Kong: Skull Island: Lazy Script Holds Back Iconic Character

By Guuto Dolal

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island is the latest entry into the historic King Kong franchise, and Legendary’s new “MonsterVerse.” It’s also the first time Kong has been on the big screen in over a decade. The film has a stacked cast that features Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly. Kong is one of the most iconic characters of cinema and he shines in every frame – even though the people around him are bland and generic.

Kong: Skull Island suffers from issues that include a lack of character development and a formulaic and forgettable plot. This project completely sacrifices character for action, and it feels as if it was rushed to screen to follow the financial success of Godzilla (2014). It’s not an exaggeration to say that no character, other than John C. Reilly’s, is developed.  Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are attempting to give good performances, but the script limits them to the point that it feels forced. If they were given more to do or say, this could have been a far superior film. Vogt-Roberts builds an effective emotional story around Reilly, which begs the question: why couldn’t he do that with the leads?

The script feels lazy, as the entire film became predictable within the first 30 minutes. It’s filled with verbal exposition practically telling the audience what is going to happen. The suspenseful scenes are ineffective because the plot is fueled by ridiculous coincidences that always assist the characters. This is a disappointing effort from a team of screenwriters that included Dan Gilroy, who wrote and directed Nightcrawler.

The little praise Kong: Skull Island deserves comes from its action sequences. Never has the giant ape felt more intimidating. Vogt-Roberts effectively captures the size of Kong, giving him a powerful presence every time he is on screen. The legendary character feels like royalty instead of just a beast. The creatures that he’s fighting are menacing and entertaining. The fight sequences are intense, even though the direction lacks creativity. Every time Kong and these monsters are on screen together, the film works. This gives me hope for the upcoming sequel, Godzilla vs Kong.

Kong: Skull Island is a forgettable action film that is continually held back by its script. The cast is trying, but they’re not given anything to work with, making their performances feel bland. Kong steals the show, but as soon as he leaves the screen, the film comes to a screeching halt. This is the type of movie that you skim on Netflix looking for the fight scenes. Kong: Skull Island just isn’t worth the price of admission.

Grade: C-

(Featured image: Kong: Skull Island, Warner Bros. Pictures)

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