Review: Kong: Skull Island [2017]

a review by the Azure-Winged Magpie.
(ft. the Brown-necked Raven)

The King is back baby!

Or is he not?
…wait. Who made this guy a King?!

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

OPENING THOUGHTS

Boom-shakalaka!

Kong!

(◔◡◔)

Side note: I’ve had a really hard time writing this one out. It’s been near a month! since I started writing it. I decided it’d be easier to write about the ‘MonsterVerse‘ instead. But I overdid it and ended up doing a full review of Godzilla instead. And just to add on to that… why don’t you read through our reviews of the original Gojiraby me! and the latest instalment in the franchise: Shin Gojiraby the team! as well?

Anyway… onto my shiny new review!

Enter the Kong! This is the second ‘MonsterVerse’ film to come out. And there’s a LOT to answer for. Godzilla was good but missed a lot of chances at being great (can’t complain though. Still love it to bits. It was SO awesome to see the ATOMIC BREATH(!) and all).

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And now we have this hairy pretender to His Holy Nuclear Scaliness Godzilla the God-King of the Monsters’ throne. Was it going to be good? Was it going to be bad?

Let’s face it… it was going to be bad. Wasn’t it? Yeah. I’m a bit of a party pooper whenever films like this are announced.

Look… the thing is: everyone’s trying to be Marvel these days. We’ve got this MonsterVerse. We’ve got the DCEU (get your shit together DC!). And we’ve got the Universal Monsters franchise too. And I’m getting a bit sick and tired of all of it. Just make good films people. Stop trying to tie things together all the time. Just cause it worked for them don’t mean it’ll work for you.

Marvel got away with it. The DCEU is a good example of why it doesn’t work (eg: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Man of Steel was better than those two. And that says a lot). They tried too hard and fucked it up.

BUT! The trailers looked awesome. The big ol’ daddy ape was swangin’-n’-bangin’ away in his full fucking hominid-glory. AND we got Monday-to-Friday Samuel L. ‘monkey-fightin” Jackson (probably) lit up on that ‘iridiscent green shit‘. Goodman being the fucking Good Man (like he always is!). And John C. Reilly just going fucking full ham hock with his bit.mmm! YUM!

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Along with those two… dropping in are: Tom Hiddleston (MAJOR hnng!), Toby Kebbell (hnng!), and Brie Larson (oh fuck yass pls! HNNG!)?! We’ve got a fucking deal!

(Don’t worry you dopey old Crow… you’re free to compete with these specimens anytime!Just not MY Brie [And I mean that. Next time you go through my fridge, hands off the Monday-to-Friday cheese!] )

Just based on the trailers… I didn’t care if it was going to be a pile of crap. Me wanted to watch it! I wanted so bad to storm my way to the front of the line. But like His Holy Nuclear Scaliness… I let humans be. If it were a line of other kaijus… oh-ho-HO!

Even though I caught this one at the cinema early, it’s been out for some time already, so I’ll jus’ let loose and give you the unabridged version of what I thought. I won’t go too far into spoiler territory though. So you’re safe here with this review.

Let’s see if I went ape-shit with this film or not…


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PLOT

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS [MINOR] SPOILERS

Monday-to-Friday shee-it… There’s a lot going on in this intro. So let’s break things down all snappy-like:

We have a dogfight during WWII somewhere in the South Pacific. The two pilots parachute out onto a nearby island and scrap with each other. A katana is brandished. So is a knife. Just as the Japanese dude is about to gain the upper hand, a HUGE FUCKING HAIRY HAND shows up and stops their scuffle.

(ʘ っ ʘ)!

Some years later…

As the Vietnam War winds down, Mr Bill Randa (John Goodman) and his geologist lackey Houston Brooks (played by Corey Hawkins) go through the government to fund an expedition to a mysterious island. After some rubbing shoulders and chinwagging with some bureaucrat-sorts and coming out on top, they start recruiting people for their mission.

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First up is the military support they asked for, supplied by the Sky Devils (a Vietnam War helicopter unit with Samuel L. Jackson at the front and which Toby Kebbel is part of). Next is James Conrad (Hiddleston – a former SAS member and a master-tracker). And along with them come two women: Mason Weaver (Larson – a photographer who Jackson’s character has a minor tiff with for losing people like him “support back home”) and biologist San Lin (played by Jing Tian from The Great Wall).

They approach the mysterious island (known as ‘Skull Island’well duh!) by way of a big-arse ship. The island is surrounded at all times by this big old storm and they only have a small window to enter and exit this place. When the ship decides to not go any closer (cowards!). Randa and his crew jump onto their air escort and head right in.

