Kong: Skull Island delivers fast-paced, explosive action. From its impressive roster of actors to its level of originality, the film provides a different, but modern retelling of Merian C. Cooper’s and Edgar Wallace’s famous story.
The film’s ensemble cast is perfect, but character development is sadly too shallow to be taken seriously. Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World) and Brie Larson (Room) demonstrate decent chemistry together during their brief exchanges of dialogue. However, their character development is not that significant or impactful, almost rendering them as mere secondary characters. Otherwise, Hiddleston and Larson are not bad casting choices.
John C. Reilly, though, is hilarious as a World War II pilot who’s been stranded on Skull Island for 28 years. Although his performance is akin to Tom Hanks’ from the Cast Away, Reilly still delivers his own flavour of light-hearted humour. He demonstrates his comic prowess at various times in the film, especially when he’s trying to catch up with recent history while interacting with the main characters.
As for John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson, they provide an almost chilling presence for the film. Both actors, especially Jackson, prove how dark and frightening their portrayals can really be — especially towards each other. A prominent example is one brief scene where Jackson’s and Goodman’s characters discuss the true intentions behind leading an expedition on Skull Island. Goodman brings a certain subtlety to his role, reminding us of his ominous, even scary, demeanor from 10 Cloverfield Lane. Jackson’s performance is both intense and commanding. It embodies the same appeal of past characters he portrayed in Pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight.
The first major battle where Kong dukes it out with military helicopters is visually stunning. This brutal showdown between man and beast is shot in the most breathtaking way possible. Unlike its predecessors, the film takes the story to a whole new direction. Instead of dinosaurs, Kong’s newest adversaries are giant, meat-eating, lizards called Skullcrawlers. The film doesn’t shy away from depicting colossal fights between Kong and these monstrous creatures. If anything, the action achieves its most epic state during the final battle where Kong fights the biggest of the Skullcrawlers.
The film’s originality is especially demonstrated through Kong’s subtle compassion for Larson’s character. Unlike the relationship between Naomi Watts’ character and Kong from Peter Jackson’s version, Kong: Skull Island strives away from forming a similar relationship between Larson and the Kong in this film. Instead, the story focuses more on the giant ape being a force of nature with unrelenting power. From his loud roars to beating his chest in defiance, this film’s Kong is made to be fierce and, as a result, becomes as awesome as ever.
Henry Jackman (Captain America: Civil War) composes an impressive music score. It perfectly conveys the intense atmosphere for the battles in the film and the more soft, soothing tones during Kong’s peaceful encounter with Hiddleston’s and Larson’s characters. Still, it felt like half the music in the film heavily relied on rock ‘n’ roll songs from the story’s era rather than fully capitalizing on music composed by Jackman. Despite this musical imbalance, the film benefits from both, creating the right moods for this brand new adventure story.
Overall, Kong: Skull Island is entertaining and definitely worth watching if you get the chance. It will amaze you with its stunning creatures, impressive cast, and exciting action. The film, together with its originality, will immerse you in its modernized remake of Cooper’s and Wallace’s classic tale.