It’s 1971. Bill Randa (John Goodman) is determined to prove the existence of monsters, along with his skeptical but supportive colleague, Houston Brooks (Cory Hawkins). The two have uncovered satellite footage of an uncharted island deep in the pacific oceans, setting up a team of soldiers to guide them through the perils of the sea and onto its shores. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a man unwilling to accept that the war is coming to an end, leads the team, assisted by famed tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). After pushing through potentially life ending storms and landing down on the island’s gorgeous surface, it’s here where trouble arrives.
The film opens with a flashback sequence set in the 1940s, giving us our first look at the enormity of Kong’s largest interpretation yet, despite being but a child with plenty of room left to grow. And he’s going to need it when he’s forced to face Godzilla in the much-anticipated 2020 sequel, Godzilla Vs. Kong. This opening deviates away from predictability, I will give it that. It’s not what I was prepared to see, gripping me right away, but it soon becomes clear that this opening is incredibly distasteful. Describing it as poorly written feels like an understatement, as it’s that and so much worse. All expectations I had for the film were immediately shattered, leaving me with nothing more than a faint glimmer of hope for what’s to come.
Monster brawls top off the finale of each act, and while they’re definitely the highlight of the film, the filler in-between is where this movie falls apart. John C. Reilly steals the show with his comedic, larger than life character, but other than that, everyone else is a bore, although it’s never because of their performances. All the cast members are great, as is to be expected when the cast list is this impressive, but it’s the writing of their characters that drags this film down into the mud. They’re clichéd and dull, the dialogue excruciating, and the first act, in which each of them gets an introduction, is incredibly poor. Think Suicide Squad’s first act, but a little more subtle (it feels strange describing Kong: Skull Island as subtle) and presented in linear fashion. The soundtrack is great, but is Kong: Skull Island really a film that needed one? It takes away from the movie more than it adds.
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