Kong: Skull Island. The scenery is pretty spectacular. The monkey isn’t bad. There are many moments of surprise, intrigue, shock and awe (as well as “aw, that’s gross”). But the storytelling is poor and that sinks the project.
The movie is set in the final days of the Vietnam War and with its constant allusions to Apocalypse Now forces us to ask where the line is between “homage” and “painfully derivative and stupid.” From the choice and use of music to the helicopter sequences to the journeys up and down various bodies of water to the napalm detonations to the singularly obsessed military officer, there are many points of comparison (though never even remotely favorably).
Of course, it is difficult to compete with the classics and, in fairness, there are a few bright spots. Samuel L. Jackson has some good lines in a pretty cool trip through the clouds. There are some good action sequences, particularly with the big guy tossing stuff around with the accuracy of Greg Maddux and his UFC-style grappling with various slimy creatures. I also really liked the island itself, particularly the glow of the nighttime lights.
Unfortunately, the list of things to object to runs so much longer that I’m not even sure it’s worth dredging them up. John Goodman is completely wasted. John C. Reilly is worse than wasted, as his lines and his story trajectory are painful. The Brie Larson “anti-war” photographer angle is even less developed than her would-be romance with the pro-war mercenary Tom Hiddleston character (If Kong had accidentally squished the Larson character in his clenched fist, that would have really made up for a lot of the movie’s other shortcomings). John Ortiz, who I loved in Drop, has no discernible role. Indeed, there must be four or five story arcs falling into the categories of undeveloped, underdeveloped, stupid, insulting to the intelligence, and poorly thought out (most falling into several of these categories) passing time until we get to the climactic sequence.
So the verdict here is to keep the $5 in your pocket. How this isn’t completely panned on Metacritic is definitely a mystery. I would have walked out, but when I looked over my colleague was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up.
The horror, indeed.