Kong: Skull Island (2017)
March 21, 2017 11:15 AM - Subscribe

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Vox: Depending on the version you’re watching, he’s a metaphor for the American working class, the environment, the pure magic of the movies, or the unpredictability and terror of the natural world. Those who pursue him are rather like Ahab in Moby Dick — they know they must possess or kill the beast, because that’s what we do with things we don’t understand. We dissect them and put them on display.

Polygon: The East Asian market wants blockbusters — as seen from the profit films like Pacific Rim and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made overseas — and Tencent Pictures wants to corner it.

What does that have to do with Skull Island? From the very beginning of the film there are two very notable aspects. The first is that dialogue was sacrificed in favor of visual effects and the second, perhaps the most important, is that the Americans are villains. Kong: Skull Island is an anti-war movie and the Americans are the bad guys. They’re invading Kong’s home the same way they invaded Vietnam. They’re blood hungry, and would rather kill anything that gets in their way than find another solution.


NYT: Over the years, critics have pushed and pulled at “King Kong,” denouncing its representation of the islanders (played by black actors in the 1933 film) and reading it metaphorically through black masculinity and white femininity. Later Kong movies have tried to sidestep criticism by changing the representation of the islanders while leaving beauty and the beast intact. Yet even as “Skull Island” avoids some stereotypes, it embraces others, partly through a struggle that pits a pathological black character against a pair of white saviors. Kong, meanwhile, at times feels sidelined, brought out every so often to wreak havoc and briefly exchange soulful looks with Mason.
posted by FJT (9 comments total)
 
There was something about Samuel L. Jackson's performance that bothered me, and I cannot put my finger on it. But I kept getting a sense that when the camera wasn't on him, he would roll his eyes and sigh with some exhaustion.

Also there wasn't a lot of Kong himself or interesting things. Like one character upon hearing this high pitched screech was like, that's ants. It sounds like a big bird, but it's ants. And for a moment I was excited to see huge gigantic ants, but nope. They were mentioned and then moved on. It was like that. You kept waiting for something interesting and then not getting a lot. I mean, you got the giant stick bug and you saw a giant octopus. But really, you saw more of those weird not snake-not lizard things. You saw more of those than Kong even.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 1:09 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


There was something about Samuel L. Jackson's performance that bothered me, and I cannot put my finger on it. But I kept getting a sense that when the camera wasn't on him, he would roll his eyes and sigh with some exhaustion.

I'm a big Samuel L Jackson fan but he was the one thing about this movie I didn't like. He seemed to be laying it on pretty thick, to the point of almost caricaturing his performances in, for example, Deep Blue Sea and Snakes on a Plane. It'd be one thing if the movie let the audience in on the joke if that's what it was meant to be but apparently his character's behavior was supposed to be taken seriously. Or at least as seriously as you can take anyone in a movie about a ten-story gorilla.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:52 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Also there wasn't a lot of Kong himself or interesting things.

Oh, oh, quelle fucking surprise. I get that money isn't infinite but I am about up to my got-durned lobes with continent-budget blockbuster mega-movies that are supposed to be about Godzilla or Kaiju or King Kong, but, hey, no, what the people really need is some boring romance bullshit between two dumbasses, or some idiot kid getting separated from its idiot parent, or science guy, or some kind of human drama garbage. Like Pacific Rim was basically movie of the decade for the fifteen minutes of actual rimming that went on, and the new Yank Godzilla was great when monster stuff was actually happening, before we cut away from the briefly-glimpsed distant shot of Godzilla to watch some moron bulging their eyes in a shed. And wow, now we have a new King Kong movie literally called KONG SKULL ISLAND and the bit they focus on is...island? Hnng!
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:41 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


But really, you saw more of those weird not snake-not lizard things. You saw more of those than Kong even.

Yeah, it figures. It costs exactly as much to render some idiot shit-lizard as it does to render King Kong. Just because Kong is conceptually bigger doesn't mean he uses more gigabytes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:43 PM on March 21


There were too many unmemorable characters that had no purpose. Some people on the Internet defend this using the argument that like Godzilla, the humans are supposed to be boring and underdeveloped. But my argument is you could tossed out a lot of the fluff characters and it wouldn't change the movie that much. You could cut out most of Sam Jackson's squad, San, Houston Brooks, and the Landsat Guys. And you could also have just combined Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston into just a British explorer/journalist type.

Also, I didn't feel like any of the characters grew or developed. The only one that comes close is John C. Reilly's character, because he got to go home. Once again, the Internet argues that this is a monster movie and supposed to be about Kong, but we the audience don't really get anything from him either. We don't even see him gain closure for killing the big skullcrawler that murdered his family.

Finally, this movie actually reminded me a lot of Aliens. Both use elements of the Vietnam War. Both have ensemble casts that mix soldiers with people working with shady companies. Both have monsters as established characters. Both are sci-fi (Kong, since it's in the Godzilla universe is more anchored scifi now). But Aliens does a lot better with the previous problems I mentioned than Kong had. Maybe that's not fair, but there's a clear blueprint of ensemble action films out there and for some reason a lot of writers and directors suck at it. I'm talking this and especially Suicide Squad.
posted by FJT at 9:53 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Interesting how you mention those overtones of the Vietnam War; I kept seeing references to Apocalypse Now --- from Kong's advertising posters to bits of the music to some of the action.
posted by easily confused at 4:35 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I went in with low expectations and quite enjoyed it. It was not the ponderous, faux-important type of disappointing crap Godzilla was. I liked the pace, I thought the monsters were plentiful and interestingly designed and the action was well-shot. It wasn't innovative or really special in any way, but it satisfied my desire for a reasonably well-executed popcorn-muncher for a discount Tuesday matinee. As far as the character of Kong in general, I have no attachment.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:30 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Like Pacific Rim was basically movie of the decade for the fifteen minutes of actual rimming that went on

wiggle_eyebrows.gif

Not sure I agree about Pacific Rim, perhaps because it did a good job of showing people living in a world that was completely shaped by monsters so it felt like they were always present even when they weren't actually, uh, rimming. I also liked the Jackson one for creature feature quantity, though it could have easily lost half an hour of overall runtime.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:43 PM on March 22


SLJ's character says "hold on to your butts" at one point in this movie, which I thought was really funny but it also pricked my ears to attention and I thought I might have noticed other references to movies he's been in (Fox Force 5?) I'd need to re-watch and do a careful analysis (which I'm not sure how willing or gung ho I am to do), but it would be interesting, and really funny if there were in fact 'easter eggs'? referencing other SLJ movies.
posted by supermedusa at 8:08 AM on August 24


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