The Coffee Break Review: KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017)

This ape isnt monkeying around!  

RickWritten By: Rick Masters

Expectation is a weird thing. The more I review films the more I’m noticing its impact on my enjoyment of film watching.

After the crushing disappointment that was 2014’s GODZILLA I went into KONG: SKULL ISLAND with middling expectations. Now I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for large special effect blockbusters. I love a good story, A well-acted drama, an emotional tear jerker but every now and again I long for some brainless, explosion filled fun and that’s exactly what this film delivers.

Kong: Skull Island is a tremendous surprise. Not only is it a hugely entertaining monster movie, but a well-directed, well-acted film and extremely stylish from start to finish. Its action set- pieces are utterly spectacular, the CGI is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and there’s even a story that, although pretty basic, kept me genuinely interested throughout.

One of the greatest achievements in this movie is Kong himself. After just witnessing the beast in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and the soulless eyes that peer down upon Belle, Kong is a shining example of how to create a genuine CGI character with emotion and character. I was a little concerned how quickly he appears in the movie, deciding to show him in all his glory very early on instead of teasing him (*Cough* the 80 minute wait in Peter Jacksons version *end cough*) but I needn’t have worried. Kong actually plays a large part of the story and is just as big of a character to the overall plot as any of the humans. (GODZILLA take note… don’t just pop up when the movie needs some action)

It’s also a very different story to the classic KONG and I found that to be a breath of fresh air. It’s faster, more energetic, with only a few little nods to the original dotted in here and there.  A remake would have bogged it down and made it way less interesting…. Hollywood doesn’t need any more remakes.

The film plays out to the back drop of the Vietnam War and it most certainly gives this film a unique flair. It’s dripping with style, from the orange hue, the excellent soundtrack and some very impressive shots (some could be ripped straight out and put on a poster, no problem at all). The opening shots of the helicopters approaching the island with Black Sabbath’s Paranoid blasting over the loud speakers made the hairs stand up on my neck. Visual parallels with Vietnam War films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket are clear to see and I loved it.

The impressive cast do a great job throughout, notably Jason Mitchell as Mills, adding some well-timed humour throughout, along with a great performance. Samuel L is playing Samuel L and that’s all that needs to be said there. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly and John Goodman (told you it was a good cast!) aren’t monkeying around here… they won’t be winning any acting awards but they all give excellent performances throughout.

A few elements let it down and some of the spoken lines, notably from John C. Reilly’s scenes early on fall a bit flat. A number of ropey lines can be found here and there and some very questionable decisions at times to create certain scenes. (The cigarette scene felt was awkward, just to shoehorn an explosion in and demonstrate to us the floor was ignitable) These definitely could have been explained more naturally and were a little jarring at times, bordering on maximum cheese in others. Editing was a little choppy too, especially in the second half. Scene transitions and people ending up in different positions than the previous shot were jarring.

Overall I left happy. It’s an epic display of what a popcorn movie should be. Great visuals, soundtrack, and a pleasant plot that is not bogged down by the melodrama that killed the Godzilla film in 2014. It’s a fun giant monster movie. Rest your brain and enjoy!

Stay till after the credits. Kong lives in GODZILLAS universe now 😉

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