I’ll start off by saying I enjoyed this more than Godzilla.
That’s not to say I disliked Godzilla, but every time something interesting or a really cool monster moment surfaces, it kept cutting away. Godzilla delivers in the finale, but what Kong does differently is that it isn’t afraid to embrace those monster moments. Right off the bat, Kong is showcased front and center and it is pleasing eye-candy.
Kong: Skull Island is action-packed, and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has a keen eye for action. Cinematographer Larry Fong and the hard working special-effects artists produce some remarkable visuals. Kong combats a squad of helicopters who are swooping in formation. Vogt-Roberts doesn’t overuse the slow-motion sequences, but he uses them at the right moment in the middle of the action. It never really cheapened all of the action set- pieces, it actually enhanced the experience. Lots of great creatures too, some deadly looking lizards things, a giant octopus, a giant spider, and some pre-historic looking birds. Kong himself looked fabulous. He’s obviously the misunderstood monster as he is only protecting his turf and territory. He is ginormous, bigger than ever and it makes a difference. Kudos to the VFX team, there is a sense of scale and weight to Kong and all the other creatures in the film.
The actors do their job commendably. Not much is fleshed out with any of these characters to be honest, but they do bring some gravitas to the film. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman do their best to make their characters believable. Jackson in particular can be compared to Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Against all logic and odds, he’s obsessed with his mission. John C. Reilly provides a lot of humor into the film as he is a WWII pilot, stranded on Skull Island for almost thirty years. Some characters are really there for exposition, particularly the short, not much to do roles played by Corey Hawkins and Tian Jing.
I do want to point out that I appreciated Hiddleston and Larson’s relationship in the film. While not fleshed out at all, it wasn’t some typical Hollywood, forced down your throat romance, rather just a mutual respect for one another. Larson’s character is also involved in the action, useful at times, and not just some damsel in distress. Some of the supporting roles of the soldiers played by Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, and Thomas Mann aren’t as expendable as one would typically expect them to be so that was a nice surprise as well.
It’s no secret that Legendary and WB are creating a MonsterVerse with Kong, Godzilla, and all the other Toho creatures. They’ve got some franchise building to do, and for corporate film making, this movie goes through the checkmarks very well. Vogt-Roberts does a good job not making it feel like a “filler” film to fill in the gaps, as a matter of fact it does feel like it stands on its own for the most part. He moves the story along from A to Z with a lot of eye candy action. The choice of music and the color palette he choose feels like a Vietnam/70’s film. It does what it needs to do and it’s a fun way to kill off two hours.
Obviously stay through the credits. It’s a nice tease.