Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kong: Skull Island -- Movie Review and Kong Flick Comparison

Photo: from the film's Wikipedia page

Very, very entertaining monster pic that wasn't on my radar at all, but which caught my eye during its previews during other films, like Get Out (review to come soon). Quick warning: Wait until the end of the credits before you go, or you'll miss an entertaining segment that promises much for the future. 

It ends with a bang that really defines what works with this movie: It's simple, loud, visually eye-popping, and it has a sense of its own style that is similar to other monster (and other classic) movies, but which defines itself as well. You'll want to see this one, and probably to buy it for a rainy day when you're in the mood for a good monster flick. I'm thinking of watching it, back-to-back, with Gareth Edwards' recent Godzilla, and Peter Jackson's King Kong

Photo: 1976's King Kong, from its Wikipedia page. [For Christmas?]

Because the comparison is gonna happen, I'll get it out of the way here: this movie, and Jackson's film, are really apples and oranges. (And 1933's King Kong is a different food group entirely, by comparison to this one. This movie actually is closer to the so-so 1976 King Kong, but without Jeff Bridges's caveman look and Jessica Lange's unintentionally hilarious "Eat me! Eat me!" dialogue to an understandably perplexed King Kong. Lange gave it her best, but by God what a thankless role. Still, it made her a star. Naomi Watts's turn was an Oscar-worthy effort by comparison, but she had a much better script to work with. And the '76 film showed what not to do, which helps.) Anyway, this movie and Jackson's film don't try to do the same thing, as this is a reboot prequel with an eye to a franchise, and Jackson's was a straight-up remake that didn't want to go anyplace else. (But without it, Gareth Edwards's Godzilla doesn't get the go-ahead.) 

Photo: King Kong (and Naomi Watts), directed by Peter Jackson, from its Wikipedia page

Having said that, my better half liked Jackson's film better, and I'd have to agree, but only if you follow the difference I've just said. Jackson's film has better acting, and maybe better directing (though Jordan Vogt-Roberts does an excellent job here, which I'll get to; it may be a tie), but it also is much more depressing (remember the sucking creatures scene?!?) and it has the all-time sad ending that we know is coming. Naomi Watts does a better job with her character than Brie Larson (who I like) does here, but Watts's character had a lot more depth, and she had a lot more to do. Larson never gets that chance with her script, and does the best she can with the words she got. Essentially, she runs around and looks horrified, and then pleased, and then horrified, and then she runs around a lot again. But she does it all well, with spunk and grit. Her character has a point to make, though I'm not sure anyone knows what it is, including the moviemakers, us, and Brie Larson. (Actually, she's the audience's aghast stand-in figure.) Again, she does what she can with a one-note role. In truth, all the characters are one-note roles, without much else to say or stand for.
I mean, it's an action film, with creatures and such. Did Jurassic Park have great acting, outside maybe Jeff Goldblum? Nope.

This review of Kong: Skull Island continues tomorrow...


  1. Comedies are great when they are advertised as comedies. What's so funny about a 100 foot gorilla stomping around trying to kill you? When I heard those comedic one liners in Skull Island, I just couldn't help but cringe.

    Sure Jurassic Park was the same way, but I was never a big fan of that movie either. I saw it in 1993 along with everyone else and while I enjoyed the roaring sounds of the T-Rex, I couldn't tell you a damn thing about the characters. They were just stand ins much like the ones in Kong. I need a little more depth which Peter Jackson provided in his version. I rarely cry when watching a film, but the end of Jackson's King Kong made me tear up. That's what I remember most. That a CGI giant gorilla actually touched and moved me.

    Kong: Skull Island is a pure popcorn flick. It's enjoyable for what it is and makes no apologies for it. That's great. More power to all those involved and I will likely watch the next installment. But I forgot about it as soon as the lights turned on.

    I look forward to your Get Out review. Now that was a movie that made me ponder afterwards...and it was fun/creepy to boot!

  2. Thanks for commenting! Yes, I agree with your statement that this Kong was a pure popcorn action flick. You also agree with my better half that the Jackson Kong was overall better, but not for those only in the mood for a popcorn action flick. Jurassic Park was in the same vein, but deserves extra kudos for being the first of its type, and still hard to surpass for what it is. Spielberg was making Schindler's List at the time as well, so he certainly had his depth movie going on. Jurassic Park was probably a vacation for him away from all that incredible sadness.