Kong Skull Island (PG-13)
Rating: 3.5 hearts (out of 5)
There are only a select few monster movies I’ll go see if I’m interested in them. The first Godzilla I saw was the Matthew Broderick movie that I thought was tolerable. I mean, Broderick was really cute and he aged well since Ferris Bueller. The screenwriting could have been better, though, now that I think about it.
The King Kong movie that starred Jack Black in, I didn’t go see it, but I kind of wish I had. And The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, even though it was technically a superhero movie from Marvel, it really was a monster movie, monsters fighting monsters, and it turned out pretty well done. Plus, the Hulk movie led into the stories of Thor and Avengers, which was perfect, even though Norton said no to Marvel to do the role of Bruce Banner again and they eventually cast Mark Ruffalo.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical about watching this movie. I was in denial that I liked Tom Hiddleston for his acting, his voice, and his bod. And also, I wasn’t so sure that it was a good enough movie to see in theatres. Even my boyfriend Anthony had his doubts and wanted to go with what the critics thought of the movie.
But here are the good moments of the film: It’s an action packed monster romp. All the monsters, including Kong himself, are done with amazing visual effects by ILM, Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas while he was working on Star Wars, and the same company my dad applied to work for them but later got a rejection letter in the mail. He showed me the letter years ago before throwing it out, once upon a time.
The casting was also kind of star studded. John Goodman was the mad scientist working for a science company called Monarch, a scientific agency that discovers new territories in the world, and he wants to go out to Skull Island to find out about these mythical creatures living there. Then there was John C. Reilly, the guy playing a washed up U.S. Air Force vet from the 1940s, who disappeared during WWII and was declared missing in action while fighting the Japanese.
The reason why he went missing is because he’s been living on Skull Island for 28 years after the war was over, and he missed one hell of a lot of history: the Berlin Wall going up, the birth of rock and roll, President Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and of course, his son’s childhood, because the last time he spoke to his wife was just after she had given birth.
Samuel Jackson played the real bad guy, as we predicted, for we got to see the U.S. military being the one that wanted to destroy the creatures on Skull Island. People in the audience were laughing when Jackson looked over at Brie Larson and yelled, “Bitch, please!” I was no more good. Badass.
And there was a whole lot of humor everywhere, and awesome 70s rock music. In the scene where John Goodman meets Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad in Saigon, the song playing in the bar is absolutely perfect… “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. When the two scientists go in to talk to Conrad the British tracker, they have no idea what they’re getting into. And when Hiddleston whips that pool table stick at the men who try to punch his lights out, the word that best describes him is, damn.
But here’s the thing that messes me up- the script. It could have been written a little better. Sure there was a lot of action and great visuals, but I felt like the screenplay was only written very roughly and very, very quickly that they finished the final draft only after two passes. I’m sorry, but a script needs to go through lots of drafts and revisions to be considered a worthy screenplay to get produced by a major movie company.
There were a lot of plot sinkholes in the story. First problem that came to mind was why did John Goodman want to throw seismic bombs at the creatures in the first place? How did he learn about these creatures unless we saw him encounter them before the expedition in the movie? What was his deal?
Second problem: not enough Hiddleston. Hiddleston got first billing, so he really should have had more character development as the hero of the story, trying to save Kong from the military and get everyone home. But no, the story was more or less about Reilly’s character stuck on that damn island for decades, missing so much American history and necessary immunizations for measles and polio while trying to get off that island. Also, I love romances, and I would have loved to see the romance between Conrad and Larson’s character, the pretty American photographer Mason Weaver.
So, yeah, the script was most likely still learning to walk and talk like a screenplay and it would have been better if someone did some more revisions and more passes. “Buy the premise, by the bit,” as Aaron Sorkin wrote in an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And when writing a script or a novel, you need to learn to be unpredictable. Other than that, this movie was pretty decent for a monster movie. I just hated the giant spiders that I had to look away and cuddle with my beau, which made the night equally romantic.
This is a perfect movie to go see with your boyfriend if you want someone to cuddle up to at the scary monster bits.
And all right, I’ll go ahead and say it. Hiddleston is sexy. Hope you’re happy, Loki.
-The Nerd Queen