Kong: Skull Island- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Set in the 70s during the Vietnam War, Kong: Skull Island follows a group of explorers including: ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), angry and vengeful colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and government official Bill Randa (John Goodman). They venture into an uncharted island only to find a giant (and I mean GIANT) ape named Kong, who’s king on the island, and numerous hostile and terrifying creatures.

How is it? 5.5/10                                                                                                                     Kong: Skull Island is fun, stylish, and looks great, but is severely lacking in the people department. It’s a decent popcorn B-movie where you get to see a giant ape beat up a giant lizard, but not much else. Oh, and don’t forget, they are always setting up for a sequel because this monster movie takes place in the same universe as Godzilla (2014)!

The Ups                                                                                                                                      I have to give this movie credit for its cinematography. The camera work is very stylish and lots of fun to look at, as well as the colors in this movie. It has a warm, tropical, 70s tropical hue, which is displayed excellently alongside the giant monkey.

Kong, as he appears in the movie. Credit: Warner Bros.

Its soundtrack is also cool, chock-full of 70s music that assist the tone of Kong.

Also, it doesn’t take itself too seriously: you came to see an ape smash things, and you get to see an ape smash things.

John C. Reilly is a standout character in Kong. He plays Hank Marlow, a WWII pilot stranded on the island since the 40s. His character steals the show, has clear motivations, gets a bunch of development, and has a surprisingly emotional payoff.

John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow. Credit: Warner Bros.

Kong himself, when on screen, is awesome. Watching him beat up other creatures on the island never gets old, and this movie in particular shows just how huge he is.

The other creatures on the island are cool as well. They provide for some great set-pieces, and are interesting and unique enough to keep you from getting bored. Also, seeing the creatures pick off the team members one by one is entertaining.

One of the “Skullcrawlers”, alongside Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson. Credit: Warner Bros.

Finally, the CGI is fantastic. The work on Kong, the creatures, and the island’s unique, tropical features is great: it’s super realistic, nice to look at, and gives you a sense of scale between the humans and the creatures.

Tom Hiddleston chopping monsters with a sword, which you didn’t realize you needed until you did. Credit: Warner Bros.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, here’s the main flaw with Kong: you’re shown a giant monkey, but then said giant monkey leaves, leaving you with a bunch of explorers you are given no reason to care about. These characters are paper-thin: Tom Hiddleston is tracker/mercenary/butt-kicker who works for money but…yeah that’s about it– you have no idea why he’s there; Brie Larson is an ANTI-WAR photographer, who really shouldn’t be coming on the mission; John Goodman is your typical off-his-rocker, been-waiting-years-for-this guy; Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson…this time, it got old; and finally, Toby Kebbell plays a soldier, who makes some significantly stupid decisions. This is a giant waste of a great cast. They even try humor with these people, but it really doesn’t work, and the vast majority of the jokes fall short.

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly. Credit: Warner Bros.

In addition, the first 25-30 minutes of exposition are pretty boring indeed, and there’s a bunch of cheesy dialogue throughout.

Lastly, the editing in the first half of the movie can be pretty choppy, and sometimes gets hard to look at.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island gives you a fun, stylish, and action-packed B-movie that has characters no one cares about nor wants to.

Logan- Movie Review

Hugh Jackman gives a performance of a lifetime in this action-packed, brutal, somber, and beautiful movie that’s a character study before superhero movie. Credit: 20th Century Fox

What is it about?                                                                                                                           Logan is the newest addition to the X-Men franchise, and is the story of an old, aging, Wolverine in a new, standalone, X-Men timeline. In 2029, a weary and hopeless Logan cares for dying telepathic Charles Xavier in a hideout on the Mexican border. All mutants have perished, and Logan is trying to escape somewhere safe with Charles. He soon finds a little girl named Laura Kinney, or X-23, with the same powers and deadliness as him, and is forced to (reluctantly) protect her from dark forces following them.

How is it? 8.9/10                                                                                                                               Logan is an amazing movie. However, I have to put A DISCLAIMER: Logan is Rated R, and contains SEVERE violence, gore, and language, as well as dark and mature themes. 

Logan marks Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s final performances as Wolverine and Charles Xavier, respectively, and is a very satisfying and fitting conclusion.

Logan and Charles Xavier side-by-side. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Ups:                                                                                                                                            The overall tone of Logan is great. It knows what it wants to be and is unrestricted: it can be dark, grim, and hopeless, but can also be warm, funny, and uplifting.

The acting is top-notch throughout the cast. Hugh Jackman is fantastic and perfectly portrays just how hopeless, tired, and dying Logan is. Patrick Stewart is great, as he shows Xavier off-his-rocker, guilty, and sad. Finally, newcomer Dafne Keen, who plays X-23 is my favorite performance, as she manages to kick butt, and give a heartfelt performance just through facial expressions. She awakens the hero in Logan, which brings out his better, younger self.

Dafne Keen as X-23 in Logan. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The action is brutal (I really can’t emphasize this enough), but executed spectacularly, and the cinematography and editing assists it. The score by Marco Beltrami was a small detail that I enjoyed, and it helped with the tone of the film.

Although I mentioned earlier that the movie could be grim, it still had humor from the dynamic between Laura and Logan, and even Xavier.

Logan in one of the quieter scenes, next to X-23 and Charles. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan never ceases to be enthralling and constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat, even when there isn’t a huge action sequence: many of the movie’s better moments are quiet, small interactions between the characters. Through these moments it manages to even bring emotion.

Logan during one of the more…vivid action sequences. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan explores many grim, sensitive themes that you want to talk about long after the credits have rolled. Through carefully exploring its characters, it delves into the ideas of death, aging, sadness, family, love, and even guilt. These really establish it as a drama first, and a comic-book movie second: it’s very grounded.

The Downs:                                                                                                                                   There are few problems I have with Logan. There is a minor pacing issue with this movie around the middle: sitting at a lengthy 2 hours and 21 minutes, there are certain scenes around the middle that could’ve been trimmed. However, the vast majority of Logan serves a point and all builds up to the finale.

It also slightly overuses it’s R-rating. Even though most of the violence is well-deserved and built up to, there are certain aspects where the gore was overused. Also, there was a subplot that serves a purpose, but goes over-the-top. I understand why it was kept, but it causes the movie to lose some of its grounding.

Logan is not only one of the best comic-book movies of recent years, but also one of, if not the most meaningful. However, discretion is advised, as the movie can get quite violent and gory.