joecamel’s review published on Letterboxd:
I guess this is a controversial opinion but I would take this one over Peter Jackson's King Kong any day.
I am willing to admit that there are a lot of things the '05 version does way better than this one. In fact I could even admit that it's probably a better movie overall. However there's this thing called "personal taste" and this movie just does it for me.
This movie is a total fucking blast! It doesn't pull it's punches and delivers fully with the fan service and action. So many cool, fun set pieces that I just adored. Loved the Vietnam War era inspired scenery and music (even though this movie does indulge in some harmful stereotypes about Asian women (but also does the opposite kind of) ). It's just got this very fun and vibrant feel to it and it never really hits a lull or becomes boring at any part. All the Kong action and creature designs here are top notch and this definitely is the most kaiju-est of all the American versions of Kong.
The story isn't great but I actually like the set up here a lot. Establish the characters, and dump them into a dangerous environment that they must escape from. It's like Green Room but with a giant ape and some grim reaper looking ass lizards. I think the characters are kind of the weakest link here. There are so many of them and they try to give them all at least some development. Which leads to none of them being very well developed at all.
I really felt like Samuel L. Jackson's character in particular could've been developed better. Jackson does a great job with the role but his character's motivation felt lacking. He's supposed to be some kind of war obsessed lunatic out to avenge his fallen soldiers. Which is a cool idea for sure, but the way they introduced him in his first scene made me think they were going the exact opposite direction with that character. Whenever his character started ranting about needing to kill Kong for revenge it just felt so pointless and out of nowhere. I felt similarly about John C. Riley's character. He has this very cool sounding back story that we don't get to see much of. I understand that there probably wasn't any room to fit that in but it just felt weird that I was supposed to get invested in his backstory as it was being explained to me through exposition. Then there's Tom Hiddleston's character who barely does anything and is so underdeveloped that I'm not even sure why he was there. I guess just to be a white male Mary Sue but we already had a white female Mary Sue, so I don't know how necessary it was.
It's a dumb blockbuster though, I went in with very low expectations. I don't expect these kinds of movies to be great works of cinematic craftsmanship. For the type of movie that it is I really couldn't have asked for very much more. However my biggest gripe would be that some tighter and more purposeful writing really could've made this a lot more memorable than it already is. C'est la vie, I guess.
GODZILLA 2021!!! :) 7/10