Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On Kong: Skull Island

  • Why do I do these things to myself?
  • Three minutes in, Enthusiasts, I knew I should turn this shit off.
  • Wait, no: ten minutes.
  • I missed the first seven minutes of the movie because I was making food or pooping or standing in the hallway confused; one of those things.
  • There is no dialogue in Skull: Kong Island.
  • There is expositioning.
  • Yelling.
  • And then, in the third act, there is direct explicating of the subtext by Samuel L. Jackson.
  • (Samuel L. Jackson yells while explicating, obviously.)
  • The first few scenes are characters stating basic facts that the people they’re speaking to should know.
  • “We’re going to meet the Senator now.”
  • “Yeah, I know. We drove over together.”
  • “This meeting about monsters is very important.”
  • “Who are you talking to?”
  • And so on.
  • I don’t want to nitpick so early, so: this movie could have been the greatest ever made.
  • Monster movie meets Vietnam movie.
  • Viet Kong.
  • (I made that joke before, but I don’t care.)
  • Y’know what else was a monster movie/’Nam movie?
  • Aliens.
  • Which was pretty decent.
  • Partially for its look, but mostly of the characters: fully-sketched human beings (and an android) that you identify with and root for (or boo, in the case of Gorman and Burke).
  • Ripley and Newt and Vasquez and Bishop and Hudson and Hicks and that mean old Sergeant.
  • And Hudson.
  • Aww.
  • The characters in Island: Skull Kong are as follows:
    • John Goodman as Sweaty Man With Secret.
    • Samuel L. Jackson as Yelling Gun Man.
    • Loki as Pretty Gun Man.
    • Brie Larson as Woman Who Looks Up.
    • John C. Reilly as Dennis Hopper
  • There’s a lot of Apocalypse Now in this sucker; directors need to stop strapping speakers to the sides of helicopters: it has lost its novelty.
  • So, there’s Skull Island and no one’s ever heard of it or been there, but America needs to get to it before the Russians do and Communism sets in; a half-cocked paper-pusher and a war-crazed lunatic launch an operation based on lies and rumor; the very first thing they do is begin carpet-bombing the island.
  • Are you getting the metaphor yet?
  • Bomb bomb bomb, and then King Kong jumps up and starts throwing helicopters into mountains; the helicopters respond to this by remaining at all times within his reach.
  • “Shouldn’t we back up and shoot him with our cannons, Captain?”
  • “Nah, I’m going in closer. Gonna try to cut his nose off with the rotor.”
  • “Please don’t.”
  • “I’m gonna.”
  • And so on.
  • All the helicopters crash and everyone dies except for the leads.
  • Woman Who Looks Up looks up.
  • She and her tank top have survived the crash unscathed.
  • And so she looks up.
  • (You think I’m kidding: her job in the film is photographer. All photographers do is look at stuff and make a note of the looking. Plus, she talks her way into the mission by saying she was “embedded” with so-and-so, which was not a term that existed in Vietnam, and is just one example of this movie’s utter disregard for its very premise. Everyone’s haircuts are wrong, and the uniforms are all off, and one of the soldiers plays with his phone in the background of several shots: it’s a mess.)
  • The survivors have landed in two groups, and now they have to reunite while braving deadly terrain before they can go home.
  • Observant readers will note that that is the plot of Armageddon.
  • Yelling Gun Man and Sweaty Man With Secret are in one place, and they want to kill King Kong.
  • Pretty Gun Man and Woman Who Looks Up are in the other, and they’re like, “Noooo, he’s nice.”
  • I don’t know who decided Tom Hiddleston could be an action hero, but that person should have to go out to the track and run laps.
  • Whatever: PGM and Woman run into Dennis Hopper, who crashed there during World War II and lives with the natives.
  • Then a bunch of bullshit happens: monster fights and giant spiders and John Goodman gets eaten; the plot of this movie is not the point of this movie.
  • The point is monkey-fightin’.
  • And there is some damn good monkey-fightin’ in this flick, Enthusiasts: the CG is damn-near perfect, and Kong beats the shit out of every mutant lizard and whatnot he sees.
  • But.
  • Kong is now, roughly, a million billion feet tall.
  • This is not your daddy’s monkey.
  • They scaled him up so he can fight Godzilla in a movie next year, and now he’s so large that the ratio of him to us is around the same as humans to ants.
  • Kong used to be 30 feet or so, and so the relationship was more of a human to a smallish dog.
  • You can read a dog’s facial expressions, body language, etc.
  • Not an ant, though.
  • How does King Kong know which white lady to fall in love with if we’re so tiny to him?
  • This movie about a secret island full of giant monsters makes no sense, dammit.
  • If you watch Isla de Kongidad and want to have some fun in between monkey-fightin’, count how often the sun rises and sets; they’re supposed to be on the island for three days, and the sumbitch goes up and down 19 times.
  • When there hadn’t been any action for a few minutes, the heroes would be attacked by pterodactyls; the birdmonsters would pick off one member of the party with the greatest of ease, and then they’d just fly away.
  • That’s not how animals work.
  • (Is that nitpicking? I figure nitpicking is being the jackass that starts explaining how doubling something’s size cubes its mass and therefore a giant monkey harbledarble. Or, “Where does the food a gorilla the size of a suspension bridge need come from?” Those are nitpicks.)
  • Anyway: good monkey-fightin’, bad everything else.


  1. Yeah, I’m the king of nitpicking movies.
    In the opening scene the pilot comes floating easily down to Earth, landing softly on his feet as his parachute collapses somewhere it the distance. That is NOT how military parachutes work; they’re designed to get you down as fast as possible without killing you. Had Alexander Payne directed this movie, John C. Rielly would have slammed hard into the ground and then been dragged several dozen feet by his still inflated parachute, sand getting into every possible opening in his clothing. Only by tugging on his risers and the wind letting up a bit would he finally come to a stop.
    This was strike one for me against the movie. My son pointed out that I was probably the only person in the theater who had a problem with this scene. But had they got the little things right it could have been a good movie. I don’t often say this, but I was really impressed with the special effects on the big screen. No doubt the movie isn’t nearly as impressive on the small screen.

    • i laughed… i cried… I kissed 5 bucks goodbye!!! had good potential but i also had to nitpick… every time they fired a flare gun instantly they reunited with whomever they was seeking. hopefully dead co. tour will be more satisfying. let Oteil sing!!!!

  2. In the first, and actually only, King Kong movie I’ve seen, therefore the bestest. King Kong actually appears smaller when first seen on the island. A matter of scary scale as you say. Later when brought to New York a new model was made , much bigger cause the director thought it would be better.

  3. hugh.c.mcbride

    May 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    “Good monkey-fightin’, bad everything else.”

    Mickey’s ill-advised decision to bring out seven baboons with bongos during the drum solos on the 1995 tour was unfortunate for many reasons – but at least it led to one of the most memorable single-sentence reviews in the history of the New York Times.

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