Kong: Skull Island – A Big Tease With Some Explosions

Courtesy Warner Brothers

Set in 1973, John Goodman stars as Bill Randa – an explorer obsessed with the opportunity to visit a mystical, mythical island in the middle of the Pacific.  American satellites have captured an image of it, and Randa sways the U.S. government to help bankroll an expedition by convincing a senator the Soviets might get there in a matter of days if they don’t act now.

He’ll need a team, so he recruits photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and former war hero James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), while being granted the services of a top notch military squad led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson).

Upon their approach to Skull Island, Randa and the team decide to drop some seismic charges to help gauge the depth of the island, but they also awaken a massive giant.  King Kong was taking a nap, they woke him up, and he’s very grumpy.

Can they survive on this island until the rest of the squad comes to pick them up?

What else is on this island?

Will they discover why so many planes and ships disappear around this portion of the ocean?

Kong: Skull Island is an action movie trying to be a little more sarcastic than that, but they should stick to the action.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and the three person writing team want to establish a tone somewhere between campy B-Movie and Saturday Afternoon Serial, much like the Indiana Jones trilogy, but they don’t have a Harrison Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg involved with this movie to make it better.

Some of the comedy feels forced, except for John C. Reilly, who appears as a World War II Missing In Action soldier who has spent decades on the island, which has caused him to both become kind of wacky and an expert survivalist.  Reilly knows when to be insane and when to make it more sinister, which makes him the central focus of almost every scene in which he appears.

However, Kong: Skull Island feels too much like a movie trying to intrigue us about the future, instead of delivering a strong film for which we just spent 10 bucks or so to see.  The action is exciting and the audience can’t help but marvel at the amazing physicality of Kong and his utter ferociousness.

Yet, Kong: Skull Island is short on details and depth.  The screen is packed with actors who aren’t being asked to do much more than run or act scared.  If you are a massive fan of monster movies, you will dig the little clues and hints being dropped throughout, while the rest of the audience gets a clear, no doubts explanation of where this film is going, if you are willing to sit through the credits all the way to the end.

Kong is amazing to see on the big screen with some great CGI work bringing him to life, and the action will keep you surprised and entertained, but don’t expect more from Kong: Skull Island than watching it become a simple appetizer for things to come.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Kong: Skull Island is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.