Mark Costello’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had a total blast with this......but clearly not as much fun as Jordan Vogt-Roberts did. He directs this as if he's a kid let loose in the proverbial candy store and his enjoyment, his fun with it is all up there to see. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the opening 30 minutes of this are some of the best directed bits of cinema I've seen in a long time.
From the opening WWII dogfight played solely in audio to the wit of having both pilots be completely inept shots, to the use of superb 70s tunes to just John Goodman, there's a verve and wit to the whole thing - this is a director who is saying "I want you guys to have fun with this".
Throw in some utter visual porn in the helicopter flyover of the island......and all of that is before we even get a good luck at the titular ape. That first encounter has some gorgeous visuals, culminating in the utterly superb shot of Sam Jackson facing down a 300 foot ape as fire rains all around him.......man, I was in complete heaven with this after that.
After that utterly breathless start, the film slows down as the narrative needs it to, but the simplistic plot (team crash and have to make it off the island) means we can focus on the eye candy. All manner of other beasties crop up, some friendly, some definitely not so and each encounter, whilst not matching that first Kong scrap, still has enough pinache to it (there's even a delightfully gruesome Cannibal Holocaust reference at one point!) to delightfully entertain - no Bay-esque shaky cam and fast cutting to confuse the audience here! Throw in the mighty John C Reilly's comic relief, who didn't grate anywhere near as much as some reviews have said, and our two nominal leads, Hiddlarson as no-one is calling them, manage to sidestep the lack of any characterisation and just look cool and sexy (Larson certainly suits that 70s Farrah Fawcett haircut........!) while avoiding massive beasties. Ironically, Jackson's army colonel was the most well drawn and it was nice to see him have an obvious love for his men, rather than just be a cookie cutter 'hoo-rah' type.
CG is pretty good, but somehow never convinces its totally photo-real (although in such an obvious creature feature, should it???) and there's a nice lack of any horrible King Kong tropes such as a bestial love story to clog up the massive creature fighting narrative. All in, this was an utter blast for me - complete fun from start to finish. Compared to the uber serious and dark Godzilla (which I also quite enjoyed), this was a breath of fresh air.
Summary - just a fun ride from start to finish. The 70s setting and lack of Kong tropes helped give this a definite fresh feel to it and with the director putting his enthusiasm on screen for us all to wallow in, I couldn't help but be sucked in by the whole thing. A total blast.