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Movie Breakdown: Kong: Skull Island (Noah)

March 10, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Hey, as good as the promotional stuff has been for this movie, and as much as I love John Goodman and Brie Larsen, this is probably going to be an enormous CGI-filled creature feature bereft of character but ripe with a giant ape punching things.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I think Kong: Skull Island would be a better movie if you removed every human character, aside from John C. Reilly, and just left Kong, big ass ape that he is, punching shit for two hours. Jordan Vogt-Roberts has, basically, made a filler film, the movie that expands the new American Godzilla world, the film that lays the groundwork so Godzilla and King Kong can punch the hell out of each other in a future slew of films. Set in 1973 as the Vietnam War is coming to an end, Kong: Skull Island finds a group of soldiers – led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Colonel Kurtz-like Packard – joining with a team of crack-pot government scientists – lead by John Goodman’s Bill Randa – a photographer (Brie Larsen) and a military tracker (Tom Hiddleston) to explore an island that, no surprise here, has a 300 gazillion foot ape smashing around on it. There’s literally ten minutes of exposition and character development before the whole lot, and their helicopters, are knocked to the ground by Kong, and then almost a full movie’s worth of half of them trying to escape the island and the other half trying to revenge-kill Kong. To say the least, the story is simple and the characters are nothing more than names, professions and guns. These are the types of characters that halfway through, you’ll ask yourself, “Do I know any of these people’s names?” No, no you won’t. You will know that John C. Reilly somehow manages a career performance as Hank Marlow, a WWII fighter pilot stranded on the island for three decades. His soft, wrinkled face and greying clump of curls fills every frame he’s in with a sad humor and a purpose not afforded to any other character in the film. Vogt-Robert’s interpretation of King Kong is a beautifully deadly creation, all shaggy fur and doleful eyes. Every moment with him on screen – punching snakes, punching octopuses, punching “skullcrawlers” – is a joy. And sure, yes, sometimes a human character pops into the frame, kills some rabid death birds with a sword, before sliding out the other side to make room for more of Kong punching shit. You could say there’s some sort of allegory about Packard’s character clinging to war in peacetime, but if you’re actually thinking that when the credits roll you’re far better at deciphering subtext than this viewer. Instead, this is a Friday night creature-feature dolled up with 200 million dollars worth of very nice makeup. Draw a fingernail through the foundation though, and all you’ve got is thin air. See it on a huge screen, cheer when Kong punches shit, and try as hard as you can to remember anyone’s name. Then, stand up, throw away your popcorn bag, and leave the theater unburdened by a single lingering memory of this movie.

One Last Thing:

Kong: Skull Island doesn’t offer any exposition because it knows you don’t need it. You’ve seen the trailers, you know what you’re getting into, and if character backstories and a plot with any teeth is what you’re looking for, well, you’ve been watching the wrong promotional material.

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Movie Breakdown: Kong: Skull Island

March 9, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The marketing for Kong: Skull Island has been super on point and I’m actually feeling pretty hyped about the film.  Also, I kind of like that the movie exists mostly as a way to eventually put Kong and Godzilla on the same screen together.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The setup for Kong: Skull Island is quick.  There’s an organization called Monarch, and they want to explore a newly discovered island that was previously thought to be a myth.  So, they assemble a talented team (of famous faces) and set out.  Once on the island, where the rest of the film takes place, things go poorly and a lot of people die.  Bet you didn’t see that coming!

Kong: Skull Island is a mix of three films – Jurassic Park, 2014′s Godzilla and Peter Jackson’s King Kong,  And by mix, I really mean mish mash.  So, some of it works, some of it doesn’t.  Kong is great, and he does exactly what everyone wants him to do – gloriously smash everything.  I also found John C. Reilly’s Hank, an almost-crazy pilot that’s been stranded on Skull Island for a very long time, to be fantastic.  Unfortunately, the rest of characters are very cookie cutter, the plot is as weak as can be, and the CG is inconsistent.  Again though, Kong gloriously smashes everything, so most probably won’t pay any attention to the film’s cobbled together core.  And you know what?  That’s OK.  If you just want to zone out and have some fun, you could do a lot worse than Kong: Skull Island.  Just don’t expect to dip into a second screening and have an equally good time.  This one definitely has “law of diminishing returns” written all over it.

One Last Thought:

Are you guys tired of post-credit scenes?  I knew there would be one at the end of Kong: Skull Island and what’s there is fine overall, but I still found myself annoyed by it.  Do they all have to “setup” the next movie?  Why not show something fun/interesting about the movie that just ended?  Make post-credit scenes great again!

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