Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kong: Skull Island - Review

   The summer blockbuster season is expanding year after year. For a while it seemed like April was trickling out a few major studio films before the plethora of summer but now that falls upon March. With the release of Logan last week and now Kong: Skull Island, are we in the thick of blockbuster season already? It’s not a bad idea to spread the films out and when they’re just as fun as any summer offering who wouldn’t want to see a giant ape fight other giant monsters at the beginning of March?

   In 1973, former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) is hired by government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) to guide an expedition to map out an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean known as "Skull Island". Randa also recruits the Sky Devils helicopter squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) to escort them to the island, and the group is later joined by pacifist photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who believes the scientific expedition to be a cover for an illegal military operation and plans to expose it.

   Plain and simple, there is no plotline here. There is a story, though very simple, where the human characters have to get from one side of this mysterious island to the other, but nothing really happens to them outside of a few monstrous encounters on the way. And after seeing the film, I wish the title would’ve remained just Skull Island, as it’s really a feature on the island and it’s lore with Kong’s mythology being tied to it specifically.

   While the story is simplistic it’s not detrimental to the entire film. However the lack of any real characters is in a fairly significant way. Now it’s understandable that time may not have been spent on developing these humans as Kong is really the draw here, but since the audience spends so much time with the humans it really hurts the film. The only interesting characters are John C. Reilly’s World War II pilot, who has some of the few humorous moments that 100% work despite being a walking exposition machine, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Colonel, who actually has an interesting motivation and backstory but ends up leading men with little to offer in terms of personality.

   And of course Kong is what makes the film what it is, which is a fun film despite not being groundbreaking or great. Not only does the giant ape look fantastic, but also electrifies the entire film when he is present or even looming over the events occurring. The rest of the monsters are designed well though they serve little purpose outside of looking cool or causing conflict. They work well for Kong to punch and I guess in the end that’s what really matters.

   Overall, Kong: Skull Island is slightly disappointing though hardly a bad film. It over compensates for those that criticized Godzilla by showing the monster more and focusing less on characters. The humor from Jackson and Reilly gives it some humanity but if they wanted to focus more on Kong they should’ve gone all in and made him the star rather than the far more boring humans. If you’re looking for a film that looks great on the big screen and satisfies your need for giant fighting monsters, Kong: Skull Island will get the job done if nothing else.

   So what did you think of Kong: Skull Island? Have you seen it, are you interested in seeing it, and what's the best iteration of Kong in your opinion? Subscribe, share, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

Kong: Skull Island is due to be released March 10th, 2017 nationwide.