If 2014’s Godzilla taught studios anything, it’s that monsters make money. That’s seems bananas, right? Like...incredibly bananas.
Kong: Skull Island is the 1st movie in 12 years (wow, 12 years? Really?) to tackle the greatest giant gorilla in all of fictional history. This movie serves as a prequel to Kong’s eventual brawl with the King of the Monsters in 2020’s Godzilla vs. King Kong. At its most basic, Kong: Skull Island follows a group of people who venture to this “mythical” island off the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately for them, this island is anything but mythical, and now these people have to find their way out, while also being under the mercy of both the giant creatures that inhabited the island and the King of the Island, the iconic great ape Kong.
There’s surprising a lot to like in Kong. First, the actors were fairly decent in their roles, specifically the characters played by Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Not only is it cool to see 3 members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in one movie (Hiddleston plays Loki, Jackson plays Nick Fury and Larson will be playing Captain Marvel), but they all were functional in their roles. Hiddleston plays a fairly reluctant but awesome tracker who can apparently use any weapon that comes into his hands. Jackson was arguably one of the more invested characters in the film. He plays a disgruntled war veteran who wants to fight, and took the advantage of this expedition to finally blow something up. He does come across as a bit unbelievable, but Jackson makes him still fun. And, no surprise, King Kong was awesome every time he showed up on screen. Toby Kebbell is great at motion capture characters. He did it in remarkable fashion in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he did again in Warcraft, and he does it again here. Kong is massive. You see on the screen that he’s massive. And when we say “massive” we mean that Godzilla is gonna have his hands full. And every time Kong is on screen, wrecking helicopters and creatures alike, it’s pretty sweet. The action is exciting and crisp, all in the name of the King. And, more impressively, there are some great shots in the film. One of the best shots in the film is when the helicopters are flying into the sunset and then, Kong rises in front of them. The contrasting shadows on the sunset and Kong’s massive figure is just one of many impressive shots that overload this visually impressive film.
Unfortunately, for Kong: Skull Island, things begin to fall apart when the characters start talking. Except for John C. Reilly, who’s brilliant in everything he does in the film, the film’s hokey acting and terrible dialogue (“is that a monkey?”) really destroys the film. Even worse, the pacing issues wrecked the film. Yes, Kong comes out fairly quickly in the film, but then he comes out here and there, having small moments in the film. However, following those scenes were long, drawn out scenes with the humans talking and interacting. These scenes slow the film to a grinding halt, and even with the King of Skull Island thrown in to spice up the film, the film never really goes back to the fast-paced start of the film. The final act of the film seemed to be rushed very quickly, and with a fairly pretty sweet battle at the very end. It doesn’t make slogging through the more than hour long fest of poor dialogue and cardboard bland acting worth it, but it’s still fun. And on the subject of the end, it just…happens. There really isn’t a triumphant moment to say that the movie should and has ended. It just happens. Obviously, but spoilers, they leave and we get another good shot of the King of Apes, but then…that’s it.
Even with its negatives, Kong: Skull Island is still an extremely fun and entertaining film. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts delivered a visually stunning romp with some great action and campy dialogue. It’s a great film to go see at the theaters, especially with the prospect of the King Kong going toe-to-toe with Godzilla coming on the horizon. If the idea of the King of Apes throwing down with the King of the Monsters warms your soul, go see this. We may not get a decent film in the name of the King like this again.