Ben Challoner’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was a monumental disappointment for me. It was not a terrible film technically but its constant tonal shifts and clichéd and clunky script made me feel more distant from the characters than right in there with them like I should have been.
Kong himself looks stunning and you certainly get a sense of his impressive size and strength. There are also a few extra creatures that pop up which are both interesting and imaginative but the film cannot decide whether it wants to be a creature feature or "Honey, I shrunk the Kids". It is supposedly a family film however there is some pretty intense violence mixed with goofy humour which I thought I would have thoroughly enjoyed but alas it hardly got me excited at all. Films that have done it better are the likes of Arachnophobia, Tremors, Gremlins, even the 1995 monkey flick Congo!
Jordan Vogt-Roberts made one of my favourite films of 2013 with his feature debut The Kings of Summer where a few teenagers spent their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. It was special, unique and funny and it concentrated on building its characters traits so we cared about their story. Now I know this is a $200 million blockbuster rather than a $50 thousand indie but that is no excuse for making your characters so paper thin that I didn't care if they lived or died. There was only one character whom I genuinely hoped for (played pretty wonderfully by Toby Kebbell) as he writes letters home to his son Billy letting him know how he will be coming back home to him but even he gets less screen time in exchange for a bunch of army boys who haven't got one interesting personality between the lot of them.
Our leads are a bit of a letdown to me too. Whilst Tom Hiddleston impressed me in High-Rise and The Night Manager he is essentially just a British toff with a tight t-shirt here. His character is supposedly one of the world's greatest trackers yet his knowledge seems to be about as extensive as me reading a wikipedia post on tracking. Brie Larson looks beautiful in this but sadly her character is given absolutely zero to do! Nothing! She takes a few pictures and doesn't like the army's methods of using firepower on nature. Apart from that it is tight t-shirt time right next to Hiddleston. Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman are both on my favourite actor lists yet their singular motives within this script left me just thinking of their superior performances in other roles. I believe the term is "phoning it in". Finally, we have John C. Reilly. This gentleman is in so many of my favourite films that I lose count. He can do drama with intensity and he can do ridiculous comedy, both to a very high standard, and here he is firmly in the latter category. He has a few good lines (mostly the ones from the trailer) but he is just another part of the tonal shift issue that took me out of it.
It seems to be that the general consensus on this is that it is a fun romp and I was genuinely excited to see it but unfortunately for me this was a dud. Maybe as a "beer and pizza" movie late one night I will revisit it and get some enjoyment but I won't be holding my breath.