Xplodera’s review published on Letterboxd:
There’s something quite interesting right at the beginning of Kong: Skull Island, we get to see an American soldier fighting a Japanese soldier and for a film that will inevitably lead up to the monster-clash Godzilla vs. Kong this is a fun little battle before a film that will pit the Japanese Godzilla against the very much U.S.-attached Kong. Unfortunately, that’s about as much interesting subtext that I can cram out of Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ monsterverse-effort because this is a real monster-film at heart. A good monster-film, but also very much a monster-film in that the beast-brawls are one of the few important things here and most other things I’d personally look for to call a film really good is rarely touched upon.
The character-introductions in Kong: Skull Island are… Provoking. That’s really what I’d call them, the setup for every major character’s presentation in this film is so bare-bone lazy that it’s frustrating. When I find myself liking the people in the film, it’s oftentimes thanks to some solid acting or just small things like being able to relate to Brie Larson’s photographer, being a hobby-photographer myself. As real emotional investment go however, it’s sadly spread very thin and the surprising amount of sympathy Vogt-Roberts manages to create for Kong in a film like this sticks out awkwardly against the complete lack of investment for any human characters.
Even if it’s admittedly thin, I do appreciate the ‘Nam-feeling the film brings, but it’s oftentimes just as much of a testament to how much the visuals and atmosphere outshines the script. More often than not, the dialogue invokes deep sighs or rolling eyes, the entire arc of the film is too transparent and for as much as I like the film – I can’t help but feeling turned-off by how weak character-motivation the film holds, how much irrational acts there is amongst the people in it and the overall thin story in terms of goals, progression and predictability.
With all these problems however, Kong: Skull Island ultimately swings over to the positive side, albeit with a thin margin. The aforementioned visuals are worthy of much praise, as the film creates some incredibly captivating environments through its cinematography as well as pack in some incredibly stunning imagery. Furthermore, the ecosystem of Skull Island really got to me and for every lethal monster that exists on the island there’s also a sense that we merely touch upon a small fraction of an incredibly diverse and exiting fauna upon this island. Speaking of fauna – I finally feel the need to get back to my initial statements; Kong: Skull Island is a good monster-film. My rating is for the film as a whole, but in the big saving grace that is the monster-aspects the film is an absolute blast, where I found myself just giggling of excitement as Kong brawls his way through the beasts of the island and as the creative creatures sends of flat characters to the promised land. Choreography, effects, camera-movements, it’s all there just how I want it.
Kong: Skull Island is simply ridiculously fun popcorn-entertainment – but here, there’s not much substance hiding in the ground beneath.