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Brains vs Brawns. Skull Island Impresses with Mystery and Kaiju Style Action!

Netflix Skull Island Promotional PosterLegendary PicturesSkull Island is essentially a variation on a theme. I’ve seen this story in Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous; both tales concern teens and adults trapped in the worst place possible. They not only have to contend with rogue scientists but also giant monsters. When they wash up here, where they land is no Hotel California.

Although this animation is billed as a story for an older crowd, the teen elements are at the forefront, and the ape (i.e. Kong) simply lounging around. His presence is downplayed while another beast takes centre stage. I’m curious about Dog, who probably aids the mighty gorilla. This temperamental mutant has the features of a Pitbull, lion and armadillo.

He’d be the type of creature cryptologists and scientists would want to study. But instead, they’re more interested in riling up things from the sea and detonating explosives in places where they shouldn’t. Charlie (Nicolas Cantu) doesn’t like this life, and if it weren’t for his best friend, Mike (Darren Barnet) being here, he’d probably go crazy. This teen wants a normal life.

After finding Annie (Mae Whitman) on a raft and saving her, his interest in her and adventure is only beginning. If that mysterious appearance isn’t enough, the boat gets attacked by a beast and just where they land is easy to guess. Most of the adults are lost at sea, presumably dead, and it’s only the kids who must navigate the dangers that lay ahead.

These eight episodes offered so far have enough moments to make binge-watching a must. And I really wondered when Kong would appear in the series. By episode five, (“Doggone It”) the past civilization that existed on Skull Island is revealed as ancient, and those people’s relationship with the ape wouldn’t get fully realised until seven (“You’re Not a King, You’re Just a Stupid Animal”), where we see the big guy get the respect he deserves from Islanders. This relationship with the islander might be a continuation of the children’s book, “Kong & Me,” by Kiki Thorpe (review), but it’s hard to tell. To see humanity’s relationship with the beast is fitting, since not everyone wants to be at war with the almighty ape.

What makes Skull Island a fine jumping in point is that one doesn’t need to know the live-action movie at all. The creatures have been living in relative obscurity until man arrived. The fact some of them just want to hunt them down says it all. That’s where the Jurassic World animated series connection kicks in. As for where this entry fits in Legendary Pictures overall plan, what fans are seeing are mostly an attempt to domesticate some of them. That’s evident in Annie’s relationship with Dog and as for whether she was born and raised here, that’s a plot point yet to be explored. The reveal of her origins has me guessing she’s been genetically engineered.

As for wondering if fans will see that big kaiju-sized fight, at least that moment doesn’t disappoint! It’s a battle between Kong and the Kraken, if the latter can be called that. The kids are nearby, and there’s even a bit of collateral damage involved too. As for whether anyone wants to return to Skull Island, only time will tell where the next adventures will take place.

Unlike Legendary’s other animated forays with expanding the Pacific Rim narrative where one needs to rewatch to remember what’s happened, this one will stick to you since we got better characters to relate to, and who knows, it may segway into the live action television series too, which is currently in production.

4 Stars out of 5

Skull Island Trailer

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