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Skull Island Review – An Island Full of Fearsome Creatures But the Focus is On 6 Random Humans

Netflix's new animated series 'Skull Island' has a lot of potential and a stellar cast, but doesn't seem to want to take advantage of it or the IP.
Skull Island Review

Kong: Skull Island is my favorite movie of the King Kong and Godzilla Monsterverse films. So when I heard that Netflix was getting a Skull Island animated series, I was super hyped. A chance to explore the rich history of the weird and wonderous creatures that roam the land. Learn the backstory of Kong and his parents, and maybe even the villagers who seem to worship Kong. There was so much from the movie to explore and expand upon.

Skull Island, However, Is About New Humans

Skull Island
(L to R) Betty Gilpin as Irene, Phil LaMarr as Sam and Benjamin Bratt as Cap in Skull Island. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023

The series takes place in a time that is definitely after the film, but also not quite modern-day, and before Godzilla vs. Kong. The main characters of the series are these two best friends who are old teenagers and their fathers, one a scientific explorer, the other captain of the ship, who are exploring and studying the waters around Skull Island. In the height of and argument with Charlie and his father about him leaving the expedition to go to college, they put it on pause to do some work. Charlie and Mike, the best friends, end up finding someone floating in the ocean, That person is Annie, who is very distrusting at first.

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Soon after, as they start to get answers from Annie, their boat is attacked and they wind up on the shores of a strange island. Now, in the midst of all this chaos, separated from their fathers, and in a giant ape footprint in the sand, Charlie and Make must rely on Annie to help to reunite with their dads and get off the island.

Lost on Skull Island

Skull Island
Skull Island. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2022

Aside from the characters being lost, the focus feels a bit lost. First, there is a major lack of Kong. Granted the series leave his name out for a reason, so it’s to be expected. However as Skull Island is merely a backdrop, with very little focus on the wonderous creatures on it, would have been nice to get more Kong. Kong does have an episode dedicated to him which is awesome and gives some backstory, so there is hope.

Outside of focusing entirely too much on new humans who do not seem to have any connection to any of the films, or even Monarch, the film cannot decide on its maturity level. Mainly if it wants to be a bloody and visceral series or a cleverly insinuating one. The few times they feature the monsters, they do wreak damage and even deaths. Which they sometimes show, but then don’t fully embrace the carnage. Then there are deaths they don’t show but aren’t set up or even cued off-screen by sounds or character reactions to indicate the level of savagery these dangerous creatures are capable of.

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It’s almost like an R-Rated movie censored to be PG, which is far more annoying than being aimed at a younger audience. The series does not take advantage of the animation medium and tends to tell rather than show. So while it is very much set up to be a mature and vicious survival series with cutthroat mercenaries and giant and deadly creatures, it somehow comes off far more subdued and childish than shows actually aimed at children based on more mature properties.

Such as Camp Cretaceous, which serves as a wonderful introduction to the themes and terrifying scenarios of the Jurassic Park franchise without visually showing the direct terror, but showing character reactions, silhouettes, and letting audiences hear it.

Skull Island can’t decide and usually ends up with a half attempt one way or the other that takes the air out of the situation.

The One Life Saver Of This Ship

Skull Island
Darren Barnet as Mike in Skull Island. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023

The cast is great. Everyone performs their parts admirably. You do get to like the characters. There is too much of them for the subject matter. But even separating a kid from his single-parent father during the height of their biggest argument doesn’t get you to care when it happens because too little is related to the title of the series. Massive drama is forced at you without the context you want or need to care about. I mean you get heavy ridiculously heavy parent-child drama before you get a name for any character. And you don’t even get the name of the big “death” that is supposed to matter in the pilot.

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Season 2 Better Change Course

Skull Island
(L to R) Nicolas Cantu as Charlie and Darren Barnet as Mike in Skull Island. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023

When you have a show based on a movie, it should connect to the movie in the pilot episode. Granted, it is a spinoff, it is focused on a different thing, and need to get the audience to buy into your new cast and concept. However, get your show to relate to the title of your series. Forcing family drama in the faces of viewers rather to get them to try to sympathize with their character rather than giving reasons to like them, then forcing us to follow them and giving us very little subject matter related to the main film or even the title, is a bad approach.

Even with the stellar cast, the unfocused writing and visual choices are severely testing the goodwill of the fans.

Skull Island has a lot of potential but is a bit unfocused and the parts in focus are poorly executed and all stuff you would not care about as fans of the movie, so I give it a 5/10.

Skull Island is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.

About Skull Island

Skull Island

Release Date: June 22, 2023, exclusively on Netflix
Created by: Brian Duffield
Executive Producers: Brian Duffield, Brad Graeber, Jen Chambers, Thomas Tull
Writers: Brian Duffield
Production: Legendary Television Powerhouse Animation
Cast: Nicolas Cantu, Mae Whitman, Darren Barnett, Benjamin Bratt, Betty Gilpin

Synopsis
“Skull Island” takes viewers on a thrilling adventure as a group of kind-hearted explorers rescues Annie (Mae Whitman) from the ocean, unaware that their act of heroism will lead them to the treacherous Skull Island. This enigmatic place is home to bizarre creatures and terrifying monsters, including the mighty titan himself, Kong.

Are you excited about Netflix upcoming animated series, Skull Island? How do you think the series will connect to the larger Monsterverse, Monarchand even Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire? Will there be a connecting throughline or dozens of easter eggs to find? Let us know all your thoughts and theories about the new series on social media!

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Kevin Fenix

Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | News Editor The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.