Kong: Skull Island

Critics Consensus

Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 368

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,933
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Movie Info

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures' "Kong: Skull Island" reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts ("The Kings of Summer"). In the film, a diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific - as beautiful as it is treacherous - unaware that they're crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong. "Kong: Skull Island" stars Tom Hiddleston ("The Avengers," "Thor: The Dark World"), Samuel L. Jackson ("The Hateful Eight," "Avengers: Age of Ultron"), Oscar winner Brie Larson ("Room," "Trainwreck"), John Goodman ("Transformers: Age of Extinction," "Argo") and John C. Reilly ("Guardians of the Galaxy," "Step Brothers"). The international ensemble cast also includes Tian Jing ("Police Story: Lockdown"), Corey Hawkins ("Straight Outta Compton"), Jason Mitchell ("Straight Outta Compton"), John Ortiz ("Steve Jobs"), Thomas Mann ("Beautiful Creatures"), Shea Whigham ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Toby Kebbell ("Dawn of the Planet of the Apes") and Eugene Cordero ("The Kings of Summer"). Vogt-Roberts is directing the film from a screenplay by Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Derek Connolly. "Kong: Skull Island" is produced by Legendary's Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni with Mary Parent. The executive producers are Eric McLeod and Alex Garcia. The creative behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Larry Fong ("Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"), production designer Stefan Dechant (supervising art director "True Grit," "Avatar"), editor Christian Wagner (the "Fast & Furious" films), and costume designer Mary Vogt (the "Men in Black" films). The team also includes Oscar-winning makeup supervisor Bill Corso ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens") and supervising stunt coordinator George Cottle ("Interstellar," "The Dark Knight Rises"). The legendary Kong is being brought to life at a whole new scale by Industrial Light & Magic, with two-time Oscar winner Stephen Rosenbaum ("Avatar," "Forrest Gump") serving as visual effects supervisor. To fully immerse audiences in the mysterious Skull Island, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and his cast and filmmaking team are filming across three continents over six months, capturing its primordial landscapes on Oahu, Hawaii - where filming commenced on October 2015 - on Australia's Gold Coast, and finally in Vietnam, where filming will take place across multiple locations, some of which have never before been seen on film. Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Present a Legendary Pictures Production, "Kong: Skull Island." The film will be released worldwide in 2D, 3D in select theatres, and IMAX beginning March 10, 2017, from Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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Cast

Tom Hiddleston
as James Conrad
Samuel L. Jackson
as Preston Packard
John Goodman
as Bill Randa
Brie Larson
as Mason Weaver
John C. Reilly
as Hank Marlow
John Ortiz
as Victor Nieves
Toby Kebbell
as Jack Chapman
Corey Hawkins
as Houston Brooks
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News & Interviews for Kong: Skull Island

Critic Reviews for Kong: Skull Island

All Critics (368) | Top Critics (50) | Fresh (277) | Rotten (91)

  • Kong: Skull Island is just good enough-the sharp allusions, the moments of wit and warmth supplied by Reilly's long-abandoned airman-to make one wish it were better.

    Mar 27, 2017 | Full Review…
  • The CGI Kong is cool.

    Mar 12, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • There's enough material out there to fuel a string of reboots, but the swing toward diminishing returns has already begun.

    Mar 10, 2017 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

    Eric Kohn

    indieWire
    Top Critic
  • It's fun to watch the [monsters] in action, but on the human side, the film is clumsily written, over-cast and underacted, with only frustrated soldier Samuel L. Jackson striking the right tone of crazy amid the chaos.

    Mar 10, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • The action and special effects are mostly first-rate and Vogt-Roberts maintains a vaguely satiric tone that sidesteps schlockiness.

    Mar 10, 2017 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival thrums on the soundtrack - has any '70s movie managed to avoid it? - but when the giant spiders start stomping, Vogt-Roberts earns the right to blast "Run Through the Jungle."

