Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
Composer: Henry Jackman
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham
More info: IMDb
Tagline: Awaken the King
Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.
My rating: 7/10
Will I watch it again? Yeah.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD....YARRRRR!!!
This is in no way a remake of the '33 movie. It's its own thing and stands alone so leave Kong's history at home when you see this.
The short? It's fun. The special effects are fantastic. Kong gets a lot more screen time than you would expect and his fight scenes are a blast. I love a jungle setting and this picture's set almost entirely on Skull Island (goody gumdrops). It's not uncommon for these giant monster movies to fill the cast with characters you don't care about. SKULL ISLAND gives you a few that you do like. Forget Hiddleston and Larson, two of the three-ish leads. They're both forgettable. Samuel Jackson does his Sam Jackson thing which is fine. John Goodman is great except he's not given much of anything to do once they're on the island and that's a damn shame. The picture would've benefited from more Goodman. I thought John C. Reilly was the best of the humans plus he's the only one that carries some emotional weight (that 8mm bit that ran at the beginning of the closing credits had me all choked up). I haven't seen her in anything until now. She might be a good actor but I'd never know from this picture. Maybe it's her character in the way she was written or her dialogue but she wasn't that good. When the gang come upon a boneyard (with hundreds of giant bones on top of the soil) that includes the remains of Kong's parents, she says something along the lines of, "I've taken too many pictures of mass graves and I know a mass grave when I see one." The fuck? It's so obvious to anyone with eyes that a four year old would recognize this as a mass grave.
And that takes me to my only major beef with the picture and that's the entire boneyard scene. I assume this ridiculous sequence exists to pad the film out longer with more action and to kill off a few characters they didn't need. The human actions are dumb, really dumb. I probably rolled my eyes at least four times. During this bit (which is probably ten minutes long) I started noticing other dumb shit like Hiddleston and Larson dressed in short-sleeved shirts. Earlier in the film Hiddleston is hired because he's an expert in navigating uncharted islands (which is ridiculous when you think about it) and he recites a laundry list of ways you could die. You'd think covering as much skin as possible to protect yourself from mosquitoes and such would be a very simple thing to remember, you know, being an expert and all. OK, now I'm down off my soapbox.
Some things I dug (besides Riley, Goodman and Kong)? The score was quite good. You won't come out humming any themes but it was a nice melody driven score. Setting this in the early 70s/Vietnam er was a huge plus. The action is good, exciting and fun. I LOVE the island and all of the giant critters in it that will kill your ass and it also paves the way for more monster movies with Godzilla and his buddies/enemies like Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. BTW, stay until after the credits for a small bit of exposition about this larger world of monsters. It's a good movie with some fantastic monster action and it's got a couple of memorable characters that make it all worthwhile. I liked it considerably more than the disappointing GODZILLA (2014) and you might, too, so see it before it leaves the theater.