Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★★

Crazy, dumb fun for all. You wouldn't think a film like this would be entertaining. Its characters are weak, the dialogue is laughably bad, there's much tonal dissonance all throughout. However, this film finds a way to make it work.

Kong: Skull Island is shining example of the return of monster movies. Yes, 2014's GODZILLA rejuvenated the genre, but this cements it back in place. Jordan Vogt-Roberts's insane directing is to be commended. From indie filmmaker to franchise tentpole director, this was quite a risk, and it payed off very well. The action is well-done, the quiet moments are warranted, and the CGI (especially on Kong himself) is quite good. And, at least they didn't remake KING KONG; it's a fresh story that's very reminiscent of 70s films. The inspiration from APOCALYPSE NOW is obvious, but there's also great motifs taken from such films as MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, GODZILLA (2014), and even the original KING KONG. It pays respect to what has been done already, while moving forward with new ideas.

What mainly works about this movie is Kong, obviously. They do him very well, making him large and in charge once again. The humanization is left over from Peter Jackson's KING KONG, but it works here as well. The shot of his silhouette against the sunrise/sunset is always breathtaking, and I love that he's not the villain in this. Again, very refreshing. The second-best part is the cinematography, shot by the legendary Larry Fong. It's so beautiful, colorful, and eye-catching. The best use of it is in a very special sequence in the middle of the film (and I won't spoil it!). The actors do well with what they're given, even if most of them are excuses to be killed off by the various monsters. Hiddleston, Larson, Reilly, and Jackson all carry this film well. Jackson in particular turns in a crazy performance, reminiscent of Marlon Brando in APOCALYPSE NOW. The dialogue has a few good moments, but overall is not as great as it could have been. However, the final battle between Kong and the Alpha Skullcrawler is enthralling and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Even the rock 'n' roll soundtrack seems to embrace this crazy fun ideology. An awesome post-credits scene at the very end of the film sets up the future of this new series, and gets you completely hyped for what's to come. Monster films are definitely back.

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