Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

If it’s not on Google Maps, chances are, you should stay away from it.

It’s 1973, the Vietnam War is close to an end, and Bill Randa (John Goodman) a senior official in a super secret government organization known as Monarch, finally sees his opportunity to capitalize on achieving one of his biggest missions yet: Going to the mysterious Skull Island and figuring out what sort of threat is out there. After much arm-twisting, the government finally gives Randa the tools and resources he needs to get there, which means that he gets the army, the weapons, as well as the experts to help guide him along on this possibly dangerous island. One person Randa seeks out and pays to help him is world-renowned traveler James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who doesn’t know what’s there on Skull Island, either, but doesn’t like the sounds of it, which is why he demands for his pay to be doubled. Meanwhile, on the mission, is anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who can’t wait to see what’s out there, and Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a member of the Army who isn’t too happy about what happened with the war and isn’t ready to let that go. Not even a gigantic, monstrous and incredibly violent ape known as Kong.

Kong best look out.

Kong: Skull Island is so entertaining, so quick, so visually impressive, and so fun that, even with all of its flaws, I’m willing and absolutely able to just let bygones be bygones and praise the film as it is. Because even though the script is silly, underwritten, and not at all up to the task of aiding and abetting this talented ensemble, the direction from Jordan Vogt-Roberts is so thrilling, it’s hard to care so much. After all, do you really go to a King Kong movie for the well-written, three-dimensional, and emotionally complex characters? Or, do you go to a King Kong movie for the vividly gigantic monsters beating the absolute hell out of one another and terrorizing any human that tries to stand in their ways?

Honestly, it’s not bad to have a little bit of both, but fine, Kong: Skull Island wants to stick with the later, so whatever.

Either way, Kong: Skull Island is still a very fun movie and a lot of that is credited to Vogt-Roberts because he takes what could have been a very soulless, almost boring job of rebooting the tale of Kong and instead, adds some life, flair (literally), and energy into it. One of the most notable and interesting aspects Vogt-Roberts adds here is that Kong: Skull Island is, on one hand, a monster movie, in which people run away and try to kill a monster, but on the other hand, it’s also a Vietnam War movie, in which some cold cut rock classics from the early-70’s blasts out from the speakers, everyone’s a little scared and paranoid, and yeah, the temperature is hot, sweaty and downright miserable. In a way, Vogt-Roberts wants to make the Apocalypse Now of monster movies and while he doesn’t quite reach those heights, he still shows us all something new and original can be done with the monster movie.

And because of this, there’s an energy to Skull Island that’s hard to resist and shove-off. Even though it’s absolutely clear from the get-go that the script is going to be shoddy, silly and downright stupid, there’s just something about the look and feel of this all that’s easy to ride along with and enjoy. Even those who want to see Kong in all of his finest form, will be pleased to know that he’s seen a whole bunch throughout and doing all the sorts of things that you’d expect him to do in a movie involving him; there’s smashing, crunching, chewing, roaring, pounding, beating, breaking, punching, kicking, throwing, eating, and oh yeah, crying. Kind of.

But not from these fools.

Regardless, those who complained about 2014 Godzilla not having enough of said title character, then sit down, shut up and feast your eyes on the creature that you’ve all been so desperately wanting to see.

That said though, like I’ve said before, the script is just, uhm, how should I say this? Lame. But it’s not terrible in that it’s hard to listen to, ruins the movie, and sucks all of the fun out of it; it’s more that it feels like a leftover script from the 90’s, right around the time Jurassic Park came out and all of a sudden, everyone wanted to make a big-budget, effects-heavy monster movie. Meaning, there’s a lot of cheesy one-liners; a lot of characters who have basically one personality-trait to them and it basically defines them; a lot of contrivances; a lot of scenes that need more explaining; and oh yeah, a lot of random bits of silliness that seem to literally come from out of nowhere.

And it’s weird, too, because the cast here is so well-done and impressive, that it’s a bit of a shame. No one’s bad here, honestly, but because the net has been cast so far and wide, no one true performance really gets to shine above the rest. The only ones I can truly think of doing this are probably John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s just because they get maybe two or three more sentences than the rest of the cast to explain themselves and allow us to get to know them a tad bit better. Others like Hiddleston, Larson, Goodman, Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, and an oddly miscast Thomas Mann, all fall by the waist side and it’s a sign that the movie may have cast a smaller net, or have been longer.

Still though, for a movie that clocks in just under two hours, it makes for a good time. Just don’t try and think too hard, like me.

Basically, don’t be me.

Consensus: Even with an awfully wacky script, Kong: Skull Island gets by solely on the pure energy and fun from its direction, as well as an interesting take on the monster movie genre itself.

7 / 10

Oh wait. Never mind. He can’t be stopped.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz


The Kings of Summer (2013)

It’s the dream every kid before the year 2000 had. Now, they just want to play COD.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias star as three teenage friends who, tired of living with their constantly-nagging parents, decide to build a house in the middle of the woods during one summer. As the boys soon find out, it’s harder to be on your own, whereas the parents find out: they are just as crazy as they thought they were. Yeah, can’t find anything deeper than that. Sorry.

Most movies about kids usually show one thing and that’s how they all want to be their own type of grown-ups. It never works, but it always amuses us on-lookers due to the fact that we know that half of the crap we have in our lives and are able to do, wouldn’t be possible without our parents/family. However, you can’t tell that to the rebellious teen who’s expecting summer to be the time for him/her to shine and come into their own. I was one of them, and I soon learned: jeez, I love my mommy and daddy. As much as they drive me crazy, I know that I would be nothing without their help and support, so why the hell do these kids think that they can get past that long-lasting virtue!?!?? Those spoiled brats!

