Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★

The first act had me swooning. It was like Kong via Crichton. The assembly of diverse personalities and professions is always an attractive gateway for me. Sadly, these characters are paper thin. Hiddleston, likable as he is, has nothing to do but Tough Guy 101. Brie Larson plays a war photographer (oh excuse me, ANTI-war photographer) and has to dish out some atrocious dialogue ("I've photographed enough mass graves to know when I see one." OH FOR FUCKS SAKE!). Shea Whigham is criminally underused. Even the deeper characters are severely marginalized as the film plays out, like John Goodman's megalomaniacal explorer. Samuel L. Jackson is the only one who gets a full, solid arc. John C. Reilly, God bless him, is always an inviting presence, but they betray the character by trying to make him funny. Clumsy improv moments keep wiggling into the movie and they're always unpleasant. They also try to shoehorn backstories into the ensemble as though they realized midway through production how shallow everyone was.

The best character in Kong: Skull Island is Skull Island. The creatures, the indigenous people, and Kong himself deliver the thrills and chills. I love the design of the skull crawlers and the big spiders, and the Apocalypse Now aesthetic is an awesome direction to go in. I also love well-crafted action spectacle, which this movie has in spades. It's fun, but it could have and should have been better.

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