Kong: Skull Island – The Human Thirst for War gets Supersized

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Movie Review
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins

There’s a moment in Kong: Skull Island where I half expected and half wanted one of the soldiers on-board a helicopter to say “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” as bombs explode across the tropical jungle.

Kong: Skull Island’s tone is delivered mostly with a straight face and the occasional, knowing ironic smirk. It doesn’t always hit the mark tonally.  It does a good enough job in straddling the line in not taking too seriously a story involving a gigantic, towering ape.

As an escapist adventure thriller, Skull Island throws in some observations about war. It’s a subject that can be digested easier in the form of popcorn entertainment.

The dark side of human behavior and penchant for mutual destruction is embodied in Lt. Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) who in post Vietnam War is looking for a new enemy to set his aims on. Unfortunately, a lot of characters including Packard aren’t fully developed.

Both James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), an expert military tracker, and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a photojournalist, are decent characters to build the adventure around. Except that I didn’t become emotionally invested in them.  

Oddly, I cared the most for Hank Marlow, an eccentric war veteran whom John C. Reilly is perfectly suited to pull off. You can argue that as comedic relief, he’s doesn’t quite fit in with the more serious parts of the film.

The rest of the ensemble cast has a mix of likable characters and those who you want to get their comeuppance. Basically, you sit back and guess which characters will get picked off by the island’s deadly, monstrous inhabitants. 

This brings us to Kong himself. Kong gets quite a bit of screen time compared to Godzilla (2014). The special effects are pretty decent. It didn’t help that the theater screened War for the Planet of the Apes trailer beforehand which looked great.

Depending on each character’s point of view, Kong is everything from human civilization’s impending destruction to Skull Island’s savior, a top level predator that keeps the natural order of things in balance. I did feel some empathy for Kong and rooted for him.

Kong: Skull Island is entertaining and action filled. It never gets old seeing Kong smash, stomp and destroy things. If that’s all you’re hoping for you won’t be let down. Just don’t expect a spectacular, innovative story or fully formed characters to truly get behind.

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