Netflix’s Skull Island Review: A Monster Misfire That Lacks Roar


Once upon a time, in the golden era of cinema, the sight of a massive gorilla scaling the Empire State Building sent chills down the spines of awe-struck moviegoers. Fast forward to 2023, and Netflix’s animated series “Skull Island” manages to reduce that grandeur into an uninspiring spectacle – a monstrous letdown in a franchise otherwise known for its scale and thrilling theatrics.

“Skull Island,” in an attempt to blend the pulp narrative of its predecessor film “Kong: Skull Island” with the nostalgia of Hanna-Barbera classics, produces a disharmonious mash-up that leaves much to be desired. The series follows the exploits of Charlie, a disinterested teenager who yearns for normalcy away from his father Cap’s obsessive cryptid-hunting adventures. Along with the nondescript Mike and the wilderness-hardened Annie, they represent a crew whose development feels as shallow as a tropical lagoon. These characters’ blandness, coupled with narratives recycled from their 2017 cinematic encounter, offers little incentive for viewers to invest in their survival on the monster-infested island.

Netflix's Skull Island Review

The decision to infuse the mature elements of the MonsterVerse with a light-hearted Saturday morning cartoon tone results in an uneven blend of violence and levity. The resultant tonal dissonance is as jarring as seeing a two-ton gorilla in the concrete jungle of New York.

Compared to other MonsterVerse media, the narrative feels like a sluggish trek through a dense jungle, lacking the electrifying pace and high stakes associated with the franchise. Cap’s motivations echo those of John Goodman’s character in the film, a reiteration that feels as tedious as it is uncreative. Also, the interpersonal banter between the characters feels hollow and fails to add depth or humour to the series.

On a brighter note, the creature design showcases some of the series’ fleeting sparks of creativity. These monstrous antagonists lend themselves to engaging battles, their well-animated forms a reminder of the franchise’s better days. Even so, the originality of these beasts is somewhat marred by their clear borrowings from the film.

Netflix's Skull Island Review

In the center of the chaos, Kong’s portrayal as a lonely protector brings some emotional resonance. A standout flashback episode revealing Kong’s relationship with the people of Skull Island and his struggle with solitude provides a glimpse into what the series could have been if the human characters were as thoughtfully conceived.

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Unfortunately, “Skull Island” prioritizes poorly realized human drama over its titular beast, resulting in an animated series that feels like an aimless expedition. Despite attempts at crafting a fusion of styles, the final product is a disappointing addition to the MonsterVerse, filled with superfluous padding that only serves to delay the monster showdown that the audience truly craves.

Netflix’s “Skull Island” is a detour in the MonsterVerse that feels more like a sinking ship than a triumphant voyage. It’s a regrettable misstep, one that squanders its colossal potential on uninspired characters, retread narratives, and a jumbled tonal palette. It’s clear this series needed more than a titanic ape to save it from its narrative pitfalls.

RATING: 2.0 out of 5
Skull Island is now streaming on Netflix.

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