Aidan F’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of the 30 Catch-Ups Challenge 2017 - Part 4: Don't Mess with the Big Monkey's Island
I am all for some big, blockbuster entertainment. And what better way to do that than a good ol' fashioned monster rumble movie. But the trouble is that Kong: Skull Island tries to tick this box but flounders in its attempt to create interesting characters and is about as generic and predictable as you can imagine. I found it completely lifeless, drained of all the colour, charm and fun that the original King Kong from the 1930's offered and even to an extent Peter Jackson's version, despite that film getting a lot of flack which I think is a bit unwarranted. And I know I shouldn't be comparing Kong: Skull Island to its predecessors, but inevitably, how can you not?
Let's start positively; Kong has still got it! His thunderous brawls still pack a punch to the stomach. This includes his introduction where he is revealed immediately by smashing helicopters out of the sky. Not that I find that a bad thing, a big issue with Gareth Edwards' Godzilla was that it took the mickey by refusing to show the king of all monsters up until 1 hour and a half mark. Other than Kong, some performers stick out to be memorable enough even if the characters they are given are underwritten. Brie Larson does a decent enough job as an anti-war photographer, even if she is two dimensionally valiant. And John C. Reilly steals the show as a joyous, manic and slightly inept version of Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
Everything else though is completely forgettable, sloppy, and boring to sit through. No other characters are given any emotional weight, meaning or impact on the story and more importantly, they have very thin arcs altogether so it makes it impossible to relate to them. Tom Hiddleston is only there as the film's pretty boy, as does Larson to make the film more handsome. But as a rugged, posh Indiana Jones archetype, he doesn't suit the role at all. Samuel L. Jackson is simply playing a watered down version of himself. Shea Whigham of Boardwalk Empire fame is disposed of in the most hilariously pointless and pathetic way possible. And you can't do that to John Goodman! Where's your taste, cmon!
Even the tender parts of Kong's relationship with Larson or Hiddleston feels like it's rushed. There's a particularly impromptu moment on a mountain side with Hiddleston and Larson where they try to have a meaningful connection with him which the film desperately needs more of. But all in all, that lasts for about a few seconds before Kong goes back to get these pesky invaders off his island. In fact, Kong doesn't show up for a good chunk of the second act meaning that the main attraction, the sole reason for why people paid to see the film, is absent for that amount of time and we are stuck with the boring slates that are the set of human characters.
I was just not impressed with this; like at all. The clunky and seamlessly endless reams of dialogue were a complete turn-off as soon as I heard Reilly bicker to Larson and Hiddleston about the Skullcrawlers. And even then, the soundtrack isn't even that good. Look, I love 60's/70's classic rock, but if I can buy all these songs on a cheap compilation CD, I would just do that and not bother with the film. So far this MonsterVerse isn't turning out the way I want it to.