Kong: Skull Island starts off fairly slow. Many characters are hastily introduced, poorly handled and then quickly forgotten once they meet their demise or the movie ends. An organisation called Monarch has secured government funding in their bid to lead an expedition to a recently discovered island in the Pacific Ocean. They’re in search of new species, and looking to quickly put together a team in order to get their before the Russians.
Samuel L Jackson stands out as Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard, reluctant at the thought of returning home following the Vietnam war, who jumps when given the chance of joining the team on their exploration mission. After Kong manages to trash most of his helicopters, along with their occupants, Jackson turns into the determined asshole out for revenge and manages to provide a lot of the movies energy and humour at times when it’s sorely lacking among his co-stars.
John C Reilly also shines as the unfortunate World War 2 solider, stranded on the hellish Skull Island for nearly 30 years and missing the wife he left behind and the son he’s never met. He acts as the guide for the island newbies, helping them to get across to the island to their pick up point and wondering if he’ll ever be able to make it off alive and return to his family.
Sadly, both Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson fail to make much of an impact at all. Hiddleston’s smooth explorer/tracker never actually seems to do much of either and Larson’s prize winning photographer manages to take a lot of photographs but doesn’t do much else other than look pretty and have Kong take a liking to her.
The Apocalypse Now theme also got a bit boring for me. While helicopters flying in formation with doors open, music blasting out all look very cool, as do the glorious sunset backdrops, it all starts to wear a little thin after a while and just didn’t really do it for me.
Luckily though, the star of the show is magnificent. Kong is definitely the god on this island – powerful, menacing, terrifying, and at times compassionate. He is a fantastic example of modern movie technology. Every time he is on screen, whether he’s battling the pesky human intruders, knocking seven shades out of the islands nastier inhabitants, or just striding around the island – he’s extremely impressive.
We know that this is all part of a brand new monster universe of movies, first introduced to us in Gareth Edwards 2014 version of Godzilla, and at some point both Godzilla and Kong are set to face off. There’s an interesting post-credits scene which builds on this universe and hints at what’s to come, so be sure to stick around for that. And if all of that is handled as well as the monster encounters in this movie are, it’s going to be a highly enjoyable ride.