In the post-Marvel world we currently live in, the forces of Godzilla and King Kong are - of course - going to go head to head in 2020, so, to prepare us, Kong: Skull Island is here, to establish the character of Kong (for this new cinematic universe). But is he the King we remember?

Back in 2014, indie director Gareth Edwards tried his hand at a big blockbuster and gave us the surprisingly enjoyable Godzilla. However, in a post-MCU world, where no film can stand alone and everything must crossover and be part of a larger cinematic universe, we now have Kong: Skull Island, to establish the character of Kong into the Monsterverse ahead of 2020's Godzilla v Kong crossover. Similarly to Godzilla before it, indie director Jordan Vogt-Roberts - of The Kings of Summer fame - has been brought in to call the shots. Does it work, though? Is Skull Island the monster movie we hoped it would be? Thankfully, this film excels in everything monster related. As a pure monster movie, Kong is mind-numbing and thoroughly entertaining; a popcorn flick in every definition of what a popcorn flick is. And that's the biggest praise I can give this film. Every time Kong or any other monsters appear on-screen and there's some sort of action unfolding, it's a blast to watch. Our titular ape is the best character in the film - for better or for worse - and steals every scene he is in - as we would hope from a film titled Kong.
However, aside from some cool, entertaining action sequences (ones that most definitely push the film's 12 rating) and gorgeous visuals - this is one of the most visually arresting films in some time, so vibrantly soaked and beautifully shot - there isn't much else going for Kong: Skull Island. Peter Jackson's King Kong, back in 2005, is such a great film because it's so well-rounded, with well-realised characters and a strong premise, as well as all the usual great action and visuals and badassery. What Skull Island lacks is any real depth. Or purpose. It feels like a cash-grab film with the sole purpose of just establishing a Kong origin for the "monsterverse". Even Godzilla at least had some depth and somewhat compelling characters but the writing for Kong is so mawkish and poor that every character feels so one-dimensional. There are hints at intriguing enough backstories for some of them but the character development is awful to the point we just don't care for anyone; this is a big hindrance when the film moves its attention from the monsters to dialogue/character-scenes, none of which land because of the lack of compelling edge to them. On the note of poor writing, the comedy just does not land for me either. Aside from a couple of decent jokes here and there, the humour felt forced and unfunny.

Kong: Skull Island is by no means a bad film, it's far from it. However, it's not quite the great film it could have been. The film utilises its setting and scope impressively, displaying some gorgeous visuals and stunning cinematography - jaw-dropping shots are in abundance here. And the plethora of monsters Skull Island offers as adversaries for our titular beast to fight are all cool and, again, the action sequences are all terrifically fun to watch. Where the film falters, however, is in its execution of characters and story; the humans on-screen are all bland to watch and the story doesn't add anything new to the mythology of King Kong, aside from the fact that he doesn't chase the girl to New York and get shot down. The final shot of the film also undercuts the entire third act and it just feels so messy. That's what Skull Island is: a mess. An entertaining and certainly mess, albeit, but a mess nonetheless. Although, the film does excel in the monster element, as did Godzilla, so I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the pair collide in 2020. Just focus on the monsters Warner Bros, and leave the character development to other studios.

VERDICT:
As far as monster movies go, Kong: Skull Island is a mind-numbing, entertaining popcorn flick - packed with style, visual flare, great action and a scene-stealing Kong. However, that's all it is.



About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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