Monday, March 20, 2017

Movie Review: KONG: SKULL ISLAND (Review #2)

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific that is as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

What starts out as a well oiled, climactic first act with a big big promise slowly meanders its way more and more through second and third acts that constantly make the viewer less and less involved in any of the struggle, culminating in a very underwhelming finale.

Unfortunately this film is one of those that relies a little too much on its eye candy. Whilst you may (or may not) be entertained by the big set pieces and the wonderful design and look of the monsters, the more you think about it the more the movie sticks out as uneven and terribly fragmented in almost all of its departments with many basic story threads not working.

What I will say is that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts nails the monsters. I'll touch on the CGI quality later, but on a level of scale, fear, imagination, and action he is almost constantly delivering. The fights with Kong are always shot in a wide, sweeping shot that turns around him and holds on for a long time. Those are absolutely incredible. They are sophisticated, beautiful shots to which sounds adds a real savage nature and together bring a real enthusiasm for the audience to the fights. Moreover, the various other monsters from the island are all interesting creatures and all feel part of the island.

Furthermore, the director shows off quite a drive in his first act. The journey to the island is riveting and builds with constantly good editing and witty cinematography choices that always keep us oriented in what's going on. The first full blown action sequence is amazing, really absolutely stunning. He places the camera in the most interesting places and it throws us into the world and the size of Kong.

But, after that, it is all downhill. The emptiness of these characters slowly reveals itself and, once we're at the end of the second act, it just becomes forced scene after forced scene of romance. The more it goes on the more it seems to completely fall apart. By the last action sequence the suspension of disbelief has totally disappeared. The characters are doing stuff that is out of their abilities, the set pieces become ridiculously bloated, the green screen CGI becomes almost unacceptable, the amount of explosions is borderline parodic, and you're left uncaring of anything or anyone. There is no interesting struggle at the end, and the climax is underwhelming. Many choices of setting and build up seem really out of place, the whole dynamic that evolves at the end, in (without spoiling anything) where they find themselves and where they have to go, is shallow. Capping it off is one of the worst characters and portrayals I have seen in a motion picture ever. John C. Reilly is a travesty every time he is on screen. There is no contribution he brings to the story and weakens it because of his terrible dynamic that is neither funny nor interesting.

This was definitely a weak day at the theater for me. The first act revved me up, it was really good and had a charm to it, it managed to build excitement very effectively. Sad that it didn't deliver on that promise and gave us a pretty mediocre blockbuster.

James' Score: 5/10

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