Netflix’s action-animated series, Skull Island follows a group of shipwrecked explorers contending with the creatures of the titular island, including Kong himself.
A group of sea explorers finds a girl named Annie who’s running away from armed men and their ship. Before she can finish all her backstories, they are attacked by a giant squid monster.
Mike’s dad dies and so does most of the crew. Cap, his son Charlie, and Mike survive and wash ashore the Skull Island. There, they encounter many beasts as Annie helps Mike and Charlie with the help of her beastly pet named Dog.
She’s also on the run from the armed men who want to take her away, led by Irene, who Cap stumbles upon somewhere else on the island. They eventually cross paths and Irene reveals that she’s Annie’s mother.
They all try to escape the island but the squid monster makes it impossible. Charlie makes a plan that involves Kong fighting the squid, and it works too. Skull Island ends with Annie finding herself in the city while Mike, Cap, and Charlie’s fates are left ambiguous.
Darren Barnet plays Mike and does a great job at it. Playing a character that goes through so much trauma and hardship in such a short amount of time is a challenge for anyone and Barent takes on the challenge with great conviction.
Benjamin Bratt lends his voice to Cap, who’s the typical straight man but one who also houses an intense drive to explore new places and creatures. Bratt’s performance makes it really easy to believe the character and he’s the best in moments where his funnier side comes out, albeit these moments are few and far between.
Nicolas Cantu’s Charlie is one of the highlights of the show, and he does a brilliant job conveying Charlie’s frustrations, vulnerabilities, courage, fear, longing, and humor. It’s really easy to like Charlie and Cantu plays a significant role in making that possible.
Mae Whitman’s Annie is also equally as good and even in the moments where writing fails her, she manages to bring the charm that compensates for said deficiencies.
Whenever Kong takes prominence in the frame, it’s a delight and even with the not-so-great animation, he inspires thrill and awe with his monstrous stature and acts of heroism.
There is a friendly banter between Mike and Charlie that is consistent throughout the show and even when the jokes don’t quite land, the banter does seem genuine and even heartwarming.
The creatures, new and familiar, are all believably terrifying, even if the scale and the difference between their sizes and humans aren’t conveyed as clearly as they could have been.
Skull Island relies on very familiar storylines and tropes and the constant quip-dropping flair that it borrows from most contemporary mainstream cinema is just plain boring.
The writing is weak and the way things end is extremely unsatisfying. The tendency to leave a narrative with dozens of loose threads and the fates of the main characters ambiguous, so that it can all be continued with a lousy and expected follow-up in the sequel is simply detrimental to the art of storytelling.
The climactic battle of Skull Island isn’t nearly as exciting as Kong’s battle with the lizards in the penultimate episode, which is a huge number since the stakes and dangers are much more immediate and effectively conveyed in one of the fights and absolutely absent in the one that’s supposed to be the grand final showdown.
The animation is adequate at its best and downright ugly at its worst. It does a couple of good maneuverings with the animated camera movement in the first episode, but that kind of creativity is largely absent in the episodes that follow.
Falling short of a couple of key things that could have made the affair a whole lot more thrilling, Skull Island is instead an uninspired mess of familiar tropes, tired gags, and character clichés.
Director: Julie Olson, Amanda Sitareh B., Danny Araya
Date Created: 2023-06-22 12:30
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