Jacob Cornblatt’s review published on Letterboxd:
I will say I'm impressed with Kong: Skull Island. I went in expecting nothing more than two hours of action, but was happy to find out that the writers actually wanted to give a film a purpose; there was an excellent combination of blow-em-up action and anti-war thematics. For the most part.
My main critique of the film is the characters. Though most of them were enjoyable enough—I actually really enjoyed most of Sam Jackson's and King Kong's characters—the problem was that they didn't have any collective objective. Each character, especially towards the end, had a very different goal, and because we really had no central protagonist, the film felt aimless. Sure, there were situations where everyone's goal was "stay alive" or "get to point B," but there was nothing tying the whole film together.
This is why the film has terrible pacing, why the huge finale somehow feels anticlimactic. There are only individual objectives here.
There's no denying that Kong has style, though. Especially in the beginning, the atmosphere of the 70s shines through the screen. It's lively and energetic, yet an omnipotent feeling of chaos hangs over.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts is to thank for everything good with Kong, honestly. His camera movements are incredibly purposeful and visceral, especially his pushes inward. I would love to see him make a small-scale dramedy, as he has a wonderful ability to tell a subtle story visually. (This isn't to say Kong is a subtle story, but there are some very subtle moments where Vogt-Robers kills it.)
The action is the real killer to the whole picture, though—if the action were good, maybe the lack of objective wouldn't matter. Every fight feels the same (except for the first encounter with Kong, which is superb). It becomes monotonous and redundant: two things that should never be said about a big budget action movie.
I am really blown away by the anti-war stuff, nonetheless. Between the fun odes to past movies of similar ideals and the allegorical conversations between characters, I am very impressed by all four writers.
There's one thing left that I want to discuss: the ending.
When the helicopters are coming to save everyone, and we see Kong slowly become aggressive towards the sight of them, I thought the film would cut out and credits would roll. This would've been an incredible ending full of unbelievably deep ambiguity.
Instead, however, one final scene is slapped on the end, essentially ridding the grand finale of any weight. The footage of John C. Reilly's character coming home was put in solely for audience-service. It was obviously slapped on, and frankly, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Shouldn't have been left in the final cut.