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Non-Review Review: Kong – Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island has an endearingly “pop” sensibility to it.

There are moments at which Kong: Skull Island feels more like an evocative theatrical-length montage than a film. This is only the second feature-length film from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and the movie has jarring and disorienting quality to it. Vogt-Roberts saturates the screen with reds and greens, whirls the camera at incredible velocity, and cuts at an impressive tempo. Even dialogue heavy scenes are constantly panning and cutting.

Sundown showdown.

This approach does no favours to the cast. Most of the players in Kong: Skull Island seem to have more trouble finding a consistent character throughline than mythical monsters. Tom Hiddleston seems quite lost for most of the film. Brie Larson probably does the best job of any of the major players, although the rapid-fire editing helps John C. Reilly seem suitably eccentric as the obligatory insane exposition character. Veteran performers like John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are forced to hold on for dear life.

However, none of this is a problem. For all its flaws, Kong: Skull Island never over-estimates how interesting its human characters are, mostly treating them as a vehicle to get to the promised monster mash. Vogt-Roberts’ direction might seem hyperactive and over-caffeinated, but it understands this. The camera and the cuts are always moving towards the monster, with the characters serving to deliver thematic dialogue and look suitably moody as seventies music plays over montage sequences.

“Oh, so that’s why they call it Skull Island.”

Kong: Skull Island never feels entirely cohesive as a feature film. That is not a fatal flaw. The movie feels weird and ethereal, the audience constantly kept off-balance by the heighten stylistic choices and the gusto with which the movie seizes upon these opportunities. After all, the eponymous island is a place where anything is possible and nothing is as it appears. It feels somewhat fitting that the movie drifts into a loose free-form style driven more by imagery than by story.

Kong: Skull Island feels in someways like a monstrous monster movie, and there’s something quite appealing in that.

No bones about it.

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Non-Review Review: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is like an extended visual sugar hit. There’s always something happening, the characters seem in perpetual motion, and there’s never a moment where the audience is allowed to catch up. A technicolour marvel, there’s an endearing energy to all this, allowing the plot’s riff on classic monster movies (from King Kong to Jurassic Park) to become infectiously enjoyable. There are moments where the movie almost seems too sweet and too insubstantial, but they are only fleeting – there’s another neat visual gag, corny pun, or exciting slapstick joke only ever seconds away.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is hardly food for the soul, but it’s certainly a satisfying meal.

A berry good idea...

A berry good idea…

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Black Island (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for The Black Island. There are probably multiple reasons for this. Snowy is my favourite member of the Tintin ensemble, and The Black Island is as close as possible to a Snowy-centric adventure. I also tend to enjoy the pulpier stories in Hergé’s series, the ones that have aged so well that they perfectly evoke the serialised fiction of the era without feeling trapped in it – stories like The Cigars of the Pharaoh, which is in series competition to be my favourite Tintin adventure. The Black Island is undoubtedly a product of the thirties, with the German counterfeiting ring in England and the homage to King Kong, but it never feels that old. In a way, the bright colours and wonderful depiction of rural England (and other stereotypical elements like the police constables) always made me think of the British pop culture of the sixties. I think that’s the appeal of the adventure to me, in a nutshell.

And most of it made it to this animated adaptation.

Something to think about...

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The Criterion Criteria: Why Are Criterion Blu Rays Region Coded?

The Criterion Collection is incredible – it really is the ideal back-catalogue for anybody who considers themselves a fan of good cinema well-presented. The company basically releases top-of-the-line DVD and blu ray collections of old and new films, each presented with the greatest of care, and with a wealth of special features, often including director’s cuts, in-depth documentaries, essays and other treasures. Hell, the company’s laser-disc division invented the notion of a “commentary”, producing one over their release of the classic King Kong. I am a fan, as I think that any cinephile is a fan. That said, I was shocked to read of a rather disturbing development: Criterionhave region-coded their blu ray releases. I understand the idea of region-coding, but this really seems like a strange case.

It's a monstrous injustice... (Godzilla, #594)

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Monkey Business: Could Andy Serkis Win An Oscar?

Okay, I think we all know the answer is “no.” I thought better than to try to pretend there was the slightest hint of even a nomination. However, considering some of the chatter around Serkis’ performance in the superb Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t help but wonder if the Academy will everrecognise motion-capture performances with acting nominations. After all, where does the line end between the performance of the actor, and the special effects work put in by the technical team?

Serkis folk...

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The Once and Future King (Kong)…

Wow, looks like those monster movie revivals show no signs of abating. King Kong is apparently next in line, getting the prequel treatment. There’s apparently an adaptation of a book Kong: King of Skull Island. It seems a rather quick revival for Kong, who seems to go through thirty-to-forty-year cycles of popularity.

Quit Monkeying Around...

Quit Monkeying Around...

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