Kong: Skull Island
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, &Derek Connolly
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, John C Reilly
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
When Legendary announced that they were handing over the reins to their newest big-budget King Kong adventure to indie & TV director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, I was cautiously optimistic. I was a big fan of his small indie movie, The Kings of Summer, but didn’t know if his skills would translate well. Then they kept announcing more and more big names for their cast – Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Toby Kebbell, etc. Surely with a cast like that, the script has to be out of this world, right? Wrong. Like the recent Godzilla remake before it (which is in a Marvel-like shared universe with this movie), Kong: Skull Island is visually impressive, but lacking in three-dimensional characters.
Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla both suffer from the same problem – they follow the wrong characters for the majority of their movie. Godzilla follows Aaron Taylor Johnson’s character most of the movie when it should have followed Bryan Cranston’s through to the end. Kong follows multiple characters (I guess you could call Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston the leads), but all are outshined by the brilliant performance of John C. Reilly.
On the upside, Vogt-Roberts direction is surprisingly good for coming from such a small, character-driven film. His action is well-plotted and generally easy to follow. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the script, which tries to service too many characters at once even before Kong comes into play. After Kong shows up, there’s little character moments outside of Kong himself and John C. Reilly’s character. That’s not to say that Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson are necessarily bad in the movie. They’re just given very little to work with.
If you’re looking to turn your brain off and just watch some monster mayhem, then the 2nd half of Kong: Skull Island may just suffice. And if the movie pleasantly surprises you, you’ll be happy to know that Legendary is planning to shove much more down your throat in the near future, starting with the inevitable Kong Vs. Godzilla crossover. Like Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla before it, I’m sure the action will be nice to look at. Now if only they could solve their character problems…