‘Kong: Skull Island’ and The Return of the King

By: Ali Habous

Some monsters never die. Along with Godzilla, this building sized ape is going to outlive us all. It is a wondrous image seeing this giant creature beating on his chest, screaming, and annihilating everything in his path. After Director Peter Jackson’s (The Lord of the Ring Trilogy) take on the giant ape in his 2005 hit King Kong, it was only a matter of time until a big production company decided to bring back the king of all monsters. And here it is, Kong: Skull Island produced by Legendary entertainment with a 200 million dollar price tag and directed by the relatively new director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Does Kong: Skull Island justify its own existence? I’d say to a certain extent. Let’s begin with the positives first. I read some complaints about the story, as in it’s not up to par in this movie, but I honestly don’t think those criticisms are fair. It is a monster movie on an island and the film-makers take us there with a team of explorers aided by an army unit to discover the island’s secrets. It is a movie of movement and action and that is expected and acceptable. The visuals are fantastic in every way, the monsters are very well realized on the big screen and they look great. It is easy to tell from this film that the graphics and CGI reached new limits these days and they are used to near perfection here. I was happy to see the director capably delivering some good tension in a few action scenes, and the movie never takes itself seriously, at times even taking a satirical approach.

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Unfortunately, there are some obvious negatives in Kong: Skull Island that will prevent it from reaching the heights of timeless monster classics like Jurassic Park or Alien. I understand that character background or deep character development is not a priority for action oriented film-makers, but here they totally go overboard to the degree that there not a single developed character in the whole movie. The characters serve as delicious meals for the monsters and we don’t get the chance to care about any of them. Big names like Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman are filling the shoes of characters in no need of big names. Even though director Jordan Vogt-Roberts does well in the action scenes, he is not able to infuse the images with a sense of wonder that other big budget veteran directors like Peter Jackson or Ridley Scott are naturally able to.

Even though Kong: Skull Island is not the perfect monster movie, or one of the best ones for all that matter, it is still an entertaining picture. It is visually appealing, fast-paced, and sometimes exciting. For an action movie, that is good enough.

Rating: 6.5/10

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