast work amazingly well.
One more positive from the film is undoubtedly the action. As I said, this is a very exciting monster movie that's full of action throughout. Above all, the opening and closing action sequences really stand out. Both because of the amazing visual parallels drawn with Vietnam War films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, but also thanks to the stunning CGI that allows Kong to tower over the screen in comparison to the humans, but also puts a formidable and genuinely terrifying enemy on a very level playing field.
As far as blockbusters go, Skull Island is top-quality, but it still isn't entirely perfect. For one, whilst it's brimmed with ideas and interesting characters throughout, that does lead the film to becoming a little crowded at times. The lack of a main character amidst the huge ensemble cast means it's definitely not as streamlined as I would have liked.
Also, the parallels with Vietnam, whilst unique and great to see in a movie like this, are a little overbearing at times. Particularly in the first act, there comes a point where the film really hits you over the head with how similar it is to Apocalypse Now, and although that does die down to a better level later on, it's a little frustrating at times.
Simply put, Skull Island is an impressively brainy and innovative blockbuster, but it goes a little too far with everything it does. That's far better than a completely empty film like Godzilla, but with an enormous main cast and a story that's so jam-packed, I felt like things could have been carried out a little smoother than the finished product.
Still, I had a really good time with Kong: Skull Island. It's a massively entertaining monster movie that places its title character right in the thick of the action, surrounded by more interesting human characters, excellent visuals, stunning action sequences, and a genuinely engrossing and intelligent original story.
No Spoilers here.
Kong: Skull Island is the perfect monster movie. It's an epic display of what a popcorn movie should be. Great visuals, soundtrack, and a pleasant plot that is not bogged down by the melodrama that killed the Godzilla flick from 2014. It's a giant monster movie. Have fun.
I had a free AMC preview of the movie on March 1st, 2017. My husband is
not a fan of some of the actors in this film BUT he loves KONG! So,
during the movie I felt he was enjoying it. I'm not going to give away
anything because I hate when people do that; all I will say is the
skull crawlers gave me a nightmare and the entire movie from start to
finish was really really good.
The plot was good, the acting was outstanding. I really felt I was in the 70's. The music in the movie was dead on perfect.
Hope you go out and support this movie because I am sick of remakes and this is NOT one of them, This movie stands alone by itself! A MUST SEE...
Stay to the very end...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Minor Spoilers Ahead* The movie opens in 1944 in the aftermath of a
dogfight over a supposedly inhabited island. Hank Marlow (later played
by John C. Reily) is an American pilot who successfully parachutes out
and lands on the island. Unluckily for him, a Japanese pilot also
parachutes to safety and when he lands, a fight begins. Neither gains
the upper hand but the Japanese pilot has a sword so Hank flees into
the jungle. They later continue to fight but it's interrupted when a
certain "monster" makes an appearance.
After a montage of world events following WW2, the movie picks up again in 1973. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brookes (Corey Hawkins) are 2 scientists from the Monarch Corp. on Capital Hill for a meeting with Senator Willis (Richard Jenkins). He tries to skirt the meeting, America has just announced its withdrawal from the Vietnam War. Bill and Houston want to map Skull Island geologically to look for mineral deposits. Willis isn't having any of it until Bill mentions that this could be an opportunity to beat the Russians to the island. But they have to assemble a security team to investigate and protect the scientists including a helicopter division led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a former SAS officer James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).
Having seen the trailers for this movie, you would think it would be largely led by Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson but this is actually more of an ensemble movie. Some of the supporting actors actually end up leading the movie for large periods of time. The plus side of this is that they create some cool characters, they're all interesting and their motivations are clear and understandable. Almost every ensemble movie has problems sharing the screen time and this one is no exception. James and Mason were interesting but you didn't get as much time to latch onto them as you probably should have. Other characters lack purpose, I like Toby Kebbell as an actor but his character Jack Chapman has almost no bearing on anything and just acts as a device to get the plot moving.
