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August 9, 2022

Movie Review: All flash, no substance: 'Kong: Skull Island' underwhelming

Just before the third act of “Kong: Skull Island,” Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston and a gigantic CGI ape share a moment that is suppose to make Kong transform from a hundred-foot-tall monster into a savior. It’s suppose to be an understanding between man and beast that they are not enemies. That Kong is purely a misunderstood native trying to protect his homeland.

It’s awkward. It breaks the illusion. It just doesn’t work. 

This isn’t a spoiler, it’s a warning of what’s to come with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ reboot of the King Kong franchise.

If you are looking for destructive beast-vs-beast action you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for story, character development or good pacing and dialogue, you will be left wanting your money back.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a pure visual spectacle that tries but fails to make you care for its overwhelmingly large and replaceable cast. It wants to be more than it should be and I don’t understand why.

There’s plenty of Kong-led brutality with him taking on helicopters and giant beasts but the time in between drags. The film has one of the best action stars at the moment in Hiddleston (“Thor,” “The Avengers”), an Oscar award-winning actress in Larson (“Room,” “Short Term 12”) and the incredibly malleable John Goodman (“Monsters, Inc.,” “The Big Lebowski”) but they are all only there to get people in seats.

Larson plays award-winning war photographer Mason Weaver and Goodman portrays Bill Randa, the leader of a secret government research team hell-bent on heading to Skull Island to find proof of monsters. Goodman is passable but Larson is nearly nonexistent in her role because she is given a limited amount of screen time and spends most of it with her mouth agape. Hiddleston’s survivalist extraordinaire James Conrad is the generic macho man with a heart. Samuel Jackson (“Pulp Fiction,” “Avengers”) and John C. Reilly (“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Step Brothers”) are also along for the ride but both feel cartoony and out of place.

The rest of the cast is only there to showcase how deadly the island and its monsters are or to drop cringingly bad comedic lines.

You can’t help but to think that the cast’s immense talent was wasted in this movie thanks to the poor Syfy channel-esque dialogue and what’s worse is the use of big-name stars did little to push people to see the film. It made only $61 million in its opening week, normally a great number but not for a movie with a $185 million budget that was hoping to kickstart Warner Bros.’ monster movie universe.

With all this being said, there is entertainment to be had here. When Kong is punching things out of the sky, backhanding giant monsters and scaling mountains, the film works terrifically. The CGI is good enough to make Kong and the other beasts on the island believable but the interactions with humans are comical.

Grab a big bucket of popcorn and soda, turn your brain off for a couple of hours and you’ll have a good time watching monsters slaughter humans and other monsters. 

If you’re looking for anything else, you’re searching in the wrong place.

5/10

•••

BOX OFFICE REVIEW

1. “Kong: Skull Island”: $61,020,000 (Week 1); Warner Bros.

2. “Logan”: $38,112,425 (Week 2); Fox. Total gross: $152,919.158.

3. “Get Out”: $20,743,440 (Week 3); Universal. Total gross: $110,725,285.

4. “The Shack”: $10,007,551 (Week 3); Lionsgate. Total gross: 32,226,242.

5. “The LEGO Batman Movie”: $7,610,000 (Week 5); Warner Bros. Total gross: $158,813,660.

•••

COMING SOON

• “Beauty and the Beast” — An adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.

– Director: Bill Condon

– Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad

• “T2 Trainspotting” — After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie.

– Director: Danny Boyle

– Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle

• “Song to Song” — Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.

– Director: Terrence Malick

– Cast: Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett

• “The Belko Experiment” — In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

– Director: Greg McLean

– Cast: Adria Arjona, Michael Rooker, Abraham Benrubi, Tony Goldwyn

•••

“For the Love of Flicks” is a weekly column written by Sports Editor Tony Nunez. For comments or suggestions, email [email protected]

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