Gettin' around on Skull Island

Mar 10, 2017, 00:38

King Kong is returning to our screens this week, in Jordan Vogt-Roberts's reboot Kong: Skull Island. He takes the material seriously, but he doesn't weigh the movie down with self-importance, and he never forgets that pictures about enormous prehistoric monsters fighting each other are supposed to be, you know, fun. And while for critics and higher brow viewers alike, withholding the monster artfully is the only way to go, I can't help but want my creature feature goodness weird, gory and up close and personal.

Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, said "Skull Island" could expect to gross upwards of US$50 million in its opening weekend, enough perhaps to topple hit "X-Men" spin-off "Logan", Hugh Jackman's final movie as the X-Men mutant Wolverine.

"This film is contained within the normal two hour time frame".

The way director Jordan Vogt-Roberts shot the film will remind you of the Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now" with its color palette and production design, which is fitting considering "Kong: Skull Island" takes place days after the United States removed itself from the conflict.

Along with great visual effects, a good monster movie also needs great action.

Brisk, too. "Kong: Skull Island" clocks in at 115 minutes, a rarity in an era in which filmmakers seem to think longer is always better (the upcoming "The Fate of the Furious", aka "Fast and Furious 8", runs a whopping two hours and 40 minutes, which is longer than "2001: A Space Odyssey", and that was a movie about the evolution of mankind from apes to space travelers).

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For all his size and strength, much of Kong's appeal as a misunderstood anti-hero rests in his deep-set simian eyes, by turns angry, haunted and even loving.

This is an area where the 2014 version of "Godzilla" fell flat. I'm not saying the movie is a comedy, but it has its fair share of laughs and gives the movie a tone and rhythm that makes it both fun and amusing.

The comic relief is provided by John C. Reilly's deliciously impish portrayal of half-crazed World War II pilot Hank Marlow, who has been marooned on the island for 29 years.

As you can imagine, Reilly's character is borderline insane after spending decades on the monster-filled island, but he's a kind hearted fly boy who's still stuck in the '40s and has knowledge for days on combating man-eating monsters. A sequence in which military helicopters square off against Kong is a wonderful piece of deft, old-school movie-making.

Brie Larson at the "Kong Skull" premiere in Los Angeles on March 8.

The film is rated R for brutal bloody violence, strong sexual content including disturbing behavior, graphic nudity and language.