I really wanted to like this. I really did. I was even willing to forgive the handful of creaky moments in its first half hour — paper-thin characters, hackneyed set-ups and more — because the pace is so exciting. When the titular giant ape makes his first appearance, it’s at a genuinely unexpected moment, and the chaos is handled beautifully by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer). I was ready for a thrill ride.
But it’s all downhill from there. You see, it’s one thing to reference other movies, to pay visual or thematic homage; that’s something the otherwise narratively impoverished A Cure for Wellness does to its credit. It’s another, however, to simply mash-up the plots of a few different movies and hope that nostalgia will fill the cracks.
That’s Kong: Skull Island — it’s almost literally Apocalypse Now in Jurassic Park with the Incredible Hulk. And it really wants you to know it; there are even characters named Conrad and Marlow, for chrissakes. Thing is, it’s all superficial; the work of someone who read Heart of Darkness and missed all the meaning.
So that’s bad enough. But it’s compounded by the usual uncomfortable treatment of people of colour (forget the token Chinese character to please investors, she’s a nerd who’s meant to be in the background — the literally voiceless island native trope is far more egregious) and a cast devoid of the kind of vim, vigour and chemistry required.
Samuel L Jackson can sleepwalk through roles like his here; Brie Larson isn’t doing herself any favours with a nothing part designed to ‘humanise the beast’ in the most uninspired fashion. Oh, and Tom Hiddleston, introduced as a derring-do Indiana Jones type who does feck-all the rest of the running time, sucks all of his scenes dry with that charisma vacuum of his.
I was bored out of my skull well before the climactic battle between Kong and a blandly conceived (and unforgivably poorly CGIed) lizard monster from a first-person shooter. And you can damn well believe I didn’t stay for the post-credits scene. Please don’t taint Godzilla with this foulness.