Monday, March 13, 2017

[Review] Kong: Skull Island

Have you heard the news? Kong: Skull Island is a colossal mountain of chest-pounding fun.

The plot for this encounter with the iconic beast is fairly straightforward: A group of soldiers, scientists, and documentarians head out to uncharted territory--the ominous Skull Island, where King Kong rules. And mayhem ensues. Along for the journey is a stacked cast: John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Shea Whigham, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The film has an energetic and throwback vibe, enthusiastically recalling campy monster movies of the past and classic war films like Apocalypse Now. When the crew's helicopters first fly over the island, I was half-expecting the Jurassic Park theme to start playing (there's even a crowd-pleasing Easter egg that Samuel L. Jackson delivers). The lush, exotic, and monstrous visuals combined with the wily kinetic camerawork makes this a highly immersive experience. And as well-crafted as an adventure spectacle this is, it never takes itself too seriously. In fact, it's really funny and full of humorous one-liners and apeshit setpieces--like Tom Hiddleston sprinting through a volcanic pit while slicing vicious winged creatures with a katana in slow-motion. The highlight of the cast and surefire favorite is John C. Reilly, as he impeccably plays a kooky but wise longtime resident of the island.

But of course the real star is Kong in all his roaring power, tremendously large scale, and impressive CGI glory. He's a friend if you treat him well, a pulverizing foe if you mess with his home. Other creatures join the party too, like yaks the size of dinosaurs, hair-raising spiders, and nasty lizard-like predators who John C. Reilly's character calls "skull crawlers", or at least until he realizes that name sounds stupid out loud.

Make no mistake, this is the type of film where you specifically come to see King Kong rip a giant octopus apart, and you get exactly that--and then some. Kong: Skull Island isn't a blockbuster--it's an earth-buster... Sorry, that sounded better in my head.

* 8.5/10 *

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