    Mar 10, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Amy Nicholson

    MTV
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kong: Skull Island

  • Jun 18, 2019
    The pacing and screenwriting fail to match up with the impressive cast and visuals. The film seems to waver between monster-thriller and goofy-comedy, and it most likely would've worked better if it had committed to one of the aforementioned genres.
    Spencer M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 08, 2018
    I honestly think comparing this movie to the original 1933 would be a bit unfair. I say this because the original has already been established as a classic and, in some people's eyes, you can't compete with the classics, even if those classics haven't exactly aged well from a technical standpoint. That's not to say that the original King Kong wasn't impressive because, for 1933, Kong himself was certainly very impressive. Having said that, though, the thing is that EIGHTY-FIVE years have passed since the original movie and this current year (2018). Unless you grew up loving the film or are an appreciator of the classics, this movie isn't gonna hold up well to 2018 eyes. It's not the film's fault, but that's also not people's faults either. I think that, subconsciously, we always want what's new and we want to see technological progress. Going back to my first smartphone, as good as it may have been at the time, wouldn't really go well when I've had two Samsung Galaxys (S3 and S6). Because we're always thinking about how we can move forward. I feel that that also applies to the original King Kong. People who haven't seen the movie can't magically adjust their eyes and minds to how it was back in 1933. It's impossible. You can pretend that you are watching it as you were in 1933, but you're not. You're probably watching it on a nice TV, a Blu-Ray special edition DVD. Even the appreciators, unless they're really hardcore, don't really put themselves into the mindset of how it was in 1933, because the film probably looked a lot dirtier and grainier than it does now with various restorations performed. That's why I feel it's fairer to compare THIS movie to Peter Jackson's 2005 epic, even if both movies are thematically different. Peter Jackson's 2005 is, basically, a remake of the original (and a very good one at that) that runs longer than life itself. Well, really, according to its Netflix page, it runs 3 hours and 7 minutes (with credits). I saw this version not that long ago (I didn't review it because, honestly, I didn't want to) and it's something like close to an hour into the film before they get to Skull Island itself. This movie differs in some key ways that, honestly, I think are beneficial in attempting to set itself apart. In a lot of ways, this is a war movie. This group of scientists and soldiers head to this island in the Pacific that has been completely uncharted, unmapped and unexplored by man (or so they thought). So they're sent to the island on a 'geological' expedition. I say that in quotation marks because, of course, the group behind the expedition has some ulterior motives and that is to see if there are monsters hiding beneath the earth and finding a way to flush them out. I don't wanna say that 2005's King Kong wasted time in showing you Kong himself, they built it up to it rather nicely. But I think this movie understands that, for this to work as a war movie, Kong has to immediately attack the helicopters as they come in and drop seismic charges on the island. Kong's introduction in this movie is tremendous and it does set the mood for this being a proper monster movie. Even though Kong, really, is kind of the hero in this scenario. There's an obvious, not-so-subtle commentary on how humans feel the need to destroy what they do not know. Or how they go into lands that are not their own and act as if they own the place and, yet, somehow when those native to those lands fight back, they're somehow the villains. That's explored in Packard's relationship with Kong, if it can be called that. Colonel Packard (Samuel Jackson) is a soldier without a war to fight as, the day prior to going into this expedition, the Vietnam war was...called off, I guess. Oh, and yea, this is set in 1973. Packard jumps at the opportunity to get back in the field, even if those below him SHOULD be able to go home to their families. Anyway, when Kong destroys some of the helicopters that come into the island, after dropping seismic charges of course, Packard takes it upon himself to go to a location where one of his other soldiers is at, collect the weapons and hunt Kong down. Packard's actions are selfish because, really, he's putting the rest of his team at risk of being murdered just because of some need to get rid of a giant ape that, really, can't be brought down with conventional weaponry. In many ways, Packard is Captain Ahab and Kong is his Moby Dick. The more sensible thing would be to retreat and escape with as many people as you can. The not-so-sensible thing would be to put your men's lives in further danger for some misguided mission to get "revenge". Honestly, to me, Packard is probably the most interesting character in the entire movie. Not really saying much, when Packard's really the only one with these motivations as the rest are just trying to survive. Having said that, however, I did like the characters and the cast was very good. It's just that there wasn't much development for a good chunk of them. There was also Hank Marlow, who had been stuck on the island since 1944 (before World War 2 ended) with this Japanese soldier that he was fighting against. Eventually, of course, they became friends as they found their way to the local tribe, that took them in and helped them for almost 30 years. I think that's another not-so-subtle commentary on how two people, without being told by their respective governments that the other is the enemy, can set aside their fight and become friends. I honestly wish we could have seen more of Gunpei (the Japanese soldier) and Marlow. The former is already dead by the time Conrad's group finds their way to the tribe. Perhaps the one problem that I had with the movie was how all these characters were split apart in the original attack by Kong. One group ends up on one side of the island and the other group ends up in another place entirely. And a lot of this is the groups trying to find their way back to each other. I never thought the movie was bad, or even remotely close to it, but I feel that this approach did kind of hurt the pacing a bit. Made it feel as if the movie did not need