KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Starring Tom Hiddelston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Terry Notary and John C. Reilly
Story by John Gatins
Screenplay by Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Reviewed by Paul & Patrick Gibbs
Out of Four
we start wondering why the title Viet Kong never ocurred to anyone, and the irony of the fact that the journey in Jackson's film took over an hour, yet this seems to drudge by even more slowly, starts to get genuinely depressing. But once the military helicopters reach the island, no time is wasted in introducing us to the Mighty Kong, and we start getting treated to spectacular action as the soldiers learn the true meaning of gorilla warfare.
The good news is that from this point on, whenever Kong is on screen, the movie is quite entertaining. The bad news is that every time he disappears for any length of time (which is surprisingly often) we are forced back into enduring a talented cast trying, and for the most part failing, to make their cardboard characters even slightly interesting. Hiddelston, generally a charming and engaging actor, is painfully miscast here, to the point where there are several moments when you can practically hear a producer off screen yelling "I know I said I wanted you to get me Loki, but I meant Thor! Do what I mean, not what say!" The only thing more annoying than Jackson's tired "bad mother-effer shtick combined with a cartoonishly obsessed Captain Ahab stars in Apocalypse Now character is the complete waste of John Goodman in a thankless role that may constitute the least intriguing performance of this great actor's career. John C. Reilly fares much better as a Ben Gunn-esque castaway, getting the lion's share of both laughs and heart, and Oscar Winner Larson effectively arches her back a lot. She also fairly convincingly portrays a sense of caring about Kong, though it is more in the way one does for a pet than the kind of intense empathic bond portrayed by Naomi Watts. What we have here a prime example of how bad writing and chauvinism all too often make an Oscar winning actress follow a big step forward with two steps back. Larson is neither miscast or off step, she simply has nothing to work with in this movie.
Still, there is definitely fun to be had. This is strictly a low expectations, turn off your brain piece of entertainment, but it works most of the time on that level, and there's a lot to be said for that fact. If you are attached to the legendary beast, it's a must see. And as this is very much intended to go together with Godzilla as part of Warner and Legendary Pictures attempt at a Marvel style shared universe, we strongly suggest staying until the credits are over.
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