Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly. It is the second modern iteration of the legendary ape (the first being the 2005 King Kong from director Peter Jackson), and it tells the story of Kong from a completely new perspective.
Set in 1973 Kong: Skull Island follows a group of scientists led by Bill Randa (Goodman) who are searching for a mythical island that he believes holds incredible secrets. His team is escorted into this unknown territory by a group of soldiers fresh off of their tour in Vietnam. This group of jarheads is lead by Preston Packard (Jackson), a man who thinks of his men and his mission ahead of anything else. To round out this intrepid troupe Randa enlists James Conrad(Hiddleston), a disillusioned former British Special Air Service Captain and Mason (Larson), a war photographer who somehow instinctively smells a story when she hears about this expedition. What they find when they reach the island will change their lives and will impact the future of the world forever.
Kong: Skull Island is one of the most fun times at the cinema I’ve had in a long time. From the gorgeous cinematography which balances beauty and terror in equal measure to the intense score, there are so many aspects going for Kong: Skull Island none more prevalent than its titular hero Kong. The legendary ape created all the way back in 1933 has never looked so impressive than he does in Kong: Skull Island. He exudes incredible levels of intensity, and it flies off the screen leaving a lasting impression. This, however, is one of the issues of the film because when Kong isn’t on screen, you miss him. Now, this isn’t on the same level as Godzilla, but there are sections of Kong: Skull Island where he isn’t there, and he’s missed, and this is due to the degree of personality Kong has throughout the film.
On the flipside of that, the personalities of the human cast are varying in their levels of impressions. Hiddleston is decent as James, another superhuman soldier that can do unbelievable actions against beasts he has never had any experience with before, there’s an element of Indiana Jones about him, it’s fun but nothing original. On the Indiana Jones part, Brie Larson’s character Mason is similar to Karen Allen; she’s fearless and funny and equally as bold as the boys, once again sadly she’s nothing new.
The more nuanced and exciting characters include Packard who is all kinds of messed up, and as usual, Jackson brings a lot of madness to his character. The best of the bunch though is easily John C. Reilly’s character Hank who has been stuck on the island for decades. He has some of the best dialogue and stops the film from taking itself too seriously. The best parts of Kong: Skull Island though are the action set pieces, they are stunning and awe-inspiring when you are watching Kong rip other monsters in brutal fashion.
When all is said and done Kong has once again cemented himself as King, Kong: Skull Island is a fun, but flawed film and if I can recommend one more thing to audiences it is this: stay until after the credits. You won’t regret it.