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Tag Archives: review

My Review of Kong: Skull Island

17 Mar

March 17, 2017

Before we begin, I’ll tell you right upfront that though I am going to try to keep the spoilers at a minimum I have a terrible track record so expect me to spoil this film for you.

This is a fun film and I enjoyed it a lot, and although it is set in the same universe as Godzilla, there is no comparison at all. Godzilla was pretty good but ultimately disappointing, this one is very good and not disappointing. Unless you want to see him climb the Empire State Building. But what do you expect? This film isn’t called Skull Island for nothing. He doesn’t go to New York.

In a nutshell, a bunch of soldiers and scientists land on Skull Island. The soldiers are there to help the scientists with a “geological survey,” which was just a lie to flush the monsters above ground. And it works. It works really well. It works too well. Out of nowhere Kong decimates them and from there on it is a trek for the survivors to the other side of the island while dodging monsters and beasts, but for one man it becomes an obsession to kill Kong. (And of course that man is Samuel L. Jackson. The subtitle of this film should be King Kong vs. Samuel L. Jackson.) Will he kill Kong? (No. See? I told you I’d spoil it.) Will the humans make it to the safety of the other end of the island? (Some of them yes, most of them no.) Does Brie Larson spend most of the film in a tank top, often soaking wet? (Mercifully yes.) 

So here’s the good:

  • This film is faithful to the original from 1933, despite being a reboot and having no relation to the original. No, I am not drunk. Let me explain. This film is set during the 1970’s and details the first time outsiders set foot on the island. Take the original film- the island, the natives, the wall, Kong, etc., but now leave out Carl Denham and the rest. Imagine that they never set foot on the island. In Skull Island, it is easy to believe that this is what the original island would be like if no one else ever set foot on it. Sure, they updated it a bit, but this is clearly the same island. Also, the film opens with the sound of old airplanes and machine gun sounds over the credits, which leads into the first scene of a WWII air battle, but I also found it to be a homage to the climax of the original film.
  • It can actually be compared to Apocalypse Now. Yes, really, and I am not just talking about the posters. 
    Skull Island generally follows the same basic plot as Apocalypse Now. A group of Vietnam-era soldiers in an untamed jungle doggedly moving upriver and through more and more danger to a climax with a mad colonel. True, Apocalypse Now doesn’t have a giant ape, but it does have Marlon Brando, so I call that a tie.
  • The first action sequence with Kong vs the helicopters is awesome. You will love it.
  • John C. Reilly is hands down the most fun character in the film. If you know him from Adult Swim’s Check It Out, his character is about 60% Dr. Steve Brule. If that means nothing to you, go to YouTube right now. Seriously, go. I’ll wait for you.
  • Kong is all over this film. This isn’t like Godzilla where we had a few murky shots and were constantly waiting for the monster to show up again. 
  • The soundtrack is all 1970’s classic rock. Grace Slick! Black Sabbath! The Hollies! 

And here’s the bad. But it isn’t too bad. 

  • There were no dinosaurs. In every King Kong film, even the ones from Japan where he fights robots, he fights dinosaurs. And although I said above that the island is identical to the original, this is the one exception. No dinosaurs. Kong did fight a lot of reptilian skull crushers, but they looked more like those lame MUTOS Godzilla fought in his last American film than Dinosaurs. And while that makes sense since they are set in the same cinematic universe, it was a glaring omission. King Kong fights dinosaurs! (That will be rectified when King Kong vs. Godzilla comes out in a few years.) 

This is the real problem I had with the film: It had no heart. You didn’t root for Kong. There was no “humanity” in him as there was in every other version of the giant ape. This Kong is just gruff. And it is understandable since he is an orphan who spends his life fighting other monsters. But it doesn’t make you root for him. He protected the humans in this film but never seemed to like them or have any connection to any other human. The film tried to make up for that by giving one of the human characters a tear-jerker ending and it worked, if the intent was to make everyone leave the film feeling good, but it did nothing to make us like Kong. 

