Obscure film director Jordan Vogt-Roberts delivers audiences a monster movie that is high in thrills, but unfortunately devoid of investing characters.
Kong: Skull Island is about a government agent named Bill Randa (John Goodman), who hires Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) to guide an expedition to the uncharted “Skull Island”. They also enlist in the help of a war photojournalist named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and battle-hardened Army Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Sam Jackson).
Upon arrival to the island, our protagonists discover that it is inhabited by a giant ape known as Kong. Kong kills many of the scientists and soldiers that are sent with our protagonists, stranding our leading stars on the island to fend for themselves. They must now work together to make it to the Northern shore of Skull Island to be rescued, all while facing many perils.
To begin, the dialogue in Kong: Skull Island felt as though it was written by two people of very different writing quality. At times the dialogue is interesting and witty, helping to build up big moments in the film to great effect. On other occasions, the dialogue is filled with lame comedic banter, unoriginal commentary on the negatives of war, and devices to rush along the plot.
The poor dialogue often bleeds into the quality of the characters, as many of the protagonists are left relatively bland. Since most of the conversations the characters carry out are just one-liners masquerading as humor, there are no connections made between anyone. There are a few scenes here and there that are very obviously just for backstory, made to trick the audience into thinking these are well written protagonists. Sadly, they aren’t. Each character has their one or two quirks or traits and that’s about it. Except for Sam Jackson, who was fleshed out and had decent motives, I didn’t really care for any of the characters Kong: Skull Island had to offer.
Take John C. Reilly’s character, meant to be the comic relief, as a testament to the poor writing. From the moment we see Reilly, he his verbal diarrhea. Half-baked jokes are spewing out of his mouth constantly, in the hopes that something, anything, will stick. Sometimes, they do stick! And when they do, it’s hilarious! However, the overwhelming majority of his supposedly comedic lines are just obnoxious and don’t really fit with the tone of the film. Let this be proof that just because a funny actor is on camera talking, doesn’t mean that everything that comes out of his mouth will be comedy gold.
At this point you probably believe I hated this film, but the reality is quite the opposite. There were some very positive qualities of Kong: Skull Island, qualities that brought me a lot of enjoyment.
First off, I really enjoyed all the action sequences in Kong: Skull Island. They are all very fast paced, chaotic, and filled with a lot of really cool imagery. These scenes were by far the most exhilarating and entertaining parts of the film, as they should be. I think that audiences will get everything they expected out of the action and more.
Another one of the stronger aspects of Kong: Skull Island is all the well-crafted lore behind it. I’m not sure exactly how much this film has taken from past King Kong movies, but regardless the mythology represented is astounding. We get to see a variety of unique creatures (like cool gigantic spiders), an ancient civilization coexisting with Kong, and the unspoken laws that govern Skull Island. I found every bit of lore in Kong: Skull Island to be absolutely fascinating, as I am sure others will too.
I feel that Kong: Skull Island has enough positive features to it that fans of King Kong films should at least give it a try. I am aware this film has received critical praise from many, but I’m not sure for exactly what. The best scenes in Kong: Skull Island are the ones with Kong in them. Whenever he is onscreen, there is bound to be some awesome action sequences with some pretty convincing CGI. However, I feel like the film gets so bogged down in the underwritten protagonists that it can never reach its max potential. Leaving Kong: Skull Island to be a remarkably standard action movie.
The Verdict: C