I like King Kong films. I’ve only seen a few but they’ve always entertained me quite a bit. I especially enjoy Peter Jackson’s rendition of the overgrown gorilla. It might have been an hour too long, but I found the characters quite good and never really found myself being bored. With the recent success of Godzilla, Kong is back and he is bigger than ever (he really is, he’s huge). So how is the film? Simply put: it is not very good. Within the first couple of minutes I realized that this was not going to be a good film and not much afterwards convinced me otherwise.
Is that a monkey?
While I did not like this film (overall), there are several bright spots. For one, John C. Reilly was surprisingly excellent. I say surprisingly because based on the trailers I thought he would be the worst part of the film. Not only is he the best part, but I found his character so interesting I question why the entire film did not revolve around him. Along with his strong character this film had some breathtaking visuals. There were more than a few times where I was simply in awe of how the filmmakers crafted a compelling shot.
One of my favorite shots is a silhouette of Kong as the helicopters approach him for battle. The battles themselves were pretty cool, the highlight being Kong taking on the helicopters early on in the film. That being said, the rest of the film is pretty bad. Starting off with the writing. I heard that the writing in this film is weak, but I had no idea just how weak it really was. The plot does not make much sense, the characters are all bland and none of the jokes land. Several of the cast members get killed off as the film goes on, but I never once cared that they died. The film tries to force you to care, but you do not. Some characters get some forced character development, but you still never feel anything because it simply feels forced and is not properly conveyed. This is most evident in Toby Kebbell’s character. An interesting side-note: Kebbell also plays Kong, which is not his first motion capture primate. Kebbell played Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes alongside Andy Serkis (who previously played Kong in Peter Jackson’s King Kong). What is so disappointing about this is the fact that this cast is fantastic: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and so many more. I love each of these actors individually, but did not care for them one bit in this poorly constructed film.
This planet doesn’t belong to us
For a film that should be exciting, I found myself being quite bored throughout. This ties into the writing, but the editing as well. The pacing fluctuates between being slow and quick, but because of the poorly characterized characters I find myself uninterested and bored even when the pace picks up.
It is fun watching Kong take on some monsters, but no sequence was quite as thrilling as Godzilla going up against MUTO, or even 2005 Kong going up against the T-Rex’s. Not only that but the effects themselves are not that great either. Sometimes the detail on Kong is remarkable, but other times it just looks bad. I think the main problem is the fur. It just does not look natural. His eyes and his skin look quite good though. Finally, the end credits scene is stupid. While this film does not entirely hamper my excitement for Kong Vs. Godzilla, the end credits scene worries me because they are trying too hard to set it up. They are trying so hard to make a connected universe like Marvel of DC, but I just want them to make a good film first.
I say this with a heavy heart, but I would advise you to skip this film in the cinemas. Wait for it to come out on Netflix, or honestly just never watch it. It is a bad film, made only worse by its wasted potential. It is not without its moments, but they are so few that it does not warrant a recommendation.