When I sat down in a theater to watch Kong: Skull Island with less than ten total people in it, my expectations plummeted dramatically. Then, a thought slowly began to creep into my mind. Maybe, just maybe, this is the best way to watch a movie… with low expectations or none at all.
This was how my experience with Kong: Skull Island began. I sat with my two teenage sons and about six other people. Granted, this movie could not have come out at a more inopportune time with Logan only being a week old and Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast about to hit the theaters. In all honesty, I almost went to watch Logan again, but someone convinced me to give the big ape a chance.
I was so pessimistic about this movie that I feared the Alien Covenant and Ghost in the Shell previews would be the highlight of my night. I came in with some knowledge of King Kong, having seen the previous renditions of the story. The only other prior knowledge I possessed was that the movie was produced by the the same producers who brought us Godzilla (2014). This gave me some hope for a decently entertaining movie, and the nerd in me was hoping for even the slightest movement towards the rumored MonsterVerse.
What Went Right?
The first positive of this movie was the cast. I had no idea so many great actors and actresses signed on to do this film. Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and even the quirky John C. Reilly among others. My curiosity began to increase at the possibility of such a combination actually pulling off a huge cinematic success. Alas, every great actor is usually only as good as the script and the director.
Amidst this star studded cast, Brie Larson in my opinion stood out. She plays an anti-war photojournalist who becomes sympathetic to Kong and does so in convincing fashion. Her emotion does not come across as forced or belabored but genuine. John C. Reilly provided some comic relief to take the edge off of the otherwise dark and hopeless plot-line. A lot of the cinematics, particularly of Skull Island itself were breathtaking. The CGI Kong was not terrible. The other creatures, however, just seemed off somehow and unconvincing.
The biggest thing that Kong: Skull Island got right was Kong. Some might claim Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters as the main protagonists of the movie. They might be correct. In my very humble nerd opinion, Kong was the ultimate protagonist in this story. As appropriate, Kong is portrayed as a benevolent protector of the island much like Godzilla ultimately was seen. This may very well pave the way for a union between Kong and Godzilla. That is, if we do indeed see the creation of the rumored MonsterVerse.
Overall, I would rate this movie as “to be determined.” It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was also not nearly as good as it could have been. If I had to sum it up, it felt like maybe it was rushed in the writing of the script, in the filming, and in the overall production. It had that B movie feel to it in a lot of ways, but maybe that was the intent so that there could be a connection made to the past. The movie does take place just after the Vietnam War and definitely has that “Apocalypse Now” feel to it which I would say was a plus.
The movie was tolerable as it stands on its own, but the real intrigue is in what happens next. Like all good nerds, we want the biggest and the baddest monsters….and we want them to fight! Time will tell if Kong: Skull Island is remembered as the beginning of the MonsterVerse and something great, or just another monster flick.