Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you were looking forward to this film, I have to say that you may be disappointed. I had fun with the film, but there are a considerable amount of problems.
Let's go back to the seventies. It's wartime in America, the Vietnam war to be exact. At the height of it, two men working for a shady organization walk in and ask for money to go to an uncharted island. They get the money, gather a crew and set off. Once they get there, however, shit hits the fan. Now they're trapped on an island with a giant gorilla, deadly creatures and a zany castaway. The film captures the seventies perfectly. Everything from the look to the soundtrack compliments this. The overall style and aesthetic reminded me a bit of Apocalypse Now. There's also a lot of tension in the air, adding a bit of suspense. However, I was a bit torn on the characters. They seemed interesting, and a lot of them had a few good moments. Despite this, none of them had any backstory whatsoever. You were given a little bit, like maybe a tidbit on their families and what they were doing prior to this mission, but if you're looking for a deep story, you'll be disappointed. One character, Hank Marlow, is just there for backstory and some comic relief. Also the second half dragged a bit, with nothing important happening. Maybe a few things will catch you off guard, but I kinda predicted they would happen. Some characters are there to be disposable. There's little emotional stakes, despite some intense shit happening. One other think, if you're gonna make your film about King Kong and feature him heavily in the marketing, can you maybe focus on him a bit more. More time was spent meandering with the human characters then King Kong. Also the ending was very abrupt, and I felt there was really no closure to the story. But let's face it, I was kinda set up to be a bit disappointed. You don't really go into a film about King Kong expecting a deep story. I gave a lot of cons, but I still had some fun with the film. The action scenes were very entertaining. Sure it could be a bit CG heavy at times, but I had fun with them. Also I enjoyed some of the POV shots where the soldiers were holding guns and whatnot. The biggest pluses I can give this film are to the aesthetic, the soundtrack and the action. And those three things are why I can give this film a solid three stars. Sure I was a bit let down by the lack of interesting characters and some of the writing, but I can say that Kong: Skull island is a good popcorn film.
Despite the characters not having a ton of development, they had good chemistry together. Tom Hiddleston plays a British badass, who has one scene that was a delight to see on the big screen. Brie Larson also was great in this film, having a few good quips and giving a great performance as always. Also I can now confirm that Larson has the best smile, so beautiful. For me, it's always a delight to see John Goodman onscreen. He can be very comedic, as seen in the Big Lebowski, or very menacing, as seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane. In this film I felt like he was more menacing, but he still gave a great performance. John C. Reilly was kinda just there for comic relief, but I didn't mind too much. Like I said, the chemistry between them is great, and somewhat makes up for the lack of character development.
The environments in this film look incredible. They're large, tropical and extravagant, which looks beautiful onscreen. I've been surrounded with large expansive environments recently, seeing as I've been binging the new Zelda game. How does this relate to this, I dunno. It's just that their environments are both great. During some of the action scenes this is amplified by the use of color grading. It adds vibrancy that, like I said, reminded me of Apocalypse Now. It especially reminded me of the opening scene of that film. All of this is tied together by Larry Fong's cinematography. It's vibrant, frenetic and a joy to see onscreen.
The soundtrack to this film is kinda the same as any 70's set film. It's a lot of CCR, Black Sabbath and some Bowie thrown in. But, it did help convey the time period, so that's a plus.
Overall, despite some narrative shortcomings I enjoyed my time with this film. It's not a film I would immediately see again, but it's definitely a good popcorn flick if you can overlook it's flaws.