Kong: Skull Island

In-Depth Review

Kong: Skull Island is the latest iteration of the King King story, undertaken with a new look at Kong and new characters with new motives. Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings of Summer) directed this epic; which hosts a very strong cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L Jackson and John C Reilly.

The first two things that struck me in Kong were the music and the pace. The music is a massive part of this movie, suicide squad comes to mind in a “too bad theirs seemed forced and this is a good way to do it” type of way. The music is heavily applied, cements it in its time period (immediate post-Vietnam war) and also brings another dimension to the tone. In other words it’s done in an entertaining and clever manner.

The pace is also very fast and notable, maybe slightly jarring at first but once the film finds its groove it smooths out and isn’t as noticeable. I enjoyed the pace though, it suits the style of the movie really well and even though on the short side for a blockbuster at just under 2 hours I wasn’t bored for a second. Maybe the pace hindered development of some elements, character development and motives, but overall I didn’t have an issue with it.

The action is as it should be for a film like this, big and spectacular, something that really should be seen in the cinema to fully appreciate. There are some really cool scenes that I was truly impressed with. The monsters, Kong especially, all look brilliant and are of course the main catalyst for action.

The characters and performances in the film are very good, maybe not as good as they could’ve been, but I was quite happy with the balance of the film in this aspect. Some of the more prominent characters should have really had more impact but the supporting cast of the film really shine. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are good as expected but their characters unfortunately lack the depth that they needed to really resonate. Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman are also good, maybe a little better in terms of understanding characters from a point of view, but are really surrogates for the story to be told more than anything. 

The stand outs for me were John C Reilly, who single handedly elevates this film. Shea Whigham is great with a nod to Jason Mitchell for their chemistry and Toby Kebbell puts forward a solid performance in an understated role. Thomas Mann comes through as a conscious character, someone the audience can truly relate to, the dialogue doesn’t do this for him either, it really is due to his performance.

Based on the trailers John C Reilly was the main draw point for me for this film, mainly because I wanted the adventure and action of a King Kong movie with the humour his character was offering in the trailer. However, his role was much more than I could have hoped for and really the heart of the film, a truly brilliant performance and showcase of Reilly’s abilities in both comedy and drama.

Kong: Skull Island is a success in my eyes, nothing mind blowing but I went in hoping for a decent blockbuster with good action, good humour and good characters and came out really impressed. A very solid foray into big budget filmmaking for Vogt-Roberts and just a great film to watch in the cinema.

-Dave Stewart

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