to be as long as it was. I think if you're gonna have these moments where both groups are just travelling, then you need to make more than one character legitimately interesting. That way it doesn't feel like we're just killing time until the next big set-piece. And the movie also has plenty of those as well. That's one thing, I do think the monster elements of the movie deliver on what they promise. There's some thrilling scenes where Kong fights skull-crawlers, which are like these lizard things that have Cubone's face, Jordan Vogt-Roberts (director of this movie) even said as much. There's a giant spider and the scene that it appears in is straight out of a horror movie. In short, the movie offers some pretty damn cool moments with its monster. And, also, it's a very pretty movie to look at too. There's just something about the cinematography that I enjoyed. It sets the tone perfectly, some of the shots are really cool and the 70s soundtrack helps put you in that era. In short, this is a really well-made movie, no complaints from me in that front. The movie evokes some strong war imagery that's similar in nature to Apocalypse Now and Platoon, minus the grime. And, really, I think that part of what I like most about the movie is how it makes a war movie using the frameworks of a creature feature. It works surprisingly well, all things considered. With that said, even as impressive as some of the special effects were, I think I'd still have to give the nod to the 2005 King Kong. Kong in that movie was just spectacular in terms of his movements and acting believably like a giant fucking ape. I don't think this movie remotely comes close to capturing the heart and soul of Kong. And I believe that this movie tried, because Kong does show compassion for some characters in the movie, but I don't think that they captured that as well as Peter Jackson's version. That's not to say that it isn't really fucking cool to see Kong, in this movie, fight against a giant octopus or giant lizard-things, but the movie failed to capture the heart of Kong and, realistically speaking, Kong IS the heart and soul of the movie. So, yea, while I had my complaints, I still felt that this was a good movie. It's just something different for the franchise. It doesn't try to replicate the original, it blazes its own path and I really like that. It falls just short of being very good, but I still enjoyed my time with this movie, flaws and all.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jul 02, 2018
    Throwing everything AND the kitchen sink into a star-studded, white-knuckle monster prequel, this trip to Skull Island offers rollercoaster pacing, breakneck thrills, and entertaining abandon without even trying to equal the 5-star status of the vaunted classic. In this R-rated fantasy adventure, an expeditionary team (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Corey Hawkins, et al) explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. Rather than spawning an unwanted follow-up (Son of Kong, we're looking at you), Kong: Skull Island takes the most fascinating segment of King Kong and fleshes it out as an amusement park ride (not in the tired Jurassic World manner either). Indeed, this flick is pure wish fulfillment for classic film buffs. Moviegoers familiar with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's original get a certain itch scratched in a most enjoyable way. Okay, that sounds dirty but take heed: Early on in that 1933 gem, searchers embark on an expedition to Skull Island, a place of pre-historic monster mash-ups previously unknown to modern man. As that film has loftier goals (85-year-old spoiler alert: The great ape gets captured, falls in love with Fay Wray, and makes an ill-advised climb up the side of the Empire State Building), the brief taste of the H.G. Wellsian Skull Island leaves audiences wanting more. Rather than trying to satisfy persnickety cineastes with another retelling of Beauty & the Beast, Kong just wants to be really tasty popcorn. Putting together a hodgepodge of explorers played by A-list stars and having them ripped apart one-by-one in a Land of the Lost during the 1970s might seem like a bad cinematic idea but the execution ends up to be as good as one would hope from a big budget B-Movie. If only Peter Jackson's overrated 2005 re-do was this exciting! Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts knows exactly what he's doing. Armed with a winning screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly (based on a story by original Kong fan John Gatins), he sets the funtastic tone within the first 20 minutes by having Kong knock an Army attack copter right out of the air and eat one of the plastic soldiers inside. Hiddleston, Jackson, Goodman, Larson, Hawkins, and John C. Reilly embrace the spirit of the B-Move and gleefully run with it. Bloody and gutsy aplenty, the movie uses the R-rating as if it were more butter to pile upon this bucket of popcorn. What works most in the production's favor, however, is the brisk editing. The running time is just that: a collection of moments that sprints to the end. Though talk of a further monster mash-up between the King and Godzilla looms, Skull Island stands testament that all hope should not be abandoned for a thrillride that winks and nods while cities get leveled. To Sum It All Up: Advanced Skull Set
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 07, 2017
    A passable enough action film if you just want to plug into some decent battles between giant monsters, but be forewarned, I think even an action junkie will have to overlook quite a bit to love this film. I'm open-minded about sequels and imagine that Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (directors of the outstanding 1933 original) would have loved to have the technology that went into this film available to them, but for me, ultimately 'Kong: Skull Island' wasn't all that satisfying. Unfortunately, far more effort was put into the CGI, battle scenes, and setting itself up for sequels than there was in the script, creating what are more than one-dimensional characters, and giving those characters motivations that made sense. It's too bad that the creativity used to create cool monsters wasn't used to avoid plot holes and clichés. Taken in the right spirit or with the right people (e.g. friends who can laugh at the silliness or maybe a young teen), there is some entertainment value here, but one can't help but wish the film was a complete package.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer

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