Kong: Skull Island (Review)

Kong: Skull Island (Review)

Kong: Skull Island is the second movie of planned Monsterverse franchise because every movie has to be a franchise now.  Unlike other would be movie franchises, this one isn’t half bad.

I love Godzilla, both the American reboot and the monster.  It was because of that love that I saw Kong: Skull Island, since at some point in the future, they’re supposed to duke it out in a glorious fight for the ages.  I probably shouldn’t have gone in with that mindset because these two movies couldn’t be more different.

Whereas Godzilla was a dark and gritty monster movie set in the modern day, Kong: Skull Island is a movie set in the 70s or at least, a version of the 70s that’s been greatly exaggerated to the point of near parody.  This film is more of an adventure film right down to a handsome, rugged man who must save their lives while trapped on the island.  I say man because I honestly don’t know any of their names.

There are multiple characters throughout this film but they’re all very shallow characters.  What you see is what you get from these people.  You never learn anything deeper about them because you’re not really supposed to.  There’s just a group of people trapped on an island with a giant ape.  And I was perfectly okay with that.

This movie does not take itself seriously at all, it is simply a movie meant to entertain the audience, which is exactly what monster movies were supposed to do.  Sure, there is always room to tell a deep and meaningful movie, but I’m not gonna fault a monster movie for being stupid.  This film is stupid but in the fun perfect way.  It’s a film that knows what it’s trying to do and it does it very well.  And I had a good time with it.

WarCraft (Film Review)

WarCraft (Film Review)

Directed by Duncan Jones and based on the bestselling video game series from Blizzard Entertainment, WarCraft is the action fantasy movie that tells the story of the beginning of the war between the Humans of Azeroth and the Orcish Horde.  It stars Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Ben Schnetzer as members of the humans and Toby Kebbell, Robert Kazinsky, and Daniel Wu as members of the Orcs with Paula Patton playing the half-human, half-orc outcast.

This is…an interesting movie to say the least.  I have long been a fan of Blizzard Entertainment, though I have to say StarCraft’s sci-fi setting appealed to me more.  I didn’t even play WarCraft III until I got to college.  So, suffice it to say, I had absolutely no idea of the story I was getting into when I went to see WarCraft, since the movie is based around the events of the first WarCraft game that was released back in 1994.  Or at least, the time period of the events take place in the first WarCraft game, while the actual events have been expanded upon in the multitudes of books and World of WarCraft expansions that have since been released.

I have to say, to this film’s credit, it was by far the most unique movie I’ve seen in a while.  It could have been easy to just be a dumb action movie, but more time is actually spent on the characters involved and their motivations.  Well, at least on the Orc side.  The humans are just kind of…around.  I’m not sure what it is, but the Orcs’ story was just more interesting than the Humans.  You have Travis Fimmel playing Anduin Lothar, a commander of Azeroth’s armies, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what he’s doing.  Is he drunk 24/7?  He might be trying to be a witty and snarky character but it’s hard to understand him with him doing his Ragnar Lothbrok thing.

That said, there were humans that I ended up rooting for.  Ben Schnetzer plays a mage in training by the name of Khadgar who at first, I thought I would hate (with his wide eyes and pretty face), but as the show went one, he slowly became something of an interesting character.  Annoying but somewhat lovable.

It just seems like more time was spent working on the characterization and story of the Orcs than there was with the humans.  Everything about the Orcs I just enjoyed, from the characters to the story.  Toby Kebbell really shines as Durotan, an orc who is unsure of the warlock who now leads the horde.  At his core, he wants nothing more than to protect his family, even if it means betraying his kind.

The most interesting inclusion to the story is Paula Patton as Garona, a half-orc, half-human woman who grew up as a slave among the orcs.  Sadly, she is underused in my opinion and seems only to be there to provide a baffling love interest for Lothat because reasons.

This is a movie that is less focused on the visuals and the pretty special effects and more focused on the characters, and because of this, the world-building suffers a little.  We’re given pretty shots of locations that seem more catered to the hardcore WarCraft fans but we’re never given any sort of explanation about what these places are and why they’re important.  For example, I know from the games that Dalaran is a city-state run by the Kirin-Tor mages, but nowhere in the movie is that really mentioned.  Nor is it mentioned that Stormwind is the capital city of the human empire.  I’m just saying an explanation of the world we’re supposed to be watching for the next 2 hours would be nice.

For all its faults, this movie does have heart.  I found myself invested in the movie even though everything about would make it seem like a bad movie.  As for myself, I have seen truly awful movies and WarCraft is not one of those.  It is a movie with flaws but it tries.  Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes if fails.  In the end, it is something different and I can never fault it for that.  Which is why it is probably one of my favorite movies based on a video game, if not my favorite.