Kong: Skull Island Skips the Subtlety

Kong: Skull Island Skips the Subtlety
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Enormous in size and difficult to describe, Kong has a presence that’s impossible to ignore. His latest movie, Kong Skull Island, is a visually remarkable film that echoes the highs and lows as it’s 1933 original. The monkey is the thing to see, and the filmmakers are much less interested in everything else.

This Kong is crisper than any monster movie maybe ever, but that beauty comes at a price. Skull Island is a movie completely void of subtlety or discipline, which makes the story tediously mediocre to watch. But when Kong shows up? Boy does he deliver. About thirty minutes in is Kong’s first big reveal scene, and when he shows up, you definitely notice.

Everyone’s favourite gorilla is unquestionably the most interesting character. Some computer in a hidden Hollywood studio worked tirelessly to make him look and move with style. It’s too bad the action is unnecessarily gory more often than not, though never so bad to incite queasiness.

Skull Island opens in the early 70’s, rock tunes blazing, as an expedition of scientists, trackers, and some army guys stop for one last mission on their way back to the USA. They stop by the titular island, and just as they start dropping test bombs, Kong arrives and the prehistoric animal brawling begins.

This is not your standard King Kong movie, totally unique from the story of the 1933 classic and Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake. This new story is somewhat annoying with its desperate cleverness at the start, though the newness is refreshing, and sometimes enjoyable. The “all effects no subtext” tones are very Kong-like, and suit the monster movie genre effectively.

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Your biggest hurdle to enjoying the two hour flick is how forgettable most of the humans are. It’s challenging to remember any of the passable, infrequent dialogue, or any of the characters names. The all-star cast does a great job acting, with great focus, humour, and life. But so many characters are expendable (and not everyone’s around for long).

The movie is clearly a set up to the Godzilla vs. Kong blockbuster already announced for summer 2020 (and rehash of the 1962 flop), and there’s a patience-testing post-credits scene supporting this if you wait until the very end. (Though it’s nothing compared to some of the frustrating jump scares that pop out every 20 minutes on cue.)

If you were already interested in seeing King Kong “go ape”, you’ll be fully satisfied. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying this adventure dazzler at face value. The cinemas are likely going to be full this weekend of audiences with the same judgement-free ambitions.

Samuel L. Jackson appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden on Wednesday to promote the movie. When asked about seeing his own movies in theatres, Jackson said “I love going to the movies. I get my big tub of corn and a cherry slush, and sitting back in the theatre.”

That itself is exactly the way to best enjoy the newest Kong. It’s also the way I enjoyed the movie myself. Popcorn, cherry slush, and enjoying the most I could of a shallow boxing match between a monkey and some dinosaur lizards. And for a moment, it was okay.

Kong: Skull Island
2 out of 4 stars.

14A, 119 minutes. Action Adventure Epic.
Written and Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.


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