One of the surprising things about this movie is that it ended up being a lot funnier than I expected. Some people were worried about tonal issues because the trailer showed this frightening monster destroying everything and then it showed the cast cracking a joke. There are some small moments where something violent would happen and then they would try to bring some comedy in. The tone of Kong: Skull Island reminded me a lot of classic adventure movies like Indiana Jones where they weren't afraid to go dark yet they managed to create a memorable movie by including some impressive action and funny jokes. Tonally there are moments where the movie borders on being cheesy but they're few and far between.
Speaking of the action, they really went for it here. Kong is a force of nature and the way he decimates his enemies is surprisingly violent. They give away some of the best bits in the trailer but my favourite parts were when they first encounter Kong travelling to the island and the ending fight between Kong and the other creatures on the island. This is a PG-13 movie that isn't afraid to give you what you want which is some bone-crunching action.
Every frame of this movie is gorgeous too. This is one of the few big budget movies where I didn't feel like it had CGI overload. The environment is beautiful and the movie has some very stylish cinematography. Some of this is expected but I still feel like they went the extra mile. The creatures on the island aren't completely new designs but they're fun to look at and they help bring the sense of epic to Kong: Skull Island. The effects around Kong are also excellent, his look and movements are consistent and I didn't see any flaws in it. You also get some fun stuff like the music from the period too.
The cast here is pretty impressive, they went the extra mile to get some top-shelf talent and the movie largely benefits. Hiddleston is good, he could have carried more of this but he's decent in his spot. Brie Larson elevates her role, I think this movie shows how talented she is because in the grand scheme she's more of a background character than you realize. Samuel L. Jackson was decent, he gets more over-the-top as the movie goes along but he fits. Surprisingly, a lot of the supporting characters stole the show, John C. Reily had the best performance. He changes the dynamic of the movie, he has all the quotable lines and his ending is played pitch perfect. Jason Mitchell was a surprise standout, he was good in Straight Outta Compton but he steals a lot of the scenes he's in. If there was anyone I was disappointed in, John Goodman came across as pretty flat. I don't know if that was his fault or his role.
I don't think that this movie was flawless. Other than what I mentioned above, the only other things I would mention is that the dialogue could have used a little punching up in spots and the editing was a little choppy in the second half. Scenes transition and people end up in different places than they last were and events happen in sequence that don't fit together completely.
People seemed worried that the trailers for this movie looked so good, they were bracing themselves for upcoming disappointment. Let me put those fears at ease, this movie wasn't perfect but it was easily one of the better movies I've seen so far this year. I liked this better than the latest Godzilla movie. I'd give Kong: Skull Island an 8.5/10.
Some people go to the movies to be wowed by the superb acting, heart
wrenching and well written story, and overall solid production... THIS
has good effects? The acting in this film isn't bad, but it definitely
won't win any awards for it.
The story has characters Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) piggybacking on an expedition to an uncharted island to test their "hollow earth" theory. Tom Hiddleston plays a tracker, Brie Larson plays a photographer, and John C. Reilly plays a surprisingly funny WW2 vet marooned on Skull Island.
The film takes place in 1973 and loves to remind you with CCR and old technology as if it was a hundred years ago. Kong: Skull Island pays homage to Apocalypse Now quite frequently even though it seems a bit excessive at times.
Kong looked good, almost all the creatures looked cool and all the fights between them looked really good, especially in IMAX 3D. Some of the green screen effects, like backgrounds behind characters, were distractingly bad. Ultimately, you get some great stuff out of all the effects if you're not looking too closely.
The characters are more hollow than the earth (according to the film's characters themselves), the story is mediocre, but the effects reign king in this film adaptation.
My suggestion: See it! it's a blockbuster meant to fill seats, not win awards. Take it for what it is.
Seen at an advanced IMAX 3D screening in Minneapolis.
