Hollywood blockbusters come and go, but every once in a while there is a massive action flick that truly makes a mark in cinema. There are plenty of reasons to believe why “Kong: Skull Island” made its mark at the multiplex as the next big thing in Hollywood blockbusters.
Often the issue with modern blockbusters is that the recipe is never precise. Making a giant action film is often like baking a cake: if even one ingredient is off, the entire dish is a horrendous mess. The new Kong adventure takes advantage of every single ingredient and doesn’t under or overplay a single note.
In modern cinema, one of the biggest missteps is an overuse of computer graphics. They certainly have their place in blockbusters, bus overdoing them can often take an audience out of the environment of the picture. The decision to shoot on location at exotic environments such as Vietnam and Hawaii ended up becoming a vital factor in this film’s success. The landscapes in the movie are absolutely incredible and help the audience truly escape , which is the ultimate goal of any major adventure film.
If you look at some of the most successful monster blockbusters of all-time, we pay to see the monsters but we stay for the human characters. “Skull Island” takes some older character types, but they freshen them up enough to where we can not only relate to them, but also invest in their fate as if we know them personally. The two most captivating characters are war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and stranded World War II veteran Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly).
Weaver and Marlow are not only relatable characters, but they help communicate some of the larger themes of the picture. With Weaver, labelling herself as an “anti-war photographer” we are exposed to the victims of war. She is confronted with the idea that cameras are often more dangerous than guns. Her idea that it’s not the camera that does the harm, but instead the actual people inside the frame, is a notion that translate incredibly well to today.
John C. Reilly’s involvement in the film is one that leads you to believe that he will generally just be the classic “comedic relief” in a monster flick. However, instead of coming off as Jar Jar Binks, he transcends to reminiscence of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcom in “Jurrasic Park.” He is not just a placeholder. He brings some light-hearted moments to the picture, but also pushes the sentimental values of the story. Marlow was stranded on Skull Island during World War II and has developed a connection with the island’s people and their history. Instead of developing a hatred for King Kong and the island, he instead approaches it with understanding.
The driving force of the film ceases being about the safety or destruction of a giant beast, but instead becomes about wanting happiness and success for its central human characters.
Obviously, the action is always the selling point of any blockbuster. It delivers in “Skull Island.” It doesn’t overwhelm us, but it doesn’t leave us wanting either. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and often sighing with relief at the culmination of each respective sequence. Each piece of action is an expertly-calculated scene as well; there are no cheap moments. It’s not about the fireworks themselves, but the lighting of the match building up to the explosion.
This is a film that will really connect with all audiences. General movie-goers will enjoy it’s action and light-hearted comedic moments, while cinephiles will fall in love with the atmosphere and connect with its themes of empathy and nature. All audiences will develop feelings for the characters and be pulling for or rooting against them from start to finish– an essential ingredient for a successful American blockbuster.