Superficial plot and character development in “Kong: Skull Island”


As a reboot of the popular King Kong franchise, “Kong: Skull Island” adds a modern twist with improved visuals and new characters to a reused plotline. Similar themes from previous movies such as the foibles of human recklessness and concern for the environment still run rampant throughout the movie, but that’s about as deep as it gets. The impressive Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) seems to be the main attraction as it overshadows the shallow plotline and underdeveloped characters.

In the movie, the United States leads a secret military operation to the enigmatic Skull Island with tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). They bomb the island for scientific research and anger King Kong, a 50-foot monster gorilla who rules the island, who later kills all but a few of the soldiers in his rampage. Conrad and Weaver’s group meet the natives who worship Kong for his protection against the Skullcrawlers, terrifying reptilian creatures, and an American whose plane had crashed on the island years before, Hank Marlow (John Reilly). Meanwhile, the vengeful Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) seeks retribution for his fallen soldiers by setting up a fatal trap for Kong. The two sides conflict as they struggle to survive, whether it’s against the island’s plethora of nightmare-fuel creatures or against each other.

In contrast to the previous Kong movies, the female lead is the feisty, sensibly-dressed Weaver, a much different character than the scantily-clad damsel in distress. Both roles, however, still share the silent yet emotional connection with Kong that none of the men seem to understand. Similarly, viewers are shown the two sides of Kong: the aggressive, violent killer and the gentle, intelligent creature. The rest of the characters, however, seem to fit into a predictable and stereotypical mold. For example, other than serving as Weaver’s rugged love interest, Conrad seemed completely unnecessary and did little to advance the plot. If Conrad was removed, most of the movie would remain untouched. Another example is Marlow, the crazy old man who no one took seriously until it was too late. Sure, this movie is an action movie, but a little character development wouldn’t hurt.

Left and right, when it wasn’t expected and even when it was, the monsters that plagued the island are ceaselessly thrown at the actors. Ranging from a harmless creature that is about five times the size of a regular buffalo to the alpha Skullcrawler, the monsters are well-designed and unique from the ones in previous adaptations. Just like its characters, however, the plot is predictable and clearly not well thought-out. In an age when CGI quality tends to be the main thing holding up a movie’s quality, this one is no exception. But it definitely is not something that should be overlooked. As an action movie, the 3D addition and amazing graphics reveals the dangerous yet captivating beauty of Skull Island.

Overall, the artificial aspects of what defines a good movie are fulfilled. The visuals are undeniably stunning and the music soundtrack suspense-filled. But if one is looking for heartfelt moments and complex characters, this movie will not meet those expectations. If looking for an action-packed scenes, however, “Kong: Skull Island” becomes an exciting, enjoyable film.

By Angela Cao, Longform editor

Photo courtesy of imdb.com

The Breakdown

Plot Development
Musical Score
Character Development `

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