Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Kong expresses his opinion of this movie
(2017). Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

A prologue set in 1944 shows two soldiers -- one Japanese, one American -- fighting on Skull Island until King Kong (or at least his paws) interrupts. Thirty years later an expedition is going to Skull Island for resources, and it's quite awhile until the title character shows up in all of his glory. Sergeant Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) wants to blow Kong away for destroying many of his men, but others argue that Kong protects the natives on the island from much worse monsters. While the two opposing camps try to persuade the other, they must fight off all manner of hungry and horrible creatures. This reboot of Kong is more successful than the most recent Godzilla, but despite some outstanding special effects -- and an impressive leading man in Kong -- the movie just lacks that certain sense of wonder. Having the trip to Skull Island be a military operation sort of strips it of romance, and Kong: Skull Island is merely another loud, cold-blooded (if not necessarily more cold-blooded than the original King Kong), slick, forgettable, modern-day monster flick with a typically flip, often cutesy approach and a mediocre screenplay. The actors are competent enough, but they are pretty much lost in a sea of FX, and sympathetic characters get dismissed even as they're eaten. Kong is much, much bigger in this than he was in the 1933 film, and his climactic battle with a huge reptilian creature -- not to mention the post-credit epilogue that most people didn't wait around in the theater to see -- suggests there may be a remake of King Kong vs Godzilla in the offing. Despite all the action, the movie has slow stretches, and not just in the first quarter. The two best scenes in the movie have nothing to do with Kong at all: the soldiers are attacked by a humongous and deadly tree spider; and a touching coda involving the surviving WW2 sailor from the prologue as he returns home to his family. As the guide and nominal hero of the piece, Tom Hidddleston makes much less of an impression than he does as the villainous Loki in Thor.

Verdict: The original King Kong is still the best and likely to remain so. **1/2.

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