Cine Reviews: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ (2017)

Kong: Skull Island explores an uncharted territory of monsters, but as it provokes them to unleash their wrath through a series of thrilling spectacles built for our own entertainment, the ravenous fun that it takes us into grows to become something less of  what it had intended to be with regards to the themes that they touch on while showing off what’s terrifying yet quite empty. There are actually hints of a really exciting monster feature hiding behind the overpowering shadows cast by its wonders, but it rather quickly wanders off to a direction where it loses control of itself and just goes numb as the narrative that it walks on gets a bit too weak to fully compliment the macro-scaled adventure that it sets itself off to. A message about man’s lack of sensitivity to nature and his morality is wanting to be divulged, but it just can’t go off effectively – courtesy of a screenplay that misses its points much so more than it hits. It is actually a good time at the cinema, but sadly, it gets disappointing most notably when it lets you see past the truth that inside, there contains a compelling story that only gets squashed by such foolish creative injustice that the narrative department wrought.


The opener promises a genuinely refreshing treatise on Kong, yet when it makes you feel that it isn’t focused enough, it just gets you jumping to conclusions that this ride will be a rocky one throughout. Moving onward with the exposition in a fast-paced montage of a crew gathering, we shake hands with characters that seem to have something special to say – again, getting our hopes high for them to satisfyingly express what’s essential. Once the film gets us close to the island, the grandeur is immediately exposed via a Jurassic Park-like arrival where the imminent danger of fear begins to creep into the picture, and it is befriended by a breathtaking sense of wonderment. This goes on, and starts to make the film become a bit fascinating again, but something about it rather feels off once tragedy strikes some of them. The cast consisting of prominent actors can’t even give the best of performances to save the film from its own pleasures completely, but then again, if it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have survived on its own from the massive flaws that are just as noticeable as the ape monster that pillages. Stranded, we are left with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman – four great actors that the film makes a bore out of for most of the time.


Seeing them onscreen, and starring in a colossal studio picture is astounding enough, but like the film itself, they send us into a whirlpool of disappointment that slaps us in our faces, and only makes us regret that they were ever there in the first place. They don’t act quite poorly, but really, seeing their talents not getting pushed to their fullest nor meagerly excellent ends up being both a waste of their time and ours. Their portrayals don’t give us something to latch onto either considering the tragedies that follow their path, and it allows to make us not give much of a care to everyone even when an emotionally rousing moment that wants to involve us comes into play. When a character dies, it is almost devoid of any genuine emotion; if there’s any, it feels rather flat and forced to say the least. It winds up just like that since it treats itself very much as a big-budget blockbuster that tries to push in something that it wants to benefit from in terms of building a bridge for the human soul to get moved with – all without knowing the greater threats that gets in the way of where it desires to tread on.


For a tentpole film that pits humanity against monsters, the human element is a vitality that is left much out of the field – at times, it is felt, but mostly, it just fails to be convincing and indiscernible. Larry Fong’s immersive visuals are undeniably mesmerizing, and it does grab your hand into the environments that he photographs so wondrously, but sometimes, you just can’t help but look away and think about how vapid it feels once you are there. Undeniably though, it looks great in IMAX 3D – the tonal blends of the film’s adventurous mood sidelined by tension gets it feeling humongous, and is effectively boosted by the format’s more than cinematic scope.


Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is quick to prove that it is made for the big screen, and surely, the film never shies away from being like that. The entire experience that it gives is a pleasure for the senses since on a technical level though this reiteration of the infamous ape monster is a visually stunning adventure, it is one that also gets on the edge of artificiality in terms of style as it tries to be fresh, execution-wise. Kong: Skull Island attempts to give humanity to both man and monsters in true filmic glory, but all that rather gets slowly smashed by the humongous flaws that pounces on its every effort to do so.


* Kong: Skull Island is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Warner Bros. Pictures. See it in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D.


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