Kong: Skull Island is not only the latest movie in the King Kong franchise of films, but following Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, it is Legendary Pictures’ second installment in a developing monster movie shared universe, though it has no connection to the 2005 Peter Jackson King Kong movie that remains divisive among fans to this very day.
Last week, Kong: Skull Island had its early screening and the embargo on reviews lifted today. This means that the first impressions anyone is going to have of the film are now out in the world with the ability to make or break the all important opening weekend at the box office.
The overall consensus is that there are moments of real fun sprinkled throughout Kong: Skull Island, but that on the whole, the movie is lacking in any real creativity or daring:
Variety – Owen Gleiberman
“The surprise is that “Skull Island” isn’t just ten times as good as “Jurassic World”; it’s a rousing and smartly crafted primordial-beastie spectacular. The entire film takes place on Kong’s jungle island home (he doesn’t scale any skyscrapers — in New York or Dubai), and you could say that it’s more action-based and less ambitious than either of the “King Kong” remakes …”
The Wrap — Alonso Duralde
“Filmmaking doesn’t get more corporate than “Kong: Skull Island,” which scratches your monster-movie itch without ever once providing an injection of unpredictability or eccentricity that might confuse a single half-attentive moviegoer. It lacks neither fun nor polish, but it has the square tidiness of a compartmentalized fast-food meal.”
Collider — Brian Formo
“Kong: Skull Island, they appear to have workshopped the film based on Godzilla focus groups. The titular monster appears throughout, it doesn’t miss a death scene and it still builds to a “let them fight” monster showdown.”
THR — Todd McCarthy
“In the end, though, it’s not the characters the audiences will have come to see, but the monsters, and the film doesn’t stint in supplying them. This Kong, who makes his entrance a well-timed half hour in, is far bigger than any before him, about 100 feet tall. Still, he faces fierce competition on the island from, among others, some toothsome lizards who happily take advantage of the change in diet offered by the new human visitors.”
The Guardian — Peter Bradshaw
“This is a Kong deprived of his kingship and his mystery, and even the title is a jumble, unsure of whether it’s the ape that’s the star or maybe the island itself, seething with loads of huge animals, scaring the borrower-sized humans who have rashly dared enter this domain. It comes to us from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts – known for his comedy before this – and screenwriters Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly and John Gatins. The script here feels like the umpteenth rewrite with almost all the humour and nuance chucked out to make sure it plays in non-English-language territories.”
Conflicting reviews can be tough to unpack. If Kong: Skull Island isn’t objectively bad then it can be difficult as a film fan to justify not going if one finds the trailer compelling and the actors interesting. On the other hand, if this is truly the paint-by-number movie that some claim, then it can also be difficult to justify spending the time and money to go and support the movie in a cinema.
However, if there are really good things to be unpacked from the reviews. It seems that Kong: Skull Island has a decent amount of screen time for the titular monster, which is something people are definitely going want. The action is praised and the battle between Kong and other monsters would appear to be one of the best parts of the whole movie. The question at the end of the day then becomes: what are people demanding from a monster movie? If giant creatures fighting is what it takes then Kong: Skull Island is going to deliver that.
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