Kong: Skull Island is in many respect a generic action film that focuses on effects over writing and character development, but I was certainly entertained by the film. I was really blown away by the effects I this film. In my opinion the effects of this film completely blow away the effects of Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005), which won an Oscar for visual effects. I was also pleasantly surprised that this film developed its own story rather than simply being a remake of the original, which has already been remade twice. The main disappointment of this film comes from the acting though. It has an all-star cast, but there is very little character development, which makes it hard to relate or feel for any of them. For me the best aspect of the film was the Vietnam-era setting. By setting the film during this era it allowed for the filmmakers to make allusions to great Vietnam films and have an excellent soundtrack. This film is certainly not a must see or anything, but is certainly entertaining.
This film’s cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, and many others. Despite all this talent though the performances are pretty lackluster. I think a combination of a poor script and a shortage of screen time played a big role, but it is still disappointing to see bad performances from these very talented actors. All the characters are very one-dimensional, seemingly all having one singular aspect of motivation that doesn’t change throughout. The stand-out performance comes from John C. Reilly, who plays a World War II pilot stranded on the island for decades. His character is mostly there for comic relief and exposition though. The film simply had too many characters in it, and suffered because of it.
There have been so many remakes in recent years it was a relief to see a movie develop its own story based on a past film, rather making an exact copy. The film has many obvious allusion to the original King Kong (1933), but they are subtle and are not integral to the story. This incarnation also made Kong, the giant ape, much more of a character than in the past films. Kong probably has the most development of any character in this film despite being a giant ape that doesn’t speak. At first Kong appears to be a danger and the main antagonist to our human characters, but we learn that Kong’s initial destruction is a protective measure and is essential to the survival of all those on the island.
This film is definitely entertaining if you turn your brain off and don’t expect too much. I am irritated that there is a “Monsterverse” franchise is likely going to develop from this film and Godzilla (2014). This film has an interesting story with the Vietnam-era setting with comments and allusion to the United States’ action during the Vietnam conflict. This should be a stand-alone film. I believe that by trying to make multiple films about a giant ape and a giant lizard monster that you take away any aspect of interesting story telling and substance to the film. This film obviously has some major flaws, but is a fun action film with some impressive effects.
Here is a good review for the film.