It has been 12 years since Peter Jackson helmed his explosive take on King Kong, can you believe that? That’s like going to high school and college twice. Yet, it doesn’t really feel like that, because that film was pretty massive. Now, in 2017, we have yet another version of the king of the apes with Kong: Skull Island. There were things that interested me about this film as well as things that worried me. I was a fan of making King Kong bigger than usual and how it’s in the same universe as 2014’s Godzilla – but at the same time, I love Peter Jackson’s version, which truly feels like it is King Kong, pure and simple. So, how was this version? Let’s get into it.
A washed up monster chaser convinces the U.S. Government to fund a trip to an unexplored island in the South Pacific. Under the guise of geological research, the team travels to “Skull Island”. Upon arrival, the group discovers that their mission may be complicated by the wildlife which inhabits the island. The beautiful vistas and deadly creatures create a visually stunning experience that is sure to keep your attention. – IMDb
I’ll tell you what I loved about the film – the constant focal point on the monsters of the island specifically. You had talk about the hollow earth theory, you saw giant spiders, walking sticks, squids, buffalo, King Kong, and an original monster known as Skull Crawlers, and what you don’t actually have – is the whole New York bit. I’ll tell you that right now. This is all about Skull Island, what lurks there, and what that means as a whole – ultimately connecting to that MonsterVerse that includes Godzilla. In Peter Jackson’s King Kong, you had one little fight with Kong and a T-Rex, but in this film, you get both fighting monsters and regular life for Kong, hunting for food.
The biggest drawback of the film is Kong’s movements. He walks like a man, like a Bigfoot, not like an ape. In Peter Jackson’s film, you had the brilliance of Andy Serkis in the role of the ape, and you know what? Kong acted like a dang ape. That’s really, honestly, my biggest complaint about the film. It’s like they didn’t try hard enough to make him seem like an animal. As if they gave the motion-tracking suit to some guy and said here, walk around – without telling them they’re supposed to be King Kong.
That’s just my first impressions, though. Let’s go ahead and break down Kong: Skull Island and interpret the stars.
PEOPLE SCORE – 6/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry 1
Okay, we’re not off to the greatest start with the people category. The acting was fine, but if you pay attention, there’s really not much range for anyone. I wouldn’t say they were really all that bad at acting; I would just say they could have easily been better. The characters are also…not really that memorable. They try really hard to have the characters played by John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson memorable, for instance, but they really…aren’t. The casting was fine and dandy, but there’s nothing telling me they were the only actors that could’ve played these roles, either. As much as I loved Samuel L. Jackson saying, “Hold on to your butts”, his role could’ve been replaced, too. As far as importance goes, each character does have a reason to be there that adds to the plot, so I’ll give full points to that one, but even so, there’s not a ton of chemistry in this film – not even with the girl and the ape.
WRITING SCORE – 7/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2
Next up, we have the writing category, which also just got an okay score. The dialogue was mostly typical, other than my favorite line from Samuel L. Jackson – which doesn’t count. It was a pretty balanced story, though. There was only two main stories going on at once, which I still see as balanced. The story, on the other hand, is pretty weak. I understand what the story was, but it’s all been seen before in different ways, and this version wasn’t mindblowing. Last but not least, I would obviously say it was indeed interesting, so take that as you will.
BTS SCORE – 10/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2
We get our first perfect score with the behind-the-scenes category. This is a very, very visually impressive film. From the CGI animals, bugs, and landscapes – to the vibrant use of different colors throughout the film – it’s quite impressive. The directing was noticeably pretty great, which was mostly thanks to camerawork that extends certain emotions without the characters needing to verbally explain these things. There was a lot of interesting editing in the film, as well, mostly with the action but also in other, slower moments as well. This film is as-advertised, and I even liked the music they utilized in the film, even though I wasn’t really familiar with everything.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 0
Next up is the narrative arc category, which almost got another perfect score, if it weren’t for the falling action subcategory, which got zero points. There just wasn’t any real falling action or returning to a new norm, there was a clear sequel tease and that’s about it. The introduction was mostly getting us acquainted to the main characters and why they ultimately go to the island. The inciting incident is obviously when they make contact with Kong. The obstacles really came down to staying alive while they try to escape. The climax was pretty epic and perfect, so all-in-all, this is a pretty decent category.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 8/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 2|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks you in – 1
If nothing else, you can tell from the get-go that this film is made for entertainment purposes only, because that’s what it is, super entertaining. It may falter in other departments, but not here. I would say it’s incredibly rewatchable because you’ll have a heck of a fun time watching it. I’d even buy the film because I did the same with Godzilla for the same basic reasons. I wouldn’t mind discussing the film in the context of MonsterVerse, but not much more than that. Does it suck you in? Yeah, sometimes…maybe not as much as it wants to, though.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 45/50
King Kong – 10|MonsterVerse – 10|Action – 10|Samuel L. Jackson – 5|Halfway Decent – 10
Now, we’re onto the specialty questions that I asked before seeing the film. First and foremost, does this feel like a King Kong film? Apart from my annoyance at Kong walking like a human being, everything else was in place. There were giant creatures, monster fights, and native humans…so that works for me. Does it fit well with this MonsterVerse that they are making? Definitely, even more so than Godzilla. How was the action? Intense and full of running and explosions. How was this as a Samuel L. Jackson film? Not the greatest. Like I said twice before, his one-liner from Jurassic Park is the best thing his character does, the rest is just really typical, forgettable stuff. Finally, was it halfway decent? Oh, definitely.