Like the original, the female lead ended up in the ape’s palm, but unlike the other versions this was a rescue and there was no connection between them. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Kong just dumped her back in the water. 

This was a fun film and a good action film. This may not be the Kong that you remember or the Kong that you want, but it works. You get your money’s worth. And since we already know that King Kong vs. Godzilla is going to be made, my geeky fanboy take on that after seeing both monsters in action, is Kong will easily take out Godzilla.

Just like Kirk would beat Picard in a fight.

Here’s Brie Larson in a tank top. Think I’d leave you hanging? That ought to sell some tickets. Tell ’em Mr. Blog sent you.

 

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Late Night Movie House: Zoolander 2

16 Feb

February 16, 2016

LNMHOC zoolander

In a recent review, Leonard Maltin explained that, for the first time in his career, he walked out of a movie he was intending to review. Unsurprisingly, that movie was Zoolander 2.

But as I embarked on the experience of watching Zoolander 2 at a press screening the other night, I had an immediate reaction of annoyance and impatience. The film was stupid right from the start. I told myself that I was wasting my time for no good reason.

Still, I stayed. Ten minutes passed, then twenty, filled with puerile and unfunny gags; along with gratuitous cameo appearances by everyone from Katy Perry to Willie Nelson. If even one of them had seemed clever I might have summoned some hope for the rest of the picture, but it was not to be.

Mind you, I thought the original Zoolander was pretty funny. I had no reason to expect this one to be so much worse. But it is.

Finally, after almost an hour, I strode out of the theater, proud of myself for taking positive action and sparing myself further insult.

But could Zoolander 2 really be that bad? Sure, it looks bad. And sure, everyone says it’s bad. And yes, the commercials all make it seem bad. But is it really bad? I sent some of the regulars from this blog to check it out and get their opinions.

It's the sequel no one wanted ten years too late

It’s the sequel no one wanted ten years too late

I can relate. I saw the original Zoolander in the theater when it first came out in 2001. I recall laughing here and there, but I also recall that the laughs became less and less as the film rolled on. It became less funny as it went on too, and more stupid. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that as the movie went on, I realized there was less to it than it seemed. It was just a generally stupid movie. I was feeling stupid for buying a ticket. I should have been warned by the presence of Will Ferrell, whose bad films and roles are slowly piling up higher than his good films and roles.

Let’s put Will Ferrell on the Mike Meyers scale.

meyers scale ferrell head

But aside from all that, I sat through the original Zoolander and every other film I’ve paid to see. Unlike Leonard Maltin, I never left a movie before it was over. But In retrospect, there were some films I wish I did walk out on.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. This was Oliver Stone at his worst, and that’s saying a lot. The film was close to three hours long and several people left after about an hour and a half. Unless you’ve seen it, you don’t understand the pain we felt in the theater.

STARSHIP TROOPERS. That movie wanted you to root for the Nazis. A lot of people say how great the novel is, and it is- I read it. But none of the satire or real meaning made it to the screen. It was simply disgusting Nazis fighting disgusting bugs. I was rooting for the projector to break.

BATMAN AND ROBIN. Do I need to explain this? To borrow a phrase from MST3K: “Deep Hurting.”

Honorable mentions- I did not walk out but others did.

BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. This was a found footage movie before people knew what that was. I saw it in a theater that was half full when it began, nearly empty when it ended. I enjoyed it but there was a lot of loud and rude complaining from almost everyone else throughout.

THE SOUTH PARK MOVIE. A lot of people brought their kids. Big mistake. They left very quickly, but as soon as I realized it was a foul-mouthed musical, I settled in and enjoyed the ride.

 

BONUS! ROGER EBERT’S REVIEW OF NORTH (the movie, not Kanye’s kid)

I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

Best review ever!

 

 

 

 

 

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