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Skull Island (Review)



When a group of explorers, a cast away, and mercenaries find themselves ship wrecked after being attacked by a sea monster, everyone must work together to escape an island teaming with monsters looking to hunt them.


The next chapter in the Monsterverse series has arrived after what felt like an eternity of radio silence. Skull Island was originally announced back in 2021 and we never got anything else until a teaser photo was released last year and then nothing until May 2023 when we got our first trailer. After watching the show, I found it to be underwhelming and the characters very uninteresting or unlikable.


Pros:



To start off, I actually liked the style of animation. The studio that produced the animation for Skull Island was Powerhouse Animation, who are known for adult oriented cartoon shows such as Castlevania and Blood of Zeus. In an age where animated shows rely on a lot of CG, this did not look like it was CG. It had that style you would see in late 90's/early 00's cartoons that would come on Saturday morning. It reminded me of shows like Godzilla: The Series, Men In Black, and Extreme Ghostbusters. There are even comparisons in animation styles to Kong: The Animated Series, another King Kong cartoon that premiered back in 2000 first on Fox Kids, then Disney's Jetix and Cartoon Network. There are some hiccups here and there that does look like the animation could use some improvement, but it doesn't ruin the overall experience.


I will criticize that the term "anime" is getting used a little too loosely. When I think of "anime" there is a specific style of animation. Godzilla: Singular Point, for example, is an anime. Dragon Ball Z is an anime. Spy X Family, Spirited Away, Princess Monoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and many more. All of these follow a specific exaggerated style with the characters, personalities, and action. Skull Island does not give me that idea of an anime. As I said, it reminds me more of Saturday morning cartoons from the late 90's/00's and I am perfectly okay with that kind of animation.


The designs for the monsters we see in the show look really nice and I am glad we see a lot of new ones that were never seen in the 2017 movie Kong: Skull Island. There is this sea monster that Kong fights and the design reminds me of the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. The monster does not have a name yet, so for the remainder of the review I will just be calling it the "Kraken" rather than sea monster. The "Kraken" looks terrifying and it displays a kind of intelligence that is kind of scary. Without having to use its eyes to see the "Kraken" can sense where its prey is located and how its prey moves. It can sting its prey with electric shocks from one of its tentacles, which is what happened to Mike in the first episode. Apparently, it can even sense where Kong is located based on one scene where the "Kraken" throws a whale miles inland to Kong's temple just to taunt him. I did sort of chuckle at this part because it came out of left-field and all of the human characters just look so confused and so done with Skull Island after watching this whale flying across the night sky. It showed that the "Kraken" can be sort of a dick and it had me intrigued that a monster in this universe can act out that way just to make another monster angry. So I give creativity and personality for the "Kraken" a thumbs up.


Mixed:



One of the worries I have heard from some people is that it won't be gory. For those that like seeing blood splatter or anything that is very graphic Skull Island doesn't shy away from it. Everyone knows that this show is made by the same studio that did the Castlevania series and Blood of Zeus, which both of them are very gory. Because the trailers for Skull Island did not show any of the more graphical imagery it made some people question the show. I did not care for the blood and gore factor, but for those that do there is plenty of monster gore and regular gore on screen.


For a show based around Skull Island, it is normal for everyone to expect Kong to have a strong presence in the show. However, the approach that Legendary and Powerhouse Animation took with this show is similar to Godzilla (2014), which Godzilla had some presence and yet is not the main focus of the movie. The same thing with Kong in Skull Island. He has some presence through out the show, but he is not the show's main focus of the story. He can be seen here and there through out the show, however, he doesn't do much for most of the show other than walking, eating, or sulking. It is not until the final two episodes where Kong gets the center stage. His fight with the "Kraken" is good, yet his story with the native girl felt underwhelming and it does not add anything to Kong as a character.


There is even this giant hawk that looks like a phoenix. For one episode, we see Kong and this bird teaming up to fight these chameleon monsters, which is pretty cool. Yet when the fight between Kong and the "Kraken" happened we never see this bird again, which I feel is a missed opportunity. It would be amazing if we got to see Kong and this bird team up to fight the "Kraken." I think having that bird in the fight would have helped make the scene look more dynamic. In the end of it all, this bird got stuck delivering Kong's meals and reduced to being an errand boy.


Cons:



For a show that takes place in the Monsterverse, there is very little that suggests this outside of the Skull Crawler and Skur Buffalo that are briefly seen. Not even Monarch was mentioned anywhere in this show and this is the organization that is a staple to the whole series. At times, I did question if Cap is a part of Monarch. Cap had already known about the Hollow Earth theory, so it would make sense for him to be part of that organization. At the same time, however, Monarch is not mentioned anywhere in this show. If you took out the Skull Crawler, the Skur Buffalo, and Cap's mentioning of the Hollow Earth Skull Island could have been a show totally separate from the Godzilla-Kong universe that Legendary Entertainment has provided over four movies.


