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Review

Inexperienced director causes ‘Kong: Skull Island’ characters to fall flat

March 21, 2017

A group of scientists, soldiers and adventurers explore a mythical and uncharted island of the Pacific Ocean. Big mistake. Their mission of discovery soon becomes one of survival.

With the newest edition to the long list of King Kong movies, “Kong: Skull Island” provides a lot to like and a lot to dislike. I couldn’t help but leave the theater feeling like something was missing. This film had a lot to offer, and yet it feels incomplete.

My problem isn’t with King Kong himself because, in that aspect, he is phenomenal. This is the biggest the Kong has ever been portrayed, and it’s really cool to see. He is, intimidating, has both rage and a soft side and the animation is fantastic.

The special effects and the action sequences with Kong are by far the best parts of this movie. Action that does not involve Kong is, more often than not, just OK. It seems very cheesy and lacks intensity.

My problem here is with the characters. The only really good character in the movie is the one that John C. Reilly portrayed. He is fantastic and adds both the humor and the emotion.

Every other character honestly needs work. Now, how is that possible? With a cast of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and a bunch of other faces you will recognize, how could this happen?

“Kong: Skull Island” had three writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly. All of them have worked on big name films you will recognize, like “Jurassic World,” “Godzilla” and “Nightcrawler.” Yet collectively they failed to write good characters.

Reilly and Jackson are the only ones to have any backstory or believable motivation for their actions, and Jackson is barely that. Leaving the theater, I couldn’t recall one good scene of dialogue that offered any type of emotion, actual humor or memorable dialogue, other than when Jackson’s character says, “Hold onto your butts,” which referenced the original “Jurassic Park.” I am really disappointed with the characters in this film because it had so much potential, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what it could’ve offered.

The next issue is something that is increasingly becoming an issue in Hollywood. This is the issue of handing a big budget movie to a director who has no experience with such films and who might only have one or two good low-budget indie films under their belt.

The director for “Kong: Skull Island” was Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Yeah, who is that? He directed the 2013 indie film “Kings of Summer” that had less than a $1 million budget and made close to that amount, as well. Unless you are a big indie fan, odds are you never saw this film. Vogt-Roberts had no experience working with a big budget, let alone $185 million, and it shows.

This, I think, is a big factor in why the characters are portrayed so lifelessly, boring and dull. Situations like this have become an issue lately. The directors of the newest “Fantastic Four,” “Jurassic World,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies and more have all had these issues. They have all done good low-budget indie films, but when handed a big budget, they fail completely or don’t do as good as they could or should have. Hollywood, please stop making this mistake.

With all of this said, there is one of thing that I really like, and that is that they answer one question: Where does Kong come from? I really like how they answer this question and the future possibilities that it opens up. I won’t say much more, but stay for the end of the credits! Overall, “Kong: Skull Island” needed work with its writing and directing but the special effects were great.

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