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Kong Skull Island Review (2017) | Solely Fuelled by Visuals and Theatrics

Every era has its Kong. Following that dictum comes our very own version of it, but Kong Skull Island comes nowhere close to what Peter Jackson had managed to accomplish in the year 2005. It was an epic film, brimming with emotions, and unpredictable action. Timeless, that can never be forgotten. Au contraire, Kong Skull Island is quite the opposite when it comes to story building. You feel it rushing towards the action front, banks on only visuals and theatrics to wade through and even though it manages to be something, it ends up becoming nothing but an adrenaline shot that fades away the moment you leave the theatres.

Kong Diaries: The Primal Theme

Kong Skull Island rushes in without a good story to balance it properly on rails of sobriety. It is storming off at a huge pace to meet the action part just so we reach the fruition Legendary expects of it. Kong Skull Island is definitely going somewhere, and we know where (to defy Godzilla openly in the future releases) but you could read that desperation in it, and that’s what makes it highly ambitious. In that skittish attempt to reach an end, it decimates our age-old superhero into nothing but an ass whopping monster. But it is so much more. You know it, I know it, and everybody who has ever seen King Kong on the big screen before is well aware of it.

If you take a look at the action part, it has been brilliantly depicted. It’s what you expect a good action movie to pack in. But the frail storyline forces you to squelch your way towards all the action. What’s that, you ask? Well read on to find out.

still of kong from kong skull island movie

Plot of Kong Skull Island (Spoilers Ahead)

As the title gives away, the flick wasn’t meant to be shot at home ground (just yet). So it was naturally the Kong Land where all the action was supposed to happen.

Enters Bill Randa played by John Goodman trying to convince senator Willis to get them to a wretched ill-fated island that’s also shaped like a skull. He has Houston Brooks done by Corey Hawkins by his side who successfully convinces Willis to pursue their mission on the grounds of “something fishy going on there”, and that the unexplored could house hidden treasures which their country should be the first to exploit.

Slapped on a mission that could use some adroit help, they pay up Captain James Conrad played by Tom Hiddleston good to accompany them in their adventure. They manage the escort Sky Devils, which is a helicopter squadron headed by Preston Packard (who else but our very own Samuel L. Jackson).

Mason Weaver played by Brie Larson who is a pacifist photojournalist joins them after, and their little family thus feels complete.

A camera does a lot more damage than a gun.

The Skull Island

They storm into a storm, the only thing stopping them from seeing what’s hidden, as Preston delivers a confident speech on how their choppers are capable of going anywhere come what may. On reaching there, the seismologist Houston Brooks begins his science experiment by dropping bombs to check if the ground is hollow. That’s when they encounter a flying tree that takes one of the choppers down.

Is that a monkey?

Amidst theatrics and slo-mo enters the king, the one and only Kong. Drums please!

He delivers his fury on the remaining flyers, as they crash and split into two groups. Their last hope is to escape the island by visiting the resupply team at the northern end in three days. But to Packard, for whom everything is personal, (he has, by the way, looked into the eyes of Kong after all) slaying the monster is somehow of paramount importance. Bill Randa spills the beans to a gunpoint saying his real motive was to prove to the world that monsters exist, and that they are waiting for their chance to re-claim earth.

Skullcrawlers

The rest of the flick tries to bring us up to speed to the real monsters, Skullcrawlers thus showing Kong as a Good Samaritan, the king of the Island who is willing to do whatever it takes to help creatures in need. We meet Hank Marlow played by John C. Reilly a crazy American pilot who had crash-landed on the Island in the 40s.

I guess no man comes home from war, not really.

He tells them about the local natives Iwi, who had built walls to keep Skullcrawlers at bay. They used to worship Kong, the only God they had ever come across, who took care of anything that threatened their existence.

Marlow also tells them about “The Big One” preparing us for an imminent Boss fight of course. He tells them the Big Skullcrawler could have awakened if those bomb shenanigans were not stopped by Kong.

Forbidden Zone

In hopes to find another one of their members, the team ends up reaching the Forbidden Zone, where Kong’s parents had once fought Skullcrawlers ages ago. They are attacked by a Skullcrawler there, with a lot of deliberate theatrics to give you the feels of how tough defeating a Skullcrawler really is.

still of tom hiddleston and brie larson in kong skull island movie

A vengeful Packard with hopes to lay the simian down uses all the seismic bombs to trigger multiple explosions luring Kong into a trap.

It’s time to show Kong that man is king!

After bringing Kong down to his knees, he is busy preparing charges to blow up the beast, when Conrad intervenes to stop him. Owing to all that kabooms, “The Big One” aka “Ramarak” appears from the ground decimating everything and everyone that came in its way.

Kong tries to fight it off but fails in Round One. But in the final stand-off theatrically rips the monster’s guts out scoring one for Team Kong.

When the remaining people are trying to escape the Island, we find a furious Kong eyeing resupply choppers that are coming to help the stranded.

When the curtain drops, we find Hank Marlow reuniting with his family. There’s also one post credit scene in the movie that makes an allusion on the presence of other monsters on our planet. Cave paintings depict images of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, other monsters that Legendary had painted and will paint on the big screen in their upcoming releases.

