In terms of genre filmmaking, 2017 is off to a fantastic start. With the likes of “John Wick: Chapter 2”, “Get Out”, and “Logan” kick starting the year, the future looks bright.
Hoping to continue the trend is “Kong: Skull Island”, a revival of King Kong set in the universe of the recent “Godzilla” film. While that film may have fallen short in terms of action, “Kong” seems to be its antithesis, roaring up impressive fights and special effects for a fun time at the movies.
Taking place during the 1970’s “Kong: Skull Island” sees a group of monster researchers investigating an island they believe to be infested with creatures. After recruiting a team of capable specialists, they set out to discover what is beyond our human knowledge. They soon discover that they are in the presence of King Kong, who defends the world from monsters who attempt to escape the island.
This film is bursting with personality, full of vibrant and unique imagery. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts takes almost every opportunity to make the cinematography stylistic. One example is in how there’s an orange hue over the film, resembling the look of old films from the 70’s. The camera is also constantly moving, making the film dynamic, even during the slower moments.
Luckily, this style never gets in the way of the monster fights, which are a ton of fun. Kong and his fellow monsters are massive, and the actions scenes are heightened by their awesome size. Punches, chokes, and body slams have a sense of weight and presence, having a real impact at all times.
The final action scene in particular made me feel like a kid again. I was shaking in my seat with excitement, failing to stop myself from yelling at the screen. This type of nostalgic TLC can be felt in all of the set-pieces, creating many awe-inspiring and memorable moments.
While these moments are fun, they are only moments, leaving us plenty of time to spend with the human characters. I can’t say that they are great characters, but they’re serviceable.
All of the actors do a good job, and the script gives everyone something to work with. The problem is that everyone just fills a role instead of seeming like a true character
The exceptions to this are Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly. The former leads a band of army pilots while he seeks revenge on Kong for killing his men. Jackson is playing Jackson, as always, but his camaraderie with his squad is endearing, giving some emotion to the violence.
Reilly seems to be having the most fun, actually encompassing a character with range and humor. He plays a WWII veteran trapped on the island after his plane crashed and is the effective comedic relief.
While no one else is doing a particularly bad job, no one is doing much to stand-out either. This can make the numerous stretches between monster encounters kinda slow. Also, there are too many characters, with most of them feeling like afterthoughts that were added just to be disposable bodies. Yet, I can’t say I was necessarily uninvested in these people, just bored from time to time.
I could sit here and further nitpick small details, or I could just tell you that King Kong fights an octopus. If that phrase excites you, then you are the perfect audience for “Kong: Skull Island”. This film has enough style and exciting action to entertain moviegoers of all ages.
Rating: If you don’t want to completely turn your brain off and still have a good time. Also, if you like giant monsters, that would help.
Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer