My history with the beast known as King Kong is somewhat limited-with the exception of an abridged novel given to me by my parents when I was young, one which gave me enough information about the legendary monster to understand who he was & what he was all about, I never laid eyes on anything else related to Kong as the years passed, which included any & all of his big screen iterations. As a result, Kong: Skull Island is my first true, start-to-finish theatrical experience with one of history's most infamous fictional characters.
The human cast, filled with talent in the form of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell and even two N. W. A. members from 2015's Straight Outta Compton (Corey Hawkins & Jason Mitchell), all do a decent job but can't help but play second fiddle to the titular ape. John C. Reilly, however, does deliver quite possibly the film's best performance as a pilot who's been stranded on Skull Island for decades, giving his character a wealth of quirk & humor, though not every joke that escapes his mouth sticks the landing.
As for the film itself, the effects on the various creatures, most notably Kong himself, are truly impressive, while the various monster battles erupt with intensity. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, last seen at the helm of 2013's underrated coming-of-age, surprisingly hilarious The Kings of Summer, gives Kong: Skull Island the look & feel of a 1970s-era war film, appropriate of the film's 1970s-era time period, the same era as the Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange-starring King Kong. Unfortunately, the dialogue & soundtrack sometimes have a tendency to reference that decade a bit much, a slightly annoying, unnecessarily constant reminder that this film is most definitely not set in 2017. The soundtrack in particular occasionally reaches Suicide Squad levels of jumpiness, with a different classic rock hit seemingly every few minutes, though the reliable Henry Jackman's score is, as always, well done.
Kong: Skull Island is the second entry into Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse, following 2014's underwhelming Godzilla, and much like the issues present with that film it clearly shows that the studio knows how to bring these giants to life while completely disregarding the rest of the cast. I only hope that future entries will either help develop the latter, or completely push our beloved monsters to the forefront as they should. Kong: Skull Island is worth a view to see the titular ape in all his glory, and has just enough firepower to ensure I'll see whatever sequel, spinoff or Godzilla vs. Kong (scheduled for release May 29, 2020) punchfest the studio will throw at me.