richardfeder’s review published on Letterboxd:
The 3D was excellent, and I’m someone who usually foregoes the 3D option all together. I never seem to notice the effect that much to make it worth the extra cost. But “Kong: Skull Island” was a pleasant exception. There are many well composed, colorful shots that take advantage of the medium and moments of cutting-edge special effects where stuff is being flung toward the camera in a manner that is the closest to the over-the-top 3D I remember from when I was a kid in the 1970’s.
The first big action sequence was quite good. There were some decent moments in the climactic battle between Kong and a giant creature. I also liked an attack by a giant spider. I suppose these parts made “Kong: Skull Island” worth the price of admission. Overall, it’s a popcorn muncher that looks slick as apeshit.
But, I can’t go nuts with praise. The story was terrible, the characters forgettable, and there just wasn’t enough King Kong for my tastes.
“Kong: Skull Island” is much more of a super-glossy cheesy B movie than a truly great film. Viewed on those terms, it's a success, I will admit. But the story told in “King Kong” is more of a timeless, tragic “beauty and the beast” / “fish out of water” tale that is almost zenlike in its simplicity, crossing the line from high concept to genuine art. In comparison, “Kong: Skull Island” is an expensive firework show.
I could forgive the “We have to get on the island! Now we have to get off the island!” plot and bland characters of “Kong: Skull Island” if only there was more Kong. The designs of the other creatures that populate most the rest of the movie were uninspired, and the people were duller than dishwater. It made the non-Kong parts (i.e.: a majority of the movie) boring at best.
In Peter Jackson’s 2005 “King Kong”, Kong was a character in his own right. You sort of got to know and sympathize with him. And even though it took him a full hour to even show up, you certainly didn’t feel shortchanged when it came to his overall screen time. At least, I didn’t feel that way.
In contrast, the King Kong in “Kong: Skull Island” is mostly just a primal force akin to a tornado, with a personality to match. And his appearances seem more like extended cameos than a starring role. Whenever the people were fighting the other creatures, I couldn’t help but wonder where Kong was. The strange thing was, the characters in the movie didn’t seem that preoccupied with Kong at all. When Kong is off screen, there’s no sense that he’s out there on the island somewhere, much less any idea where he would be in relation to our protagonists, or even that he’s of any major concern to them.
I know, I know… I’m overthinking this giant ape movie. Stock up on snacks and beverages and enjoy the spectacle.