Whenever I see a movie like this that concerns young teenagers, being exactly that, I can usually connect considering I was one not too long ago. However, these kids I couldn’t really connect with all that much. It wasn’t because they were the nerds in school that spent more times stuffed in their lockers than in actual class, but I think it’s because the movie didn’t really give them any type of personalities that were more than just your typical, cliché. There’s one guy who’s just the standard kid, who’s chasing after this chick who’s stuck with the older, d-bag that’s holding her down; another kid that has parents that drive him ridiculously-insane; and lastly, there’s the weird kid that says nutty things, does nutty things, and has an even nuttier-reason for doing the things that he does (just to let you know, the reason is there is no reason: he just does it). It doesn’t really go any deeper than that with any of these kids and even though they seem like the type of kids I could meet in school, say “hi” to, and forget that they were even involved with my day, it still doesn’t make them the types of kids that I want to watch in a movie, let alone one about how they break out of their shells and get wild in the forest.

In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.

In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.

For me, that was the biggest problem for me with this movie. I don’t know if it’s a point of character or what it is with me, but these kids didn’t strike me as ones that interested me, had me feeling for them when they were being annoyed by their parents, and they sure as hell didn’t do much for me in believing that they could stay out of the world of technology, where Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reigns supreme. Seriously, if you took three types of kids out their element, placed them in the middle of the woods, gave them a house with little to no electricity to support their asses; they would go completely insane. That’s rarely touched on here, and it seemed strange, especially when the movie seems as self-knowing about it’s premise and characters as it does.

That’s not to say I didn’t hate the movie, it just disappointed me in a way. I expected this to be that one “smart” movie about kids being themselves, and letting loose of all insecurities, but it wasn’t. Instead, I just got a movie that seemed more concerned with straining itself to be funny, show that nature is awesome, and also, be able to show that you should always stay with your mommy and daddy, no matter how much they may tick you off with their constant love and smothering. Well, because you know: having parents that love, care, and support your ass throughout every stage of your life blows, doesn’t it? Give me a break!

However, it’s not as bad as I may make it sound. In fact, I’d say that the movie still allowed me to have a good time, despite it not really delivering on many of the marks that usually make a movie like this, work for me. The characters don’t feel like memorable, but it’s the energy of summer that does. That feeling you get in your body when you know that just about everything and anything is possible, you can pull off any types of havoc or debauchery and be fine at the end of the day, is exactly what summer is all about and was practically made for, which is what type of presence this movies gives off. It reminded me of why I love summer so much (seriously though, which kid doesn’t?!?!?), and since it’s here; it makes me jitter-bug even more, as I type each and every word out.

Well, that and the fact that I’m still recovering last night. Holy shit.

So, basically: if you want a movie that you want to remind what it’s like to live in the feel of summer, and be young and wild again; then this is the film for you. That may be all that it’s worth remembering for, but at least that’s better than nothing. Can’t say I hated the film for that and it took me away from liking it more, but it definitely didn’t win much points for me either. It was just there, on the screen, having fun with itself, while I sort of sat there and wish I was having as much fun as these kids. God, what it would pay to be young again. And fun, too. I miss those days. Wah.

Next best thing to Rock Band.

The homeless person’s version of Rock Band.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias seem like they have much promise when it comes to their future film roles, however, they didn’t get much of a good start here. It’s nothing against them as actors, because they all do fine, it’s just that their character don’t seem to be as fully fleshed out as the film may have it seem like. Robinson is a bit dull as the type of kid that just goes about his day, gets slightly-picked on, and never sticks up for himself; Basso is fine as the one kid who just does his thing, doesn’t get in anybody’s way, but is extremely cool with his out-look on life, even if it is a bit ordinary; and Arias is the weirdo of the group, Biaggio, who’s fun to be around because of the manic energy he brings to the table. They all have good rapport together and seem like the type of kids that would be friends and do something like build a house out in the middle of the forest, but only one stood-out for me (Biaggio), and even he seemed like a one-trick pony that the movie, as well as the characters, loved to point at every so often and show us what a cook-ball he truly is. Funny for about 2 scenes, but gets old, REAL QUICK.

The adults probably fare better in this situation, and even they feel like they can get the shorter-end of the stick at times. At times. Nick Offerman is the best out of the whole cast for the sole fact that he was able to make me forget that he was playing a character, that reminded me exactly of Ron Swanson. Offerman is good as the father of the main kid who starts this whole plan and idea, because he’s able to have us gain sympathy for this lonely, depressed dude that seems to have lost it all in his life, but doesn’t want to lose his son. So, therefore, he tries his hardest to keep control of him, anyway he can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What matters though is that he cares and loves his son, which is why he stole the movie for me. His real-life wife, Megan Mullally, is here as a mother of another one of the kids and is fine being goofy, but I think enough is enough with these two love-birds showing up in the same movies. I get it! They are married, love each other to death, and support one another on every decision (aka, movie) the other one takes, but separate yourselves for a bit, for godsakes!

Consensus: The Kings of Summer will make most people feel happy, young, and fun inside, but that’s not because the characters are three-dimensional or the plot-scenario is memorable in the least bit, it’s just because the movie is about summer, that also happens to feature kids living out on their own, but also not forgetting to learn some real important life-lessons along the way. Just go home, hug your mommy, or your daddy, or whoever the hell is closest to you and be happy.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Hey, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when the rents are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?

Look at the bright side, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when “the ‘rents” are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?