Blunder Mifflin: “The Belko Experiment” Plays It Too Safe

For films in the “survivor of a fatal free-for-all amongst friends and/or family wins” genre, you either go big, or go home.

You know the type of person who just coasts through life and never bothers to hone their potential? That’s The Belko Experiment. It’s a movie that meets the minimum requirements to be entertaining – nothing more, nothing less. It has got very agile pacing and an abundance of violence, but its blatant conventionalism derails what is overall a decent ride.

Honestly, this is one of the rare movies that might have gotten a much needed jolt of energy if there were actually MORE disgusting deaths. I’m not saying there had to be any torture scenes, or close-up shots of someone’s intestines dangling out of their lower abdomen as they crawl around grasping at the increasingly elusive tendrils of life.

I’m just saying if there are eighty people in an enclosed office building and thirty of them need to die within two hours (in the name of a social experiment), I don’t need ninety percent of those deaths coming in a combination of an executive and his lackeys lining people up and shooting them in the back of the head, followed by explosive implants blowing out brain stems because not enough people were killed during the set amount of time.

There’s a disconcerting lack of creativity here, replaced only by an eerie sense of “realism” in how the test subjects in the experiment operate under duress. I’m not saying a bunch of white collar office workers should turn into MacGyver, but I would rather scratch my head and wonder how John C. McGinley made the chainsaw machine gun from Gears of War than see two separate sequences of clinical precision that sucks a lot of the fun out of the air.

Movies like this are a real opportunity to stray from the path of normalcy and show true madness. This should have been an event where people were sharpening the ends of brooms and impaling each other. It takes place in an office building for crying out loud – can someone explain how John Wick: Chapter 2 ended up with more stationary-related kills than this movie!?

A relentless pace and the convenience of guns and the explosive implants makes the death toll rise extremely quickly and before you know it, the movie has narrowed down the living to a handful of the “bigger” names in the cast. It’s a process that’s breathtakingly quick – if you blink you might miss a death – and for that, I’m thankful. The Belko Experiment‘s saving grace is how quickly things go from zero to a hundred (or should I say eighty to one, hehe).

I can’t be the only one who imagined a far more chaotic movie than this one, but for what it’s worth, The Belko Experiment is still a mostly enjoyable and occasionally suspenseful horror flick. I just think there was some serious potential here to think outside the box, and what we got was the opposite of that.

Monsters, Inc: “Kong: Skull Island” Knows What Its Strengths Are

Godzilla, this is most certainly not!

In 2014, Godzilla tried to be something deeper than most of the monster-based movies that came before it, only to waste valuable time failing at character development and trying to be cute by refusing to show Godzilla in his entirety for a good portion of the film in the name of building suspense and *blows raspberry*.

Kong: Skull Island goes almost the opposite direction, but the irony is that this movie has pretty much the same amount of character development while consistently maintaining at least twice the fun and excitement as the underwhelming Godzilla.

A talented cast (namely Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson) does get criminally underutilized with the soaring exception of a phenomenal John C. Reilly, although who really cares when we can see a massive spider terrorizing Vietnam War soldiers, or Kong violently wrestling a monstrous lizard from the depths of hell into deadly submission?

This is a movie that wants us to ogle at its visual effects and in a world where we increasingly take CGI and the like for granted, it’s worth noting Kong: Skull Island absolutely nails its visuals. I don’t think there was a single shot that took me out of the movie, which is not a universal truth in films even now. Plus, unlike Godzilla, this takes place in a colorful tropical location as opposed to a drab and rainy urban environment.

If you’re gonna make a movie, this is one of the right ways to do it. Not every good movie needs to be a candidate for prestigious awards. It’s definitely better to know what your strengths are rather than trying to be something you’re not.

Does that mean it’s impossible to make a monster movie that has a strong story and solid character development? Of course not. But maybe that’s not what’s important for these types of films anyway.

In a lot of ways, I feel like Kong: Skull Island managed to “Marvel” itself – in a good way. You know, that magical balance of action, comedy, and pacing that doesn’t feel rushed, but – perhaps more importantly – doesn’t drag and drag. In those aspects, this movie absolutely nails it. It’s almost two hours long, but boy does it fly by.

It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes character development doesn’t matter. I mean, if we’re really being honest with ourselves here, do the humans actually matter in a budding franchise featuring gargantuan beasts like Godzilla and King Kong? Maybe, but maybe not. I think what’s more important here is that while Kong: Skull Island may have the same plot/character depth and technical accomplishments as an entry in the dreaded Transformers franchise, the difference between the two is that Kong: Skull Island is actually really fun to watch.

Plus, let’s not make the mistake of underselling this movie. It’s not just fun – there are some real moments of genuine tension and suspense here that comes from a combination of everything discussed above as well as a terrifying plethora of monsters… like the aforementioned giant spider. When I say giant, I’m saying this motherfucker was like multiple stories tall. So disturbing.

The atmosphere in this movie is very well done and overall it’s hard to argue against the idea that this is a legitimately entertaining movie. Despite its misuse of a very talented cast and a lame script, I will continue to put forth my argument that a film must prioritize its strengths based on its content. I don’t necessarily think it would have been a good thing if Kong: Skull Island had the same character depth as, say, Manchester by the Sea.

In the end, Kong has his fun and so do we. What else matters?