Kong: Skull Island is about exactly what you’d expect from a movie called Kong: Skull Island. That’s not necessarily a criticism.
We’re plunged into an alternate cinematic universe in which King Kong was never taken from his home on Skull Island and sent to New York City. Instead, at the tail end of the Vietnam war, John Goodman and his secret government operation want to investigate what exactly might exist on this heretofore undiscovered island in the Pacific that only recently showed up on satellite photos. Yes, of course, this is Skull Island.
Goodman assembles a team of scientists and war veterans to fly to the island, at which point they soon encounter Kong, who makes quick work of the bothersome helicopters and about 80 percent of the team. As it turns out, though, Kong isn’t the only giant creature on the island, and he’s hardly the biggest worry the expedition team has.
As I said, what follows is about what you might expect. People fighting monsters, monsters fighting monsters, people fighting people, all of it in the service of getting off the island as quickly as they originally wanted to get on it. And to be fair, while this is mostly all that happens, it’s not bad at it. The effects are pretty fantastic, Kong of course turns out to be more of a savior than a villain, and, let’s be honest, sometimes watching big scary things punch each other and throw each other around can be pretty fun. Entire franchises have been built on exactly that.
Ultimately, you know if this is the kind of movie for you. There is a bit more intrigue, as Samuel L. Jackson’s military leader is hell-bent on taking revenge on Kong for destroying most of his team, but most everything that happens is in service of moving from one monster brawl set piece to the next, with plenty of elaborate deaths for both people and the giant Skull Island inhabitants. Kong: Skull Island delivers what it promises, and doesn’t bother with trying to do much more.