Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
My thoughts on King Kong have been rocky, and I literally mean.... rocky. Coming from someone who still has never seen the original 1933 classic, my first encounter with the iconic monster came from Peter Jackson's 2005 remake, and I found that endeavor extremely bloated, boring, completely stupid in all the wrong ways, and 100% inconsistent in tone (should have been intentionally campy like the best of monster movies but was instead filmed like a LOTR-styled 3-hour epic). When I heard that a new Kong movie would be made and would be part of the planned cinematic MonsterVerse with Godzilla, I also cringed at that idea because my thoughts on the 2014 Godzilla film were "meh" at best (you know your film is a mess when Godzilla is only in the film for 5 minutes).
But I still had optimism for this Kong movie. The trailers were different from the other Kong films, and it had freaking Samuel L. Jackson. Sounds promising, right????
It turns out that this was the Kong movie I was looking for. Instead of retelling the same old Kong story each and every time (and again, I haven't seen the original, so hopefully that one's good and makes the remake suck even harder), they've decided to tell a completely different story about Kong and how he handles and treats people who come across his mysterious island. It's brilliantly set during the Vietnam War era which leads our characters into grittier attitudes and situations compared to past takes on the story but still has the charm and tone of what makes the monster movie genre a total blast to watch. And the best part??? Kong has much more screentime than Godzilla, and every sequence the beast is in is a total blast. The CGI is spectacular, and he provides great entertainment.
There's other monsters on the island as well, monsters even more intimidating than Kong, and they're also visualized great, leading up to an extravagant climax that was worth the price of admission.
Let's talk about the characters, as they're the most divisive part of this movie from all the reviews I've read. When I look at a monster movie, the characters tend to be on the back burner, and what makes or breaks the movie in entertainment value is the cool monster stuff. Not that characters are a bad thing, and yes, you need people to carry out a movie, but they oftentimes get in the way of what we're paying to see (look to 2014 Godzilla and Jurassic Park for examples). Thankfully, these characters add much-needed depth to the Kong legend, leading to thought-provoking discussions about who the real monster is, the humans, or Kong. Sure, Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are underused in this movie, but they're presence felt needed and I enjoyed seeing these talented actors in a fun movie. Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilley are all terrific in what they're given, obviously, and help elevate Kong: Skull Island from an average monster B-movie to an awesome, entertaining, and occasionally thought-provoking blockbuster.
I loved every minute of it. It's ridiculously fun like monster movies should, there's still plenty of discussion about man vs. nature, the action sequences and visual effects are spectacular, I loved that the movie was filmed on location, the cinematography is phenomenal in how it recreates 70s war movies, and it's a crazy thrill ride from beginning to end.
After Kong: Skull Island, I definitely looking forward to the development of this planned MonsterVerse. And speaking of monsters, I will attempt to start my Godzilla challenge this weekend, so expect a review of the original 1954 Godzilla soon........
"You are going to tell me everything that I should know... or I blow you away."