“Kong: Skull Island” and the Meta-Issue in Hollywood

A compounding problem in Hollywood is the rate at which serious dramas are slowly dying on the big screen. As TV slowly steals the best stories, moviegoers are left with movies like “Kong: Skull Island,” which are devoid of almost any serious inquiry into human elements. The metaphor that gave birth to Godzilla is an essential component that Kong lacks historically. The hollow-Earth theory reinforcing Randa’s (Goodman) obsession with these “monsters” is a substantial critique — possibly unbeknownst to the production team behind this film — of the problem of popcorn movies hollowing out the actual reason that we tell stories; to connect.

The real problems of “Kong” come down to two main features. The first is there are only two memorable characters in the film: Packard (Jackson) and Hank (Reilly). Every other character is superficial at best with hollow representations of human emotions: Mason’s (Larson) empathy for Kong, Chapman’s (Kebbell) letter he could not deliver to his son, and Cole’s (Whigham) ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude (shit because, pg13). These representations remind me of how a child’s black and white vision searches for neat little boxes to fit answers. “Kong” is a shallow attempt to connect, though, it does succeed with Packard and Hank. Packard is a man who habituated warfare in the most Aristotelian way. He cannot help but think the only way he knows how to handle situations (with explosions) is the only way to solve the problem at hand. Hank (poor Hank), stuck on an Island for 30 years, has slowly slipped into a deep manic state. He is hilarious, but we should not take for granted that while he is funny, he is not laughable.

The second problem in “Kong” is it surely is entertaining. The visuals are incredible, action scenes go off without a hitch, and situating the movie in the Vietnam era allows for some fantastic music to not feel out of place. The entertaining nature of “Kong” is only problematic when taking a wide-angle view of the landscape. Obviously, I would rather watch an entertaining hollow movie than a non-entertaining hollow movie (I’m looking at you Transformers 8 or whatever one we’re on). But, as money continues to be the deciding factor on what stories are told at the cinema, we start to lose a connection to essential human qualities that go beyond the superficial. A familiar argument is ‘I go to the theater to get away for a while.’ While this argument is justifiable, we should not have to comprise our characters and narrative to be entertained.