O@tM: Kong: Skull Island

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A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Let’s get this out of the way first: A IMDb rating of 6.8 is much too high for a glorified, overproduced B-movie. And that’s what Kong is, nothing but a b-movie. We’ll get into that a bit later, but first let’s see what Kong brings to the table in his latest rendition, shall we?

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No shit: Kong is actually that huge in this movie! 😮 Because bigger = betterer, right?

What first hit me was the pretty pristine photography of Kong: Skull Island. Yes, ok it’s mostly CGI stuff but brought to really good use here. We see immediately this isn’t an underfinanced small project but a carefully produced movie, aimed at the big screen.

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The posters looked very promising …

And we see a lovely cast of famous actors. Tim Hoddleston, Sam Jackson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly are promising a great ensemble to play with and against each other. Add Brie Larson as the (sadly) lone female heroine to the group and we have something great to work with.

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… but the movie couldn’t deliver.

It’s not totally true tho, that Larson is the only female in the group of explorers. But Tian Jing as the scientist San is unfortunately totally underutilized and wasted in her pretty small role. Some female bonding, some girlpower? Nope, not in Kong’s kingdom. 😦

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Yeah, Kong is the king around here. We get it.

Not that Mrs. Larson has much more impact on the movie as the tough war photog Mason Weaver. That’s some unforgivable weakness of the totally underdeveloped screenplay. The two girls alone would’ve lifted the movie onto a whole new level. But obviously some Hollywod execs had different ideas at the many coke parties committee meetings.

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I wonder if the King brushes his teeth before or after nomming a sumptuous portion of the explorers.

But it’s not like Kong is a macho-movie, an anti-feminism thingy. All the male characters were equally flat and stereotypical. Particularly disappointing we found John Goodman. Heck, he was supposed to be the driving power, the heart and soul of the whole expedition. We expected his Bill Randa to be a totally driven megalomaniac, yet he stayed pale and quiet and was taken out of the equation – and inserted into Kong’s belly – much too early anyway. Weird, since his role got the most time attributed to establish his character and motivation.

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“Here here, good doggie.”

Tom Hiddleston as the survival expert James Conrad was equally pale. Hell no, this ain’t how we imagined the only real hero to be portrayed like. Also the blooming romantic relationship with Larson’s character was totally underplayed, undramatic and just anaemic.

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Kong saves the crew from the skullcrawlers.

So, now whom have we left from this great ensemble? Samuel L. Jackson as the military leader of the expedition. A man every school kid in a stage play could play much more believable than Jackson did it in Kong. Here we get to see Jackson’s Preston Packard as a total gaga nutcase, staggering from one irrational decision to the next and doing nothing for the advancement of the move. Jackson, as we all know, is capable of saving pretty much every shitty film all by himself with his trademark overacting. Buddha, I wished for him do grab into his bag of magic tricks in Kong as well. But no, the director obviously told him not to steal the limelight from all the other actors. As a result we see major or colonel Packard as nothing but a special case of nuisance, an unhealthy, annoying character. Every scene Sam Jackson appeared in we were like “Oh no, not him again …” And again, that’s not Mr. Jackson’s fault, absolutely not.

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Sadly this movie didn’t even get the “blonde in the claw” scene right. Not only because Brie Larson ain’t a blonde. 😉

So all we have left is John C. Reilly. Not a Hollywood topstar, not a very defined actor but – let’s be honest now – he singlehandedly saved Kong: Skull Island from sinking! How he did it? With exactly what the others should’ve done as well, mercilessly overacting, being hilarious in every scene he was in. What could have badly backfired and turned the earnest Kong franchise into a mere comedy worked out quite fine for him. He was the comedic relief in a rather brutal kill or be killed film. Simple as that. And Reilly made it work. In a movie where the whole cast is made up from badly written, unremarkable characters, a movie where we don’t care if our heroes live or die, he was the only one who was wearing some flesh on his pretty skelettal character.

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Kong’s parents: R.I.P.

But, wait, theer is one more character we have to mention, the king of the island himself, the great Kong. Apart from his giant size I found him also rather disappointingly written. Not that I expected him to engage in a meaningful conversation with the dummy cast. They were hardly able to speak anything that made sense themselves. No, I mean he didn’t really interact with the cast, not even with Brie Larson, which with he had the whopping shared screen time of maybe like 2 minutes or so. And the way he was found … remember the older King Kong movies? It always took our heroes like almost half of the film runtime before they had the first encounter with the king of the Kongs. not so in Skull Island. Our team haven’t evenb set foot on the ground and flying a little sightseeing tour with their helis, when suddenly RAM BANG! one of the choppers gets snatched out of the air … by a giant fist! Woah! Than another and another, and some more. Voila, there he is: Kong! Unannounced and very sudden and … yes, rather bad for the script. We didn’t have any time to prepare for his first majesthetic appearance but already half of our crew is gone. 😮

That is the way the story of Kong is told. No suspense, not a single good character, no cleverness. Just flashy action and bad editing.

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Never before was he this annoying: Sam Jackson as a poor Captain Ahab impersonator.

CONCLUSION:  As already mentioned, Kong: Skull Island is a bonafide B-movie, a trash film, something that will be running on sunday afternoons in stupid networks with no budget for good blockbuster movies. Astonishingly was Kong set up to start a new franchise of King Kong movies, with the next being a King Kong vs Godzilla remake, scheduled for 2020. We’d expected the boot movie to be a bit more lovingly made. How about a bit more perspective, more fleshed out characters with something to say and real interests? Hm? Is a good, entertaining script so hard to come by these days in  the capitol of American creatives, Hollywood, CA?

One thing that saved Kong from deletion off our movie platter right away, was that it avoided one heavy mistake so many movie are making these days: Kong didn’t bore us but entertained us during its whole runtime. What else can one expect these days?

Oh, and almost forgot to mention: The action was very convincing, not just ceverly edited without any impact but stuff did indeed happen on screen.

WATCH IT? If you wanna, pff, please go ahead. It won’t hurt.

KongsPeople
One of Kong’s people.

THE EXPERTS:

My girl CBG19 found Kong trashy but entertaining.

Stuckman was less impressed with Kong.

Jeremy didn’t like it at all.

Island dweller Mark Kermode was suprised by how much he liked this movie about the other island dweller.

 

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