Tag Archives: creature

Kong: Skull Island – Review

13 Mar

I love monster movies. Like I really, really love monster movies, so the fact that Legendary is giving us a whole universe dedicated to giant monster brawls is almost too exciting. The first film in the MonsterVerse, Godzilla, came out in 2014, and despite some mixed reviews, I thought it was pretty badass. It did have some flaws, but when it got down to the monster mayhem, it really knew what it was doing. Now we have the second film, Kong: Skull Island, which introduces King Kong and the island to the universe. This beloved ape has been around since 1933, and it’s awesome to see that he has no intentions of giving up his big screen glory. This film is excessive, yes, but it’s also an extremely entertaining and action packed thrill ride.

William Randa (John Goodman) is a government official who has all the proof he needs to lead an expedition to an undiscovered island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Skill Island. After fighting for approval, he finally gets the go ahead and begins assembling his team. His first order of business is to find a tracker, which he finds with James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former SAS captain that served in the Vietnam War. He also recruits the help of Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his regiment, the Sky Devils, as a military escort. Photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) also joins the expedition with hopes of uncovering some unknown government conspiracy. When the group finally gets to the island, it doesn’t take long for the protector of the realm, a 100 foot tall ape named Kong, to show up and defend his land. This attack splits the group in two, which forces them to work together and keep their eyes peeled for Kong and the other horrors that wait for them on the island.

I had such a blast with Kong: Skull Island, that I’m still getting excited thinking back on it. It’s exactly what I wanted from this movie, and based on what some other critics were saying, I was kind of worried I was going to be let down. One thing that’s worth noting that can be seen as a negative are some of the characters. Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard and John C. Reily’s Hank Marlow are two examples of well thought out and fully realized characters. I understand their motivations and they stand out amongst the rest. There are other side characters that also have large personalities that make them memorable, but there’s no real development with any of them. Tome Hiddleston and Brie Larson, however, seem to hardly be in character at all. They’re just the stereotypical heroes you would expect to see in this movie. They try to add a little back story to them, but that exposition doesn’t really help at all. They’re just there to save the day, and that’s about it.

The original King Kong has one of the most classic stories in the history of film, and no sequel or remake since then has been able to capture that same essence and feeling. Kong: Skull Island doesn’t even try, and it’s all the better for it. Sure, it has the same kind of set up with the characters being introduced and sailing to the island, and there are natives which are to be expected on Skull Island, but that’s where the similarities end. The story of this movie pretty much revolves around Hiddleston and company trying to stay alive and get to the rendezvous point on the other side of the island. This is really all I needed, but there’s a cool subplot added in with Jackson’s character that raises the stakes even more. I was so thrilled to see this movie not get bogged down in trying to be something more than it is. The plot was there to drive the movie forward, but it wasn’t so stale and uninteresting that I lost track of what I was really watching. This keeps the pace fast with the action always moving forward. It’s cool to say that I was never once bored watching this movie.

Let’s talk about the man of the hour though. Toby Kebbel is tasked with being a side character soldier, but also was the motion capture actor for Kong. This seems appropriate since he did the motion capture for Koba in the new Planet of the Apes movies. He really brings Kong to life in this movie, which is awesome, and the physicality of the role is not to be forgotten. Kong has major throw downs in this movie that will force any viewer to go into popcorn munching overdrive. This is where the movie really shines, and I appreciate the visuals that add to the excessiveness that I mentioned I loved so much. Sure, the close ups and the crazy compositions of Kong back lit by the sun may seem cheesy, but they’re really just too cool to look at, and provided some of my favorite parts of the movie.

Is Kong: Skull Island going to match the classic status that Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack did with the original back in 1933? Of course not, but it does add a fulfilling new chapter to the MonsterVerse, and also was just a highly entertaining film. Once the characters get to the island, the action very rarely slows down and I found myself getting lost in the visuals of the island and the monster brawls that seemed larger than life happening before my very eyes. This isn’t a movie about characters nor does it have any important lessons to teach the viewer. This is about giant monsters throwing down for a couple of hours. In that way, it did not disappoint.

Final Grade: B+

Piranha – Review

26 Jul

Isn’t it great to put a movie on with an intriguing narrative that features complex characters, whose stories mirror real world issues and offer an intellectual social commentary? That’s a great thing, but then there are days where all I want it to see a trashy, gory, stupid movie that is good for outrageous laughs and no thought. That is exactly what Piranha offers.

It’s spring break once again in Lake Victoria, Arizona. A time when unruly college students get drunk, have sex, and dance like idiots. It’s also the most profitable time for this small town. This year, however, unexpected guests arrive in the form of prehistoric piranhas that were released from an underwater cave after an earthquake. Now, a group of friends and strangers must band together in order to save themselves and whatever students, while trying to find a way to destroy the piranhas.

This movie is absolute ludicrous and almost beyond a traditional review. I really have no room to talk about acting, writing, or cinematography since that’s not what this movie is about. Instead, it would be more appropriate to discuss how much fun I had watching it and what about the ridiculous plot points and happenings that worked well or not at all.

Piranha is certainly not made for the faint of heart. Along with Braindead, this is one of the goriest movies that I have ever seen. I’m not a huge fan of seeing the blood spray and gore being CGI, which is not uncommon nowadays, so it was refreshing to see the blood and gore effects to be mostly make up and prosthetics, with the exception of some green screen trickery. If you happen to have this on DVD, I would highly recommend watching the behind the scenes for the make up department. It’s very interesting if you’re interested in that type of thing.

Watching this movie in my living room only made me wish that I could’ve watched it in theaters with the 3D. There are a few scenes in particular that would have been a laugh out loud moment if only I’d seen it in 3D. Don’t get me wrong, the jokes rarely fall flat, but the cheesy extra dimension would have added to the mood.

Piranha is an absolutely ridiculous movie. There will be people who will argue that this movie is terrible, and that’s like your opinion, man. My personal opinion is that it is a worthy homage to the shlockey trash horror that was popular in the 1970s (this movie is actually a remake of a 1978 trash film that was a total knockoff of Jaws). If you like movies that don’t take themselves too seriously or you just want to have a good laugh at some over the top horror and gore, than check out Piranha. You’re guaranteed an equal amount of laughs and squirms.