"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Movie Review - Kong: Skull Island

At one point in Kong: Skull Island, Brie Larson's character Mason, right before a critical mission, says, 'This is a bad idea'. The second film in Warner Bros.' MonsterVerse series sounds like a good idea on paper but something's gotten lost with its execution. The largest ape in movie history, Kong, is back but is his heart in it? I doubt it. This Kong is fatigued but yet he will soldier on to save those who need him.

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island wastes no time in getting the action started and assembling the team that will take on Kong. John Goodman plays Bill Randa at whose insistence this treacherous adventure is undertaken, Samuel L. Jackson as Colonel Packard is the military escort for this mission, anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad, an experienced tracker, are quickly introduced one by one.

They head into uncharted waters to an undiscovered island for a so-called geological survey. Within minutes of arriving at the South Pacific island, they bomb the pristine, lush green surroundings disturbing the peace and ecosystems. It's no surprise then that Kong comes out pissed as hell. I wouldn't blame him.

With Kong angry as an enraged mama bear, their numbers begin to dwindle and they are scattered across, the team later regroup and decide to get off the island. But not Colonel Packard, he has taken Kong's attack personally and decides to make it his mission to make Kong pay. Skull Island is a mysterious locale, with giant insects and animals (if you can call some of them that). The island is protected by Kong, who is regarded by the elusive tribe who lives on the island there as their god. 

We discover all this later as John C Reilly's Hank Marlow enters the story. He's the comic relief and a welcome one at that. His plane was shot down in 1944 on the island and he's been stuck there for nearly three decades. The world has moved on from the second world war to the Vietnam war, which has only just ended.

But showing that the humans have learnt nothing from decades of fighting, the interfering group of inconsiderate humans drop in and decide to play god, upending the decades old balance of the island. I suppose there is an indirect anti-war message in there somewhere but it's hard to see in between the violence and unnamed deaths of the peripheral characters.

Back in 2004, Peter Jackson paid homage to the monster movies of the 1930s with his own King Kong bringing startling emotion to the character through mo-cap genius Andy Serkis. Enough time had passed to warrant a film made on the legendary character. Jackson's King Kong remains in recent memory for many cinegoers, including me.

Here, Kong seems weary and going through the motions. The script does the movie no favours and besides Goodman, Jackson and the delightful John C Reilly, recent Oscar winner Brie Larson and the dishy Tom Hiddleston are completely wasted here.

The only saving grace of Kong: Skull Island are the stunning island scenes and the larger-than-life action scene. Watch at your own peril!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts; Story by John Gatins; Screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly; Director of Photography by Larry Fong; Edited by Richard Pearson; Music by Henry Jackman.

Running Time: 118 minutes


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