Movies used to be fun. Genuinely fun. Kong: Skull Island is a throwback to the era when movies were fun - like, Stars Wars fun. Like Jaws fun. That kind of fun. The leads embody characters that are all understandable and genuinely likable. The plot isn't stuffed with technical geek references and "easter eggs" that weigh down other universe-building films. From the fire- singed Kong fur to the slick skull crawler tongues, the special effects are brilliantly detailed and animated. And it's genuinely refreshing to watch an action/monster film in which native peoples are depicted with dignity and respect, and where black and Asian characters aren't used as props or fodder for violence (admittedly, the film could have gone further with this, but I sensed some progress being made). Kong: Skull Island isn't Life is Beautiful. It isn't Casablanca. But it is genuinely, thrillingly, rigorously fun. It has heart, scales, teeth and a ferocious roar. Monster movies are back. Get in line. Hail to the King.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I want to start off by saying that I am not going to sit here and
pretend to be above wanting to see a 100-foot tall ape shred through
some giant lizards and whatnot for around 2 hours.
If you were worried that Kong would wait 40 minutes to show the action only to cut-away when the fan makes contact with the feces, then you can put those worries to rest because this giant hairy grump is in your face right off the bat.
I could immediately tell that this film wasn't about to shy away from what we all craved so dearly in 2014's Godzilla, because from the first gunshot onward this script hauls some serious behind straight toward that colorful Skull Island which we were all so eager to see from the trailers.
Now, I have learned from a number of painful years that discipline is a key ingredient both behind the camera and beneath the projector. I like to think that my expectations were fair. I did not look at any reviews at any point before I hit that seat on that Thursday night - popcorn and drink in hand. I was ready, man.
Now, if I told you that the neat visuals surrounding the lineup of lovecraftian nasties rendered into digital existence to confront the titular ape was enough to save this picture, then I would be lying straight to your face.
Yes, of course we get to see a glorious pair of giant angry ape fists make heavy and satisfying contact with: Some helicopters, a couple of lizards without legs (which is funny, because the T-Rexes in Peter Jackson's King Kong lacked arms), a giant squid because, you know, we needed 5 seconds of squid footage in the trailer I guess, more lizards, and a big lizard whose sole purpose in life is to rustle some serious jimmies.
But unfortunately, these scenes are sprinkled between around 2 hours of having the camera choppily bob and weave between two separate groups containing some of the most boring and uninteresting characters I have ever come to forget. There is a cardboard hero who is good at everything that the script needs him to be good at, a photographer who takes, like, pictures I guess, and John C. Reilly, who is arguably the closest this film gets to an interesting character.
And this is not because of the script. This is because he is John C. Reilly adding his own touch to the script he was given, like Gordon Ramsay doing his best after being handed a bag of plain rice and half of a dildo.
Everybody else is a nameless nothing that we get to see be picked off by giant insects in front of some of the worst green screen I have seen in some time. Good, lord. What time of day was it again? Because I swear to sweet baby Christ on a cracker that the sun set about six or seven different times in the same day.
The helicopter's encounter followed (after seemingly quite some time) by the final throw-down between Kong and captain ptorsodactyl mcwigglynoodle was what truly got me through the cringe-inducing humor and painfully humorous deaths.
This is one of those red-box gems that you'll have a better time with once there is a beer in your hand rather than a 7 dollar popcorn.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not even sure what to say about this one. Kong was 950 feet tall. And
sweet. So sweet. Unless you threatened him or made him angry. Which
they managed to do. I think pretty much anything that Samuel Jackson is
in these days, must be avoided like the Bird flu. He is a compromised
actor of extreme proportions, and will literally do anything for a
buck. He is so tired. His routine is so old. Here he plays an army
officer, who of course has no respect for nature, animals, or the
earth. Hence the environmental statement. It is a statement that feels
like it was written by a 5 year old. Hollywood being the nearly
culturally bankrupt institution it is, seems to be incapable of a
balance, nuanced, elegant statement of any sort. So, they keep
producing this kind on inane garbage.
Why did 14 helicopter pilots, when faced with a 950 foot tall Kong, who has a wing span the size of several football fields, fly within swat range of this beast? Was it not possible they could have done any better than that? Does Hollywood really need to continue to insult us at every possible opportunity?
The only redeeming quality this movie had was John C. Reilly. His comic touch was all that kept me from walking out on this turkey.
Hollywood, you can do better than this. You need to stop catering to Chinese teenagers. This movie was terrible.