When it comes down to the story and the show's main characters, both fail to do anything new nor remarkable. The show didn't allow a lot of time for these characters to grow and develop. Charlie is a teenager that seeks a normal life and wants to go to college. His father, who goes by Cap, is a cryptozoologist (someone who studies undiscovered and mythological animals) and did not like the idea of letting Charlie go to college and thought it would be better to stay with him. Charlie's best friend, Mike, is there just as a supporting character for Charlie. These characters were only okay, but their potential to grow as characters is very little and they get degraded a lot of the times by Annie.



Annie is the boss girl of this series. She is written out to be someone that has no flaws and degrades every character that shows an ounce of weakness. In my honest opinion, a character that is written without flaws is a HUGE flaw. It does not leave room for the character to develop and allow the audience to connect with them on an emotional level. Annie come off as very annoying and egotistical. There is one scene in the show where Charlie falls into this hole and Mike was begging Annie to help him save Charlie and Annie showed no interest because she thought saving Charlie is boring. Then, Mike begs her to ask DOG, the monster that looks like a bull dog, to save him. She nonchalantly asks DOG and DOG showed no interest in helping out neither. After Charlie gets rescued by Annie tricking DOG into chasing the giant ant away, Annie turns to Mike and flat out tells him she is a better friend to Charlie than Mike is. Her antic was to just peg Mike and Charlie down to being worthless.


What I especially hate about Annie even more is when the show revealed Annie and Irene were daughter and mother, there is a whole backstory of how the two of them first made contact with each other happened to be that DOG attacked Irene and her search team first, thus provoking the search team to shoot at DOG, and Annie just automatically assumes it was Irene's fault. Meanwhile, the first impression I initially had about Irene and her search team was that I thought they were a terrorist group or a band of pirates that had kidnapped Annie. You don't really find out that Irene was Annie's mother until the sixth episode. By the eighth and final episode, tries to set up a mother/daughter heart to heart moment, but it comes off very awkward and Annie continues to berate her for not finding her sooner. I get that Annie's reaction to this lady that claims to be her mom is supposed to be awkward. On the other hand, Irene had been searching for her daughter for those ten years that Annie had been missing. Irene specifically explains she had always been looking for Annie all this time. So in other words, Annie comes off as a real bitch to her mom and Irene should be given a mother of the year award.


As for DOG, I will say that the design for this monster looked cool. He looks like a giant bull dog with a mane, which reminded me a little bit of King Caesar from Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla. Obviously, it is not King Caesar. DOG's design just resembles him. However, that is as much praise as I will give DOG because he is not much of a protector like the monster I compared him with and is just as unlikable as Annie.


It just does what it wants and doesn't really care about the other characters unless it has to do with Annie. I get that Annie was the one that raised DOG thus making Annie his owner and his trust issues with humans for shooting him, but why refuse help to other people who are helpless and unarmed? You can still have an animal that has trust issues, but still be able to help others without being so stubborn. As I pointed out before, DOG was the one that caused the confusion and hostility between Irene and Annie in the first place. He was the one that attacked Irene first. It can be argued that DOG attacked because he saw the guns Irene's search party were holding and that brought back memories of his parent being killed by a gun, which provoked him to attack. On the other hand, Annie could have called DOG to back away and the dispute between Annie and Irene could have been resolved much earlier rather than jumping to conclusions assuming Irene was at fault. Usually I don't want to see dogs killed in movies or shows, but if the show had let DOG die I would not care one bit about it. He wasn't cute. He was just a nuisance.


While we get to see what happens to Annie and Irene at the end of the show, we never got to see what happened to Mike, Cap, nor Charlie. The show left a lot of loose ends that I am assuming will get answered in a season 2. At the same time, some of the questions could have been answered in this season. Was Cap a part of Monarch? Did Mike survive his injuries? What did the Iwi do to Charlie after he was captured? Did any of them actually make it off the island? The show's ending left it at an awkward cliff hanger that I did not like very much.


Final Thoughts:


While the show has had its moments and the monster designs looked nice, Skull Island leaves a lot to be desired from the story and the characters were atrocious. Aside from the few nods to Kong: Skull Island, nobody would really notice that this is part of the Monsterverse if you presented this to someone with very little knowledge. I even got the impression that nobody from Powerhouse Animation really knew what to do with this show. It does not add anything to the Monsterverse lore and can be skipped entirely.


What are your thoughts on Skull Island? Did you like the show or not like the show? What was your favorite or least favorite part of the show? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on Skull Island. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.

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