You can order Kong Skull Island here:

Theatrical Hoot

Visuals of Kong Skull Island are pretty great. For a film that is literally thriving on it and being driven by it, I think its one of those crucial factors that the producers spent on plenty.

Toby Kebbell‘s Kong even though easily identifiable looks pretty badass on screen. The 100 foot tall simian is beastly and angry. It almost becomes successful in filling the shoes of what Andy Serkis had left us with. Pretty hard to beat, huh?

At times the screenplay becomes pretty good too. It keeps on delivering us lines that make you ponder.

Hank Marlow: Who’s winning the war?

James Conrad: Which one?

Hank Marlow: That makes sense.

Other Major Issues

Apart from the cardinal issue of not banking on a befitting story for us to feast on, Kong Skull Island doesn’t retain focus. Its nimble frames spoil your mood, and in that ambitious subtlety of Jordan Vogt-Roberts it becomes nothing but a fast forwarded wrestling match. It only stops, whenever it stops, to display a rad chopper shot in slo-mo or an angle that Jordan deemed necessary somehow to shoot because in his head it must have mattered beyond limit.

ramarak skullcrawler the big one in kong skull island

I think Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston were nothing but wasted talents in a flick that only cared about theatrics. There’s no fitting stop, pause or breathe-moment where you get to actually see and feel for its characters.

They shouldn’t have agreed to do this flick in the first place. Whilst Tom’s shoes were easy to feel, anyone could have done what he did back there, Brie seems out of place too. She ends up becoming nothing but an irritating selfie woman who has to take photographs no matter how fatal the situation appears to be.

Death happens in a jiffy, without giving you time to experience grief. It’s been written like a glib with dispensable characters.

The Final Verdict

If you are planning to put Kong Skull Island up for comparison against the previous one, just a request – simply don’t! The movie doesn’t retain even an ounce of gravitas. It is merely for visual and theatrics, and to thrill you with its fight scenes, and to of course pave way for future sequels.

Legendary is obsessed with their monsters. They were promising us a monster hopscotch, and so we are going to get one. Just be patient. I think it must be around the corner.

You can watch the trailer of Kong Skull Island here:

 

A Monster Calls Movie Review (2016) | Battling Your Inner Monsters

A Monster Calls is a dramatic stunner. It squirms your insides when you try to empathize with its protagonist, one hell of a child actor, Lewis MacDougall. Its evident story happens between its lines, as it takes refuge of a child’s fancy to expound some of life’s biggest lessons – expressing yourself as you are, accepting a pitfall and coming to terms with it.

The movie is based on an enthralling book of the same name by Patrick Ness that actually originated from an idea by Siobhan Dowd.

Cardinal Theme of A Monster Calls

There are two facades to the human brain. The one, that is the sane one, says things that you really mean. Then there is the other one, your daft side that keeps interposing and writing off decisions laid down by the first.  It is a constant battle between them that affects your choices, that plays your mood to its tune. This might sound crazy to a grown up who has the reins of his brains well sought and unknotted, who is often not vexed by his choices. (That’s too rare again!) But to a child whose thoughts run rampant, it is simply huge.

The negative and the positive thoughts that keep curdling inside you wage wars trying to cloud what you really wanna do or say. And that’s where the movie’s true theme resides. In those hollows of vexation!

image of felicity jones as mum and Lewis MacDougall as Conor in a monster calls movie

What you really mean, the purest form of it all comes when you are feeling a true uninfluenced feel. The movie tries to bring its protagonist to terms with his actual pious veracity, and it only concludes when its job gets done.

J. A. Bayona’s Engaging Direction

It’s official! There’s no director better than J. A. Bayona who could successfully unsheathe qualm and disquiet from a child and then present it in the most beautiful way possible. We saw that happen in the havocking nature pillage The Impossible in 2012 when he made us cry tears of rekindling joy, and of course in the stunning 2007 horror The Orphanage, which was Bayona’s debut film.

To bring out the natural flair of Lewis’ acting prowess Bayona brims up his life with ample loner shots before bringing the Monster in. His direction is so pleasantly lucid that you find yourself reading a child’s thoughts on the go. It has proper focus to dribble emotions right into your hearts.

A Monster Calls walks in with three, nay four, extraordinary stories with hidden meanings and messages. All of them are beautifully done with outstanding CGI. The Monster appears very real too.

Plot of A Monster Calls Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

To begin with the prologue we find Conor (Lewis) staring at a tree. He is constantly miffed by a nerve-racking dream. In it he finds his mother portrayed by Felicity Jones caving in to an annihilating earthquake. It swallows her up, leaving him helpless and stranded in the process. We find him leaving for school, preparing his own breakfast, dressing himself up for school, in short, taking care of himself. His mother is sick, and it is up to him to look after himself. With that you can almost see how Conor’s nightmare is perfectly poetic and in line with his biggest fears.

