King Kong is back roaring on our screens with the new movie Kong: Skull Island. The movie is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose indie flick Kings of Summer was a critics darling in 2015. Kong: Skull Island will bring King Kong into the new cinematic universe that Legendary Studios are planning after they started off with Godzilla in 2014. The movie stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, John C Reilly, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell etc. And of course, tonnes of new creatures for King Kong to fight and for the humans to get devoured by.
The movie has been getting pretty mixed reviews, with some praising its visual flair, but others deriding its old premise and its stock human characters. Here are some of the reviews...
"Ultimately, the focus on CGI monster attacks pushes the characters too far into the corners of the story. And Kong’s alone time only features monster battles, so there’s no extra heft afforded to the King. So even though Skull Island features some truly breathtaking moments that incorporate the elements that everyone loved in Godzilla—the tense, still and smoky seconds where an unseen monster lurks (cinematographer Larry Fong deserves a shout-out; as does a particular ingenious use of a malfunctioning camera flash)—it feels like a movie that was made in a focus group chemist lab and never solidifies an identity. Like Kong himself, this film is big and polished but it lacks a distinct personality."
"All the monsters, though, are missed when they’re not around, even the weirdly cute insecty thing that hides as a downed tree. They tend to be much more watchable than soldiers hanging out listening to '70s rock. Kong still commands respect when he’s unleashed upon cinemas, and even in limited action, his presence alone makes it worth a trip to Skull Island."
"The script by Dan Gilroy ("Nightcrawler"), Derek Connolly ("Safety Not Guaranteed") and Max Borenstein ("Godzilla") handles the character introductions with unusual finesse, and I loved details such as the Nixon bobblehead parked on the helicopter control panel, indicating the difficulty of flying through "perpetual storm system" to get to paradise/hell, aka Skull Island. I don't want to blow all the surprises here. It's enough to say that the Goodman character is famous for his controversial "hollow Earth theory" and specializes in the study of "massive unidentified terrestrial organisms." "
"What lifts Kong: Skull Island from the swamp of clichés is the action. Every kind of creature – from giant lizards and spiders to gargantuan water buffalo – steps up for a go at the ape. Visual effects supervisors Stephen Rosenbaum and Jeff White do themselves proud, and the big guy himself is a wonder, seemingly always ready for his close-up. He's also the real hero of the piece, the one who's protecting the island from these prehistoric weapons of mass destruction. The effects are way cool and thunderously exciting. And really, what else do you need to know? Grab your popcorn and strap in for the ride."
"Skull Island” is adept at goosing you; it deploys action-movie feints and horror-film frights capably amid its clichés and deaths. Every so often it also pauses and allows Kong and Mason to move you. As each recognizes the other, they bridge the divide, but perhaps because their relationship is more empathetic than romantic, these encounters don’t have the resonance they should. Alas, beauty no longer has her beast, the beast no longer has his beauty and this darkness has no heart even if it will have a sequel."
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