The legendary King Kong returns in an all new adventure that gives the
classic tale a much needed update and new setting. Unlike Perter
Jackson's retelling of the original Black and White film, "Kong: Skull
Island" eschews the old for the new and in doing so breathes a much
needed new life and vitality into the franchise.
The film is set in 1973 when William Randa (John Goodman), informs the government that they have detected a previously unknown island and need to investigate it before the Soviets learn of it and beat them to whatever the island my hold.
William recruits a team which includes a former British officer named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), and Photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), to assist his team lead by Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), in mapping the island.
William also asks for a military escort and the government enlists Lt. Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), and his team to accompany the mission. Packard is trying to find his place in the world as he and his helicopter combat team are dealing with the recent end of the Vietnam War. His men are looking forward to going home and resuming their lives, but a dour Packard jumps at the chance for another mission over the uncertainty of the future.
Upon arriving on the mysterious island and starting their survey mission by using seismic charges, the team attract the attention of Kong who is not at all pleased with the intrusion on his island. Kong makes short work of the copters and the team finds themselves scattered about the dangerous island. They soon learn that Kong is not the only danger on the island and must find a way to rejoin each other and make it to their extraction point alive.
Naturally some of the characters have a hidden agenda and there are dangerous and action around every corner. Further complicating matters is the appearance of Marlow (John C. Reilly), a downed WWII pilot who has been stranded on the island for 23 years and warns of dangers far greater than Kong that are ahead of the team.
The film combines a solid cast with state of the art special effects to take a new twist on the standard adventure fare. While many parts of the film remain silly Popcorn entertainment, the quality of the assembled cast allows the film to move beyond being just an assembly of potential victims for a menagerie of CGI creatures to dispatch. While the story is more in lines with the linear and thin plots of adventure films of old, the sum of the parts does add up to an enjoyable film experience for those who like the giant creature films. You will want to make sure to stay after the credits as there is a very good scene that shows a setup for a future film that had those in attendance at our press screening cheering.
The film may be a bit intense for younger viewers but if you are looking for a touch of nostalgia and action, you may find the film just what you need.
3.5 stars out of 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This abortion of a movie should never have seen the light of day. With
a credits list of OVER 1,300 people, you think someone would have put
their hand up and said "Umm... Wait a minute"
This is supposed to be 1974, but apparently no one bothered to check any actual history. Even the props are more modern, with an office full of DEC-VT100 display terminals from 1978 and later. Many other items in this movie are clearly more modern than they should be. Totally lazy for such an expensive project.
I guess if you cast Samuel L. Jackson into anything these days, it must pass his "cartoon silliness test" to be produced. Tarantino can get away with this with great dialog and action. The clowns producing this hairball should hide their faces in public.
You can tell from the very beginning that this is going to be bad. Even if you, as did I, go into it expecting very little. The setup of the movie is long and face-slapping cliché. The actors, whom we know to be quite skilled, are entirely wasted by bad bad bad dialogue and bad direction. The editing is not so good either.
And when we get out onto the ocean (1974 remember), we are insulted by Hollywood physics and meteorology. A huge storm doesn't even churn up the waves near the ship *facepalm*
Of course, the dorks then fly their non-vintage helicopters into the hell-storm, with super-fake lightning all around, and get through to see the beautiful islands.
Within a few minutes, ALL of them have been knocked down by insisting on flying close enough to Kong to get bashed *facepalm* holy crap.
Things only get more clichéd from there, with the grizzly 28 year survivor (with the 20 year old son at the end), the demented Samuel Jackson staring and almost drooling as he chews the scenery.
Vietnam veterans are insulted by their blind obedience to a ranting idiot. Civilians and military alike enter "the valley of death" in spite of the writers allowing some of the characters to suggest it's a bad idea.
And then it gets really bad. "OMG bad".
And in all of this, you feel incredibly bored. It's dull, and bad, and stupid.
Oh, and the "teaser for the idiots' sequel" comes after the 1,300+ lines of credits, if you are not asleep or barfing in the toilet.
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