The Films of Jordan Vogt-Roberts
The Kings of Summer
Nick Offerman: American Ham
Kong: Skull Island (April 19/17)
An especially awful Hollywood blockbuster, Kong: Skull Island follows a team of soldiers and scientists as they arrive at the title locale intending to map it out for official use – though it’s not long before the group is attacked by a number of deadly creatures. Filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts delivers a generic and excessively slick opening stretch that immediately sets the viewer on edge, as Kong: Skull Island, which seems to have emerged directly from a template for movies of this ilk, suffers from an almost total lack of personality that extends to its many, many attributes – with the film’s talented cast, for the most part, forced into the confines of one-dimensional, run-of-the-mill characters. (John C. Reilly, playing an off-the-wall recluse, turns in an oddball and consistently entertaining turn that stands as the sole exception to this.) The movie’s transformation from mediocre to unwatchable, then, arrives with its first big action sequence, as Vogt-Roberts employs a frenetic and over-the-top sensibility that would seem excessive in a videogame cut scene – with the total lack of thrills (and coherence) that ensues setting a tone of abject incompetence that persists right up through to the equally ineffective climax. Kong: Skull Island’s failure is especially disappointing given that it remains rather obvious that scripters Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly have been heavily inspired by Jurassic Park, but, as becomes increasingly clear, the movie simply doesn’t possess the wonder and excitement of that seminal Spielberg success (ie it all just feels so cynical and mechanical). Adding insult to injury is a narrative that does, for the most part, feel like it’s spinning its wheels, with this pervasive absence of momentum paving the way for an interminable second half that lurches from one poorly-conceived and entirely tedious set piece to the next – with the expectedly underwhelming finale only cementing Kong: Skull Island’s place as a wholly pointless exercise in big-budget filmmaking.