If you were worried about Kong: Skull Island not being about the titular ape, or that Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla remake was too subtle with its monster action, don’t worry as King Kong shows up on screen in the first five minutes of this movie. It’s almost as if they were worried the audience would get instantly bored, as if Michael Bay’s brand of mind-melting action filmmaking had trained us to ignore the music between the notes and focus only on the smashy-smashy explosions and noise.

But after that opening five minutes and following on from some fantastic opening credits, Kong: Skull Island slows its pace down and focuses on something that many tentpole action blockbusters forget: the characters. The first hour of the movie (which still contains some action) is based solely on introducing us to all of the main players of the piece and their motivations. This isn’t just a standard roll-call of expendable and heroic names, the script by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and Max Borenstein (Godzilla) is designed to make us care and invest in the people going to Skull Island. They’re (mostly) not exposition machines or blank avatars, they’re defined characters with wants and needs. Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard is an army-vet with no direction or war to fight, Tom Hiddleston’s Conrad is a mercenary for hire in need of a new adventure, Brie Larson’s Mason Weaver is a photographer in search of the truth in a world where politics lie to her, John Goodman’s Bill Randa is also searching for the truth but only to point and laugh with a “told you so” attitude to all the people who called him crazy his entire professional life. The first hour of Kong: Skull Island is incredible and remarkable filmmaking, a lesson for all action filmmakers in a modern age.

Written for Flickering Myth. Read the full review here.

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