And how no one falls out of these helicopters… I ain’t got a clue. I mean… these things ain’t done got no doors. I’d never put my pretty bum in this situation. Tell you that.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Anywho…

Once they break through the storm (after a fun scene with a bobblehead of Nixon and with Uncle Sam yarning us along the way) they fly through into a tranquil-like landscape.

Something the Crow pointed out about the island after he finally watched the film is: how come everything looks so bright in this scene? And he’s not wrong. The elevation the sun’s at (IIRC) when they do get through… it should be blocked out by the storm. And NOW I know what bothered me about them whizzing over these gorgeous landscapes!

Anyway… they drop some munitions to see if the ground beneath is hollow (sigh…). Turns out it is. Yay!…I guess?!

And this makes a certain someone on the island very angry. You see (and as we later find out): it’s not the fact that the bombs are pissing him off (why?!). It’s that the bombs might wake something else up. Something that once slaughtered his entire species, leaving him all alone in the world.

(T︿T)

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And what happens when this certain someone gets very angry? Well… it’s right there in the trailer. He comes out swangin’-n’-bangin’! And once he’s done swangin’-n’-banging’… the film slows down a bit. Our main characters get scattered into three groups.

And soon… the other giant creepy-crawlies in the film are revealed (one of them’s kinda cute actually). Now don’t get me twisted: not all the giant creatures on Skull Island are baddies. They’re just animals. But while that’s all nice and good… there ARE some really bad ones out there as well.

And I didn’t really like them all that much.

Now I don’t think they’re all that liked by most people. But these creatures (the “Skull-crawlers” from the trailer) don’t seem to be part of the same species — even though that’s more-or-less what we’re told they are. But even ignoring that little issue, they just don’t seem like a good choice for the villains, unlike the MUTOs from 2014’s Godzilla.

I get that they’re just animals but damn… couldn’t they be a little more interesting?!

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One cadre of our survivors meet Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) — the American WWII pilot who crashed on the island (wait… where was the storm then?! I didn’t see nutthin’) after that dogfight in the beginning.

He explains to our survivors how the creatures on the island work and how Kong has a sort of an agreement with the ‘nice’ indigenous people on the island and how the Japanese pilot (who he became pals with — Kong sent them to couples counselling or something… I guess) bit the dust at the hands of a Skull-crawler.

Wait. What?

(> っ <)…you IDIOTS!

Do you realise what a HUGE opportunity you missed there you donkey-brain filmmakers?! Instead of just John C. Reilly catching up with all the shit he’s missed in the years between dropping onto the island and meeting these young-uns… YOU COULD’VE DONE IT FROM BOTH SIDES!

Think about it… THE BOMBS! The thing I was hopping so angry about the other day! Godzilla missed its cue by a pretty big margin. THIS FILM could’ve made up for it! Instead of jokes about baseball or whatever-the-fuck… AAARGH!

WE DON’T ALWAYS NEED HUMOUR IN EVERYTHING!

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One thing the Brown-necked Raven passed on to the Crow and which I’m going to mention here is that they could’ve also added in references to things like Japanese Holdouts.

Why do you filmmakers never think things through? While most cinema-goers might switch their brains off for the few minutes you actually put a story in the film worth the ink it was written on — we’re not THAT STUPID. Stop doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. K?K?! THX. BYE!

Anyway… I might’ve over-reacted there a little again. But OH WELL…

Our main cadre of main characters decide to make a run for it in the direction of the ship before the window closes and they all get stuck on the island for fuck-knows-how-long.  The others decide to stay behind and blow things up…hey. Humans do what humans do.

Massive creepy-crawlies show up and make life difficult for everyone. But don’t be afraid! Kong’s here to help everyone along!

In the end… the film has a few definite ups. A few periods of ‘meh’. And a pretty okay kaiju fight at the end. The people kind of suck. But it’s mad fun anyway.


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Om nom nom… Mmm-mmm! Sashimi!

EXECUTION

Kong’s a good-looking film. But I’m going to stop pointing that out from now on. Which film isn’t at least good-looking these days? It’s got a few funny moments. The kaiju fights are a little too short and kinda subpar when compared to the few minutes of battle in Godzilla.

I just don’t care about the Skull-crawlers. And I don’t really find Kong all that interesting either. The moments where the film shoves it in your face that ‘Kong’s a good king!’ feel more like the writers and the crew shoving a big juicy joint of ham in your face so that they can wave it about and scream:

KONG’S A GOOD KING! HE REALLY IS! NO SERIOUSLY! LOOK! HE HELPED THAT WATER BISON FUR-BALL WHICH SOMEHOW GOT CRUSHED BY A HELICOPTER FROM MILES AWAY! LOOK! HE’S A GENTLE GIANT! HE’S GOOD! HE’S GOOD! HE REALLY IS! (KONG’S A GOOD KING!)

