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Netflix's Skull Island buries giant monsters with too many one-liners

It goes without saying that when people watch King Kong, Godzilla, or King Kong vs. Godzilla, they’re there to watch massive monsters wreak havoc. Sometimes there are funny human stories, but they’re mostly meant to portray those giant monsters we love so much. That’s the first mistake Netflix’s animated spin-off “ Skull Island ” makes: For most of the first season, the story focuses almost entirely on people. second? These people are, almost without exception, annoying and chatty. The show turns things around by the end, but for that to happen, you have to live with the nonstop one-liners and one-liners.

As the name suggests, Skull Island takes place on… Skull Island, the home of King Kong. There are several different groups on the island. A group of researchers washed ashore after a run-in with a mysterious sea monster joins a well-armed military group doing what military groups do on a monster-infested island. And Annie, a teenage girl who was shipwrecked as a child and survived for years on Skull Island. She’s a seemingly skilled killer, and she’s best friends with a huge, muscular dog named Dog.

The island is actually a pretty fascinating place, especially if you like a good monster. The characters are constantly confronted with new, fascinating creatures. There’s a giant crab hiding under the sand, a boulder that turns out to be a bug, and some basically Pokémon things: a grass cat not named Sprigatito and a turtle with aloe vera growing on its back. At one point, there’s a tree made of actual monsters. It’s as deadly as you’d hope, and the designers do a fantastic job of coming up with inventive new beasts (even if the island’s ecology might not make much sense). They complement King Kong, who spends most of the show lurking in the background.

Unfortunately, in the first six episodes, this unique and fascinating world has been dulled by everyone. Everyone — from missing explorers to ferocious teenage killers to armed soldiers — feels the need to make fun of everything. I really enjoyed some of the humor, especially the goofy premise like “the long-lost island is home to giant monkeys and buff crocodiles.” But here it is overwhelming. Just to give you a feel for the dialogue, at one point, someone’s sword breaks and they exclaim, “Stabbing won’t work.”

Worse, there are actually A great people story hidden beneath all the pleasant small talk. The penultimate episode focuses on Kong, delving into an important and heartbreaking part of his past. It has a human quality to it, and she’s gracious, likable, and doesn’t crack a joke every other sentence. Shockingly, it makes TV better. The episode also set up a great finale, which included a particularly vicious monster fighting a big bad guy that was slowly revealed over the course of the season. It’s like a good King Kong movie boiled down to two animated episodes.

The rest of the season is a question. Good world-building isn’t enough to overshadow obnoxious dialogue and unlikable characters. In an average monster movie, they’d be easy to miss because most of the attention is on the big guys. But here, humans are the main focus throughout six episodes, relegating the funniest parts of the show to the background. And King Kong is too big.

Skull Island is live on Netflix.

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