When it comes to effects driven blockbusters, it doesn't take a genius to see that Warner Bros. Has struggled in recent years. Godzilla was a hit back in 2014, but in the years since its release, fans have turned on both it and the way the titular monster's appearance was handled (people only seem to remember the fleeting glimpses rather than the awesome final act reveal). So, when it came time to launch a MonsterVerse, it's fair to say the pressure was on the studio to deliver with Kong: Skull Island. Thankfully, they have in a very, very big way.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wastes no time in introducing us to the movie's iconic beast and every second he's on screen is handled terrifically. Kong is shot in a way that makes him feel truly terrifying, though he's also immensely likeable in some of the quieter moments and, I, for one, am going to find it impossible not to root for him when he takes on Godzilla a few years from now. As well as handling Kong perfectly (the action scenes are out of this world), Vogt-Roberts also delivers one of the most stylish and visually exciting blockbusters in recent memory. The sight of a gas mask wearing Tom Hiddleston walking through bright green poison gas slicing down flying monster's I'd one I'll definitely remember for a while! It's immediately clear that the director is quickly going to become one of the best and most highly sought after filmmakers in Hollywood and comic book fans will no doubt come out of Kong: Skull Island fantasising about the superhero movies he could make an impact with (my vote goes to The Flash).
The direction is fantastic enough to ensure that any cast would shine here, but the movie is lucky enough to boast an ensemble every bit as impressive in front of the camera as the talent behind it. Following The Night Manager, Tom Hiddleston once again proves he's leading man material, while Samuel L. Jackson - who isn't too far behind Nic Cage when it comes to saying yes to pretty much all the projects handed to him - delivers one of his finest performances in quite some time. Future Captain Marvel Brie Larson delivers some solid work here too, while the likes of Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, and Shea Whigham all make an impact. Surprisingly, it's John Goodman who seems to be phoning it in, a shame coming off the back of his superb work in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Who steals the show? That's easy. John C. Reilly is amazing as a soldier who has been trapped on the island for the past 28 years delivering the movie's funniest lines and a much-needed bit of emotion. Marvel really missed a trick not better utilising him in their Cinematic Universe.
Writers Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly have delivered an excellent screenplay with Kong: Skull Island and the story works well from start to finish. There are occasions where too much time passes without Kong on screen, but that can be forgiven as the human characters are not a weakness here the same way they were in Godzilla. The visual effects are spot on throughout too, with the creature designs extremely inspired and more than just CGI fodder for Kong to fight his way through. Henry Jackman's score proves to be a highlight and it's refreshing to find a blockbuster which finds the right running time. The movie is neither overlong nor too brisk. Simply put, Kong: Skull Island is an all round great time at the cinema and even makes relatively good use of 3D. Now there's a rarity!
Setting the benchmark for 2017's blockbusters, Kong: Skull Island is visually stunning, thrilling from start to finish and a triumphant big screen return for King Kong. Be sure to stay after the credits!