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Review: Kong: Skull Island

Score: B

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

“I’m going to need a military escort.”

Tackling an original story that showcases a new look at the origins of the giant ape that climbs the Empire State Building, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts had an uphill battle from the get go.  Peter Jackson’s horrific 2005 remake was still fresh in many minds, and the storyline left a bit to be desired as many questioned whether lightening could strike twice and we could realistically get a destructive thriller in the vein of Garth Edwards’ Godzilla.

In short, yes we can - kinda.

Boasting an impressive cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, Vogt-Roberts’ film successfully incorporates action, adventure, humor and violence as he rebrands the towering ape that bears an unusually tender heart for the female form.  But too much reliance on the cast, along with a hesitation to veer too far away from the original story hinders the narrative.

In a nutshell Skull Island is unable to blend the many genres seamlessly.  Vogt-Roberts’ systematic approach doubles as a checklist as you feel the story is being told in chapters - in a sense bearing edits that provide cuts that would correspond well for commercial breaks during its forthcoming TBS broadcast premiere.

The visuals are purely magnificent, as is the CGI ape that we call Kong.  The creativity that has gone into the intricate details that ultimately embody the world where “Kong is God” is masterful as our survivors attempt to navigate the terrain and battle the elements (and beasts) that live there.

But the film speeds through each creatures’ introduction too quickly.  Rather than allowing viewers to fully process the events Vogt-Roberts opts to play the shock card.  The quick in quick out does assist in keeping the story moving, but it fails to highlight the sophistication that has gone into each of these beings.  Their features and abilities, most of which is a result of adaptation, is ridiculously complex.  But instead of witnessing the marvel we get a three minute sneak peek that leaves us a bit disappointed.

In regard to its humor Skull Island does excels on its comedic undertone.  Though John C. Reilly is meant to be the main source of laughs, the story’s ability to jab at itself helps to keep the drama at bay.  The cliché moments can be swallowed a bit easier when they stem from a series of gimmicks that bring forth a run of chuckles from the audience - the story does center around a giant ape after all.

Oh, stay after the credits.  It’s a doozy.

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About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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