Coming off the success of his indie hit The Kings of Summer, Jordan Vogt-Roberts tackles a huge existing property with Kong: Skull Island. The newest adaptation of Kong follows a government organization called Monarch who set out on an expedition to uncharted territories to find new life. With the help of military personnel, a hired mercenary, and an acclaimed photojournalist, they set out on an adventure. Upon their rocky arrival they’re met by the beast himself as well as many other monstrous creatures lurking around the land. With limited supplies, the remaining crew must make their way through the jungle if they have any chance of surviving.
Never boring but rarely exciting, Kong: Skull Island features a stellar cast which includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, and Brie Larson. Unfortunately this cast doesn’t have a lot to do as the majority of the film consists of shots with the characters jaws dropping and their eyes going big. John C Reilly puts in solid work as a comedic relief for a film that struggles to find a specific tone, altering from gritty action to awkward comedy that rarely lands. It’s hard to root for anyone with so little development in the characters. When getting wiped out one by one we feel nothing towards them.
The action set pieces are fun for short periods of time, even Kong in his newly augmented size doesn’t wow the audience enough. For a film about humans stuck on an island with mutated creatures you would think the stakes would be higher, instead Skull Island lacks urgency and sputters in between action scenes. The monsters Kong goes up against are generic and show no threat to him. Though we see Kong more than Godzilla, what we get isn’t enough to take our attention off the poor dialogue and constant exposition that’s dished out.
Kong: Skull Island doesn’t have the spark from its human and non-human characters to make this a fulfilling blockbuster. Much like 2015’s Jurassic World, Skull Island has just enough in it to make it a worthwhile investment at the theaters. Like the majority of monster movies, providing a human perspective is necessary to show the scope of the story but can result in watered down characters thanks to the split in screen time. Vogt-Roberts captures the island well, providing shots of shock and awe. The editing is quick and often jarring as they try to sync it with classics from the ’70s. Kong: Skull Island mirrors the 2014 Godzilla with a famous monster standing on the sidelines while hollow, one dimensional characters overstay their welcome on screen.