Look. I get it guys. He’s our goodie-two-shoes. I don’t need the constant reminders. You might as well just tape it to the back of the seat in front of me.

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Nit-pick time! WHY is Toby Kebbell in this film?! He’s only in this film for like thirty minutes and gets the most memorable line in it. Other than that… yeah. I don’t see the point. The characters (however many actually count as characters that is) I actually liked don’t get much screen time. And the ones that get the most screen time are just… BORING. I mean: even Godzilla did a better job with their characters than Kong did.

Samuel L. Jackson is Samuel L. “monkey-fightin'” Jackson. BIG surprise there. And both the leading ladies in this one just plain suck. Brie Larson is here I’m pretty sure because they realised they had no functioning roles for women in this film. Jing Tian is just… here. No point to her. And I din’t even notice her either. The Crow pointed out who she was to me later.

Like I said. I had fun during this film. But I can like something and still rip it to shreds if I see problems. This isn’t a good film by LOTS of standards. But it’s still… fun…?

(ʘ っ ʘ)

Fuck-dammit. I need to get myself sectioned.


KONG: SKULL ISLAND

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Okay. Look. It’s a technically sound film. But it’s got a good number of flaws as well. It still manages to be fun despite these flaws. Just like with Godzilla, Kong’s the kind of flick where you’re going to be looking more for the video game model mentioned in the title than the people in it (I mean… seriously. They’re BORING!). And it delivers as long as you think about Kong and only Kong.

The rest of the kaiju/creatures-in-general are a let-down (apart from the horned furball! I want one. Now!). And the ‘big’ fights are kind of lack lustre. There’s a problem in the film where random side-jobbos jump into action scenes to add more bodies to the scene. Just think: how many helicopters flew into that storm in the beginning? And how many of them were there when they were being swanged-n’-banged around?

In the ‘green mist valley’: how many people walked in? And how many people are running around like complete plonkers when Cubone’s little half-brother is on the move and eating people?

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And on top of that… unlike His Nuclear Scaliness, Kong doesn’t genocide the ever-loving Nutella out of the Skull-crawlers. So… are they still around? Are they going to come back? Are there still Godzilla-MUTOs out there? I want to know.

I still had a blast at the theatre (although Kong’s nowhere near as awesome as Godzilla as a character) and the post-credits sequence made me near sqeual with excitement. There’s A LOT of things coming.

I just wish they’re done well.

Now… the Brown-necked Raven wants a spot to say his piece about this film. So before I flap away: thanks to the Crow for helping me finish this! And next up: we’re going to fight about the MonsterVerse!

Love you loads. Ta-ta!

(◔◡◔)

Azure-Winged Magpie… up. Up! And AWAYYYY!bonk!


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THE BROWN-NECKED RAVEN

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Azure-Winged Magpie for letting me have a say in your article.

Now, I love monster movies. I have watched the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had certain expectations from this movie. I did not expect it to blow me away but at least expected it to be entertaining. I was left disappointed.

Some of the reasons have already been stated by the Magpie. Adding to what she said, why have so many important characters? Big characters are the focus points on which important events hinge right? When you have two badass characters like Conrad and Packard, why did you not develop their rivalry? All the characters felt underdeveloped.

Ever had cooked potatoes which did not soften while cooking? This is what it felt like. It felt too jokey. Marlow’s character especially should have been gritty. Here you have a person who has not met people from his part of the world for over 20 years. Why is he jumping around like a happy dog whose human has just come home? The phrase too many cooks spoil the broth perfectly describes the situation here.

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Now, I do not have a degree in aviation but I know for a fact that no helicopter can fly through a storm like that. Why not use a transport aircraft and fly over the storm? I mean, seriously do film makers think the audience is dumb? The ending is cringe-worthy as well. It is so cliched. They could have done so much more with the action scenes. It seems they went ahead with a tried and tested formula.

My disappointment is further exacerbated due to the beginning of the movie being excellent! I loved the touch of the bubble head. Now that is the kind of humour I like.  Overall, it is an average movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Nothing more than that.

My initial rating of the movie was five but upon discussion with the Crow regarding the fuckups, I think I will bump down a point.


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FINAL RATINGS

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 6/10

THE CROW: 3/10

Crow note: It was okay. I don’t really have much to say about this one. I don’t have any particular feelings either way about it.

THE BROWN-NECKED RAVEN: 4/10


Here… why don’t you lot take a look at a few of the pretty posters?

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kong

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