Most of the time in large monster films like Transformers, Godzilla, Jurassic Park or King Kong the success of the movie depends mainly on how the creatures are presented on-screen. It’s a bonus if the movie has a good storyline to follow along with or any sign of character development. Kong: Skull Island succeeds in certain ways and lacks in other areas but that is no surprise. The money spent on the lead actors was a waste. Tom Hiddleston was completely forgettable and could have been played by any actor or possibly even a man off the street. Brie Larson was sweet and I like her as an actress. Her performance in Room was incredible, but her talents are wasted here, and it was not her fault as they didn’t give her much to do. Kong is the star, but a close second is John C. Reilly who almost steals the entire movie from the giant beast. Reilly plays Hank Marlow, a soldier from World War II that has been stranded on the island for 28 years. His much needed humor and scene stealing magnetism saves the film from being a disappointment in the memorable character department. I’ve said this before many years ago and still feel the same way, Samuel L. Jackson is in too many movies for me. I’m a fan of his best work but not all of his work. He is serviceable here, but I would have preferred giving a less active/known actor a shot with this role. He plays an Army Lieutenant Colonel that is pretending to be a version of Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick. Ho-hum; it does not have the same effect in Kong as it did in the classic book.
The action scenes on the 3D IMAX screen were magical and I recommend screening Kong on a large screen. The setup to the film and the details get lost along the way but that won’t matter to you in the end. There is a 70’s rock-n-roll theme that is present throughout to help with the time and place of the tale. It is actually pretty cool and the presentation borrows from the successful 80’s rock theme that was such a big hit with Guardians of the Galaxy. Hearing Black Sabbath’s Paranoid blaring through the speakers of the choppers while approaching the Island was perfect.
What truly makes the movie special is the inclusion of the other creatures that inhabit the mysterious and beautiful isle. The Kong fighting sequences are more thrilling than most movies in this genre and much better than the boring time wasting fights in all of the superhero movies. The length of the film is not atrocious as it can be in these big budget action offerings and I would actually liked to have seen more about the return home for the characters that lived through the harrowing experience on Skull Island.
The Bottom Line: Kong is a rocking good time and it’s a visually thrilling adventure worth your time and money.
MovieMark Grade: B