AFTER seven movies since 1933, Hollywood just couldn’t seem to get enough of the giant Gorilla named King Kong. This year the giant monster is brought back into the big screen reboot in Kong: Skull Island.
The movie is set on a 1973 Vietnam War timepiece that is supposed to explain the existence of a giant monster that also helps in creating links to the Godzilla (2014) movie.
For those who don’t know, the Kong movie and that of Godzilla are all part of a one big movie franchise under Legendary Entertainment known as the Monster Verse which they hope to connect the films into one big build up towards two more movies that hopefully will feature other Japanese monsters such as Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.
Going into the movie, I was pretty hyped up as the trailer made a very effective job in convincing me. I guess for a whole lot of audience, this would be the monster movie to beat. And, yes it was good but it was not so better.
It was obvious that the movie was made to perform better in the box office and not so much on giving its audience a good deep storyline.
For a monster film, yes, the movie delivered in terms of its fight action sequences, the feel of an epic monster battle scene, pumped up musical scoring and good cinematographic moments.
The cinematographic element of the film feels like a copy of the 1979 Francis Ford Coppola epic war classic Apocalypse Now, from the use of the iconic UH-1H helicopters, the Asian scenery to the river gunboat cruise, the movie carried a very familiar tone or tune together with the Vietnam War era rock in roll beats that served as a beating drum on certain parts of the films momentum.
Action packed sequences, like the battle between Kong against the entire squadron of helicopters and against the lizard like two-legged giant monsters, the Skullcrawlers certainly did nailed moments for the audience to watch in awe.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts credits Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke as an inspiration and influence to the design and approach of the monsters.
Both the camera angles and the musical sound scoring helped in securing what the director of the film wanted its audience to feel. But it did not transcend into a better storyline or there was not good enough storyline to take audience into a much deeper sense and not just superficial aesthetics.
Another factor in the movie that drops off its path is having several main and supporting characters wherein they tried too hard to give us tidbits of half cooked backstories. Unfortunately those tidbits were not as cohesive nor did it brought audience to understand the humanity of the main characters.
Tom Hiddleston who played as Captain James Conrad, a former British Special Air Service (SAS) commando lacked the character's depth together with almost everybody in the main cast like Samuel Jackson as Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard, John Goodman as the Monarch visionary William "Bill" Randa and Brie Larson who played the role of a photojournalist. All of them are top notch performers. Unfortunately the storyline and script did not give them much to work on to give out their full potential.
Larson’s character of war photojournalist as Mason Weaver was a particular interest since it hit to my own passion and vocation but unfortunately she’s a Vietnam War veteran photojournalist who was not interested in shooting action photos in the Skull Island.
Instead she captured more portraiture shots than events such as those related with the soldiers in action, the wild giant animals or general shots of the awesome scenery which is very unbecoming to a photojournalist who is supposed to be featured in one of the biggest magazine.
The unexpected character in the movie was John Reilly playing as Lieutenant Hank Marlow, a World War II pilot who crashed and survived in the island for 28 years. His performance stole the show for everyone else considering he is just a supporting cast for the main characters.
One of the best scenes in the movie would be the group’s first run-in with Kong, which was quite amazing in terms of mayhem and destruction, the scene we could only dream of for a monster giant fantasy film.
What they did good in this movie, unlike Godzilla which took around 45 minutes for him to appear, on this movie that they made sure that Kong was seen right from the very beginning.
The climatic fight scene between Kong and the Skullcrusher was indeed an entertaining highlight that could be par with Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong fight scene against the T-Rex but this was way better over-all.
For a movie made to stand on an early summer blockbuster visually it was amazingly good; it might fall short when it comes to the over-all story and character development but the amazing visuals, sound and action covered up the lack of depth.
Kong: Skull Island is worth the movie experience and I am interested to see the battle between Kong and Godzilla in the next films. With that I’m giving the movie experience 3.8 out of 5.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 14, 2017.