KONG: SKULL ISLAND

May 23, 2017

Xaki Prattico

Since the captivating original hit cinemas in 1933, the tale of a giant ape wreaking havoc in New York City and climbing the Empire State Building with a pretty woman captured in hand has become well known and is back once more.

Kong: Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, glittering with an all star cast, proves to be an interesting and stylised addition to the Kong collection.

The film follows the background of Kong and his family tree rather than his later capture and mishap in America, but achieved a highly obvious but complex outlook on how humans treats nature.

I felt a sense of dread when the main characters first started exploring Skull Island, dropping bombs on the untouched land. Killing and burning plants and animals in their wake. One frame continues to stay with me, the image of flames erupting from the ground and reflecting off a soldier’s visor as he smiles with delight. I find this image powerful because not only do his aviators add to his ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude, but goes to highlight the destruction of humanity by men like him and the fact that we take pleasure or turn a blind eye to the devastation.

This is a constant theme throughout the whole film. The main group of explorers is divided in two, and the film takes great measures to contrast the immediate difference in attitudes between the groups. The first group pass in peace, discovering the rich culture of the native islanders and the beauty of the fauna. While the second group kills as they go.

By stylised, I am referencing the rather pointlessness and over exaggeration of some scenes and graphics. There are points where I wish the camera would just sit still instead or circling around making me dizzy. There are other times where the film leaves you thinking “was it necessary?” or “Is that it?”, and it’s clear things were added mainly for aesthetics rather than forwarding the plot. However, attention to detail shines when in  Mason Weaver’s (Brie Larson) camera lens as she takes pictures through her journey across Skull Island. The photos taken were beautiful and had the ability to seize the moment and summarise key points in the film. For example, the photos she took of the soldiers before being dispatched to the land are showing off their boyish nature. We then see her later taking pictures of the island villagers, showing their willingness to welcome the explorers and their everyday life. I can’t help but feel these scenes connect in saying that, yes, we are all people. We are all human.

Now, I adored the choice of cast. They were  well chosen and well played for most characters. The film has time to explore a little bit of depth behind each one, however not enough to feel attached to them should the worst come to pass. My favourite character was Hank Marlow (John C. Reily), a pilot to whom they found on the island and is the comic relief. I implore you to please stay through the credits to see a few extra scenes with him that leave you feeling just as happy as he is.

Overall, the film was interesting enough to hold audiences captivated but fell short in a few things. The cinematography was beautiful, but sometimes lacked purpose. Characters felt like they belonged to the world and setting, but were expendable. The conclusion was satisfying, leaving open for the classic films and something more scaley in nature after the credits.

And finally, I must express my utter disappointment in Kong not falling in love with Tom Hiddleston. I mean… Who wouldn’t?

Xaki Prattico

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