Kong: Skull Island would make an interesting case study for anyone interested in making a good movie the wrong way. Much to the chagrin of this reviewer's monster movie-loving heart, this film has a lot of problems. Despite this sad reality, however, Kong: Skull Island still manages to dish out enough of what it promises (namely ungodly havoc at the unnaturally large paws of the largest primate ever put to film) for a good time at the theater.
Whether you enjoyed Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla reboot or not, many criticized it for a severe lack of the scaly antihero. Judging from the trailers for 'Kong,' you would think Legendary and Warner Bros. had learned a thing or two. Unfortunately, Kong: Skull Island boasts only a bit more screen time for its own titular behemoth. To be fair, Kong's excellently choreographed throw-downs are the best parts of the film. They're exhilarating. They're just too sporadically spaced out between the dull human melodrama.
The hollow script (co-written by Nightcrawler's Dan Gilroy, I'll have you know) does not allow its stranded characters (I use the term loosely) time to develop outside their ninety second introductions and none of them are given any arcs, none with a satisfying payoff anyways. This is all the more disappointing when you consider how well its superstar cast does with so little to go off. Alas, we are left to imagine what they could have accomplished with richer material.
On that note, it would be a miss if I did not mention John C. Reilly, who plays an Air Force vet who has been living on the island for almost three decades after crash landing there during WWII. Despite this nightmarish scenario, he perfectly embodies the film's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. While most jokes fall flat throughout, Reilly, much like his humongous humanoid co-star, is a constant source of unabashed enjoyment.
Even in the face of its mounting imperfections, this unabashed enjoyment ultimately rises to the surface. Whether you're jumping in your seat from the intensity of the monster mayhem, busting a gut at one of Reilly's self-referential jokes, or bobbing your head to any of the kick-ass 70s rock selections, Kong: Skull Island succeeds in being what it is: a fun monster romp.