I just saw a sneak preview of Kong: Skull Island. I don't think this will be a long remembered monster movie. It's a fun movie, but ultimately forgettable. The CGI Kong, Samuel L Jackson, and John Goodman all took a backseat to John C. Rielly, who did a superb job playing a WWII pilot who was shot down and landed on Skull Island. Seriously, his role is the greatest thing in this movie.
The movie is set in 1973, and the premise is that LandSat (land mapping satellite) has taken pictures of an elusive island (Skull Island) that has been rumored to exist, but not proved. John Goodman convinces the government to launch an expedition to explore the island. They take some soldiers who were pulling out of Vietnam, and are headed by Samuel L Jackson. They also pick up a British ex-special forces "tracker" (Tom Hiddleston) and an "anti-war" photographer played by Brie Larson.
They start the mission by dropping bombs on the island to map the bedrock, ostensibly to look for mineral deposits. That's when Kong shows up to smack the helicopters out of the air, and generally wreak mayhem on the team. The scattered survivors then have to survive on an island filled with monsters and get to the extraction zone. One group finds John C. Reilly's character, who has been stranded on the island for 29+ years.
That's about all I'll say about the story, so as to avoid serious spoilers. The story line is fairly conventional with very little arc to the characters. In many regards it actually sets up more like a horror movie than action/adventure movie. In fact, there are numerous jump-scares and other horror movie devices throughout the movie.
In many ways, it felt like the movie couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be. Is it a monster movie? A horror movie? An action movie (anti-war)? There are also numerous characters who seem like they were intended to play more significant roles. For instance they bring along a biologist, played by Tian Jing, who does no biology and seems to mainly appear to allow another character to give exposition. Similarly most of the LandSat team, who seem to be around for comic relief (horror movie style comic relief). Even some of the major characters do little aside from provide a single plot piece.
Then there is Kong. I think they could have spent a bit more time developing Kong, partly as a character and partly as an animation. The CGI was pretty good, but his proportions looked wrong and his motions were wooden.
Anyway, I think there was just too much going on, and not enough time for this movie to be really good. I think it could have been an excellent mini-series, or TV season. As it is, it's an okay movie, that is fun if you go in with a low-bar. 6/10, so I enjoyed it, but not enough.