He summons up a monster voiced brilliantly by Liam Neeson who presses on telling him three stories for extricating Conor’s nightmare. All of these stories are strewn across the movie and in context with things happening with his life. The tree monster claims that since it was itself the common element in every tale, it knew very well what went on in those tales.

Three Stories of Tree Monster

The first story is about a kingdom that was miffed by vile creatures. A king loses all his sons except one to them, who grows up to become a warrior. Before he comes of age however, the king marries a beautiful young woman. Soon the king dies and the world believes that it was her who had poisoned the king. To keep the reins of the kingdom in her hands, she plots to marry the prince. However, the prince runs away with a farm girl who he was supposedly in love with. They stop to rest under a tree (the monster).

On waking up, he finds the farm girl murdered. Declaring that it was the queen who had murdered her and convincing fellow farmers of it, he wages war against her along with them. The tree monster awakes and joins the attacking mob, however the monster saves the queen in the process carrying her to a far away land. The reason the tree monster saves the queen is because it saw the prince killing the farm girl to snatch the throne wrongfully.

The above story reflects the life of Conor as well, when we are introduced to his grandmother whom he abhors profusely.

Second Story of Apothecary and Parson

The second crucial story is the one that deals with an apothecary, a guy who is inclined to treat diseases and ailments using conventional methodologies. Fighting him off is a new world parson who discourages everybody from going to apothecary for treatment. He stops the parson from cutting down a healing tree (the monster tree) that could have allowed him to cure any disease in the world.

However, one day Parson’s two daughters become really sick and all his attempts to cure them goes in vain. When nothing works he finally falls down to his knees seeking apothecary for his help. The apothecary refuses him when he finds out that the parson is ready to sell his faith and whatever he stood for, just for the sake of saving his own daughters.

The tree monster surprisingly awakens to decimate the parson’s house even though clearly apothecary seemed at fault for not helping the parson. The monster believed that if the parson hadn’t been so selfish in the first place, he would have been able to save both his daughters by allowing the apothecary to cut him down. He wasn’t staying true to himself by deteriorating from his path, and so he needed to be punished for it.

In the real world, Conor destroys Grandma’s house believing it to be Parson’s. When his grandma finds it, she doesn’t punish him for it, since she considers it a mere ripple against what’s imminent.

The Third Story of Invisibility

The third story was supposed to be about a boy being invisible. It actually happens when Conor is tired of being invisible. When everyone (including his mother) keeps treating him as if there was nothing wrong with his mother, as if he did not deserve to know what was befalling her. The fact that he already knew that his mother had cancer made it even sadder. On being bullied once again, he breaks all hell loose on his predator, by calling up the monster and beating the hell out of him.

As an aftermath, he finds the whole world looking at him, of him becoming visible, of everybody knowing about him, of the principal acknowledging his presence.

You can order A Monster Calls Movie from here:


The Fourth Story: Conor’s Nightmare

As mentioned before there were actually four stories, the fourth one being Conor’s acknowledgment of his biggest nightmares. It is summoned by the monster actually that recreates the exact setup Conor used to imagine, and re-imagine as his nightmare. His biggest nightmare, however, wasn’t letting his mum fall into the maws of abyss, but was that he wished it all to get over. Like an innocent brain wishing a thing and phase to pass, he had secretly wished for his mother to die. It killed him, wondering if he had unknowingly brought that fate upon her. The second sane sacred brain of his that hadn’t had the chance to accept the unacceptable finally gets a shot at understanding the impending disaster, when he is pushed on by the monster to actually feel the pain. The unstoppable cancer then does its job.

You see in all the above stories, the common element was always the tree monster. Even though Conor accepted its existence as a mere fancy, he used it to justify all of his acts. In the end, we get to know through the artistic portrayals of his mother’s drawings that the monster, and all the characters of his story were actually figments of his mother’s imagination, that she had once used to narrate him stories of.

image of conor sleeping under the tree monster in a monster calls

Amazing Parts

One of the best lines from the movie is when Conor’s mum understands. She says that she knows and fathoms everything that went inside the head of Conor. In one of the frames, she is shown actually nodding to the monster who by the way doesn’t exist. But is in a way suggestive of how mum comprehended everything that the little lad went through.

It is hard not to marvel at the magnificent water color paintings in the movie. The fact its paintings were created as a result of blowing water paint on the paper made it appear even more gorgeous. The CGI is absolutely ravishing too. Stories are brilliantly played out giving the story its innate perspective.

The most destructive scenes from A Monster Calls is, I believe, is when Conor tries to reason with her mother why the tree monster couldn’t save her, when it was supposed to? It’s hard to stop your tears of dam from breaking then. Also, when he runs wild on finding out that her death was inexorable.

The Final Verdict

A Monster Calls is an absolute wonder. It is a movie that fits the shoes of the actual book just fine. To help it achieve that is of course Lewis MacDougall’s brilliant acting, and Liam Neeson’s grave voice, and also the movie’s exceptional CGI. Transitions that go on inside the frames of all the stories are simply awe-inspiring as well.

Drama of the movie is simply top-notch. I would recommend this movie to everyone.

You can check out the trailer of A Monster Calls Movie here: