What is it about? Set in the 70s during the Vietnam War, Kong: Skull Island follows a group of explorers including: ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), angry and vengeful colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and government official Bill Randa (John Goodman). They venture into an uncharted island only to find a giant (and I mean GIANT) ape named Kong, who’s king on the island, and numerous hostile and terrifying creatures.
How is it? 5.5/10 Kong: Skull Island is fun, stylish, and looks great, but is severely lacking in the people department. It’s a decent popcorn B-movie where you get to see a giant ape beat up a giant lizard, but not much else. Oh, and don’t forget, they are always setting up for a sequel because this monster movie takes place in the same universe as Godzilla (2014)!
The Ups I have to give this movie credit for its cinematography. The camera work is very stylish and lots of fun to look at, as well as the colors in this movie. It has a warm, tropical, 70s tropical hue, which is displayed excellently alongside the giant monkey.
Its soundtrack is also cool, chock-full of 70s music that assist the tone of Kong.
Also, it doesn’t take itself too seriously: you came to see an ape smash things, and you get to see an ape smash things.
John C. Reilly is a standout character in Kong. He plays Hank Marlow, a WWII pilot stranded on the island since the 40s. His character steals the show, has clear motivations, gets a bunch of development, and has a surprisingly emotional payoff.
Kong himself, when on screen, is awesome. Watching him beat up other creatures on the island never gets old, and this movie in particular shows just how huge he is.
The other creatures on the island are cool as well. They provide for some great set-pieces, and are interesting and unique enough to keep you from getting bored. Also, seeing the creatures pick off the team members one by one is entertaining.
Finally, the CGI is fantastic. The work on Kong, the creatures, and the island’s unique, tropical features is great: it’s super realistic, nice to look at, and gives you a sense of scale between the humans and the creatures.
The Downs Now, here’s the main flaw with Kong: you’re shown a giant monkey, but then said giant monkey leaves, leaving you with a bunch of explorers you are given no reason to care about. These characters are paper-thin: Tom Hiddleston is tracker/mercenary/butt-kicker who works for money but…yeah that’s about it– you have no idea why he’s there; Brie Larson is an ANTI-WAR photographer, who really shouldn’t be coming on the mission; John Goodman is your typical off-his-rocker, been-waiting-years-for-this guy; Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson…this time, it got old; and finally, Toby Kebbell plays a soldier, who makes some significantly stupid decisions. This is a giant waste of a great cast. They even try humor with these people, but it really doesn’t work, and the vast majority of the jokes fall short.
In addition, the first 25-30 minutes of exposition are pretty boring indeed, and there’s a bunch of cheesy dialogue throughout.
Lastly, the editing in the first half of the movie can be pretty choppy, and sometimes gets hard to look at.
Overall, Kong: Skull Island gives you a fun, stylish, and action-packed B-movie that has characters no one cares about nor wants to.