Kong: Skull Island is trying to set up a “giant monster universe” together with Godzilla (2014). In this film we quickly get introduced to a bunch of characters all at once who’ve gotten the mission to go to this newly found island, which turns out to be the house of the almighty Kong…
Getting introduced to so many characters at once isn’t necessarily a problem, if the film later takes the time to develop those characters, which Kong: Skull Island unfortunately doesn’t do. But there were moments when they set up something for a character, which they later just ignore, like with Samuel L. Jackson’s character for example. In the beginning of the film he’s seen with a bottle of alcohol and seems distant in the conversation he’s having with Toby Kebbell’s character, which in my opinion insinuates that Jackson’s character possibly grasped for alcohol after he saw the true horrors of war in the Vietnam War, but then again, the film just seems to forget about this possibility, which would’ve brought quite some depth to his character, which is now just wasted potential.
Out of the bunch of characters, there are only three more the movie tries to develop a tiny bit, and these are the characters of: Toby Kebbell, Tom Hiddelston and John C. Reilly. Kebbell’s character was quite useless to begin with, so developing him had no real use and what they tried to do, wasn’t done well enough, so I ultimately didn’t care for his character. Tom Hiddelston’s character is pretty much just a badass, and there isn’t much more to his character, except for one scene, in which he has a moment with Brie Larson, but that moment is pushed right into your face, whereby it doesn’t work at all. With John C. Reilly’s character they just constantly repeated the same thing that had been said multiple times, which also didn’t add a lot to his character, which is a true shame, because he had the most potential of being interesting. And if you’re wondering what Brie Larson’s character is: she’s a photographer. There’s nothing more to her than that.
The only things that made all these characters watchable, is because of the natural charisma each cast member carries. That charisma is also the only reason why some of the jokes worked. The others were just plain bad. That brings me to another thing that the movie did wrong: the tone. It tried to be a drama, an action film, an over the top action film, a comedy, a serious film and all these things did not fit together at all. Often enough it tried to be taken seriously, when just unintentional funny stuff was going on, or it tried to be funny, when there was just nothing to laugh at.
Now the film visually looked pretty good and I liked the color grading, because it made the film look more vintage. The director had some sense of scale and often enough put Kong right in front of a human in the same shot, to accentuate the fact how ginormous Kong is in comparison to that tiny man standing there on screen. He also was pretty good at creating action scenes, which were the best part of the film. These mostly existed out of wide shots, and were finely edited.
The CGI wasn’t the greatest, though. Kong just looked very CGI to me, and he was the best looking CGI creature in the movie. This film is filled with moments in which the CGI is overwhelming. If they’d used more props, or went to location a bit more, this would’ve changed the movie quite a bit. Especially in the night scenes you could see that they were filmed in a set and that the backdrop consisted out of a green screen. I know that they went on location numerous times, but some scenes then were shot in complete green rooms.
Kong: Skull Island wasn’t a good movie, but it did contain some good action sequences, which were quite enjoyable to watch. The characters were underwhelming and the CGI was also not the greatest. That’s why this film only gets a C.