“Kong: Skull Island”
Release Date: March 10, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief strong language)
Kong is king at the box office. The film, “Kong: Skull Island,” dominated during its opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $61 million domestically and beating projections, as well as its competition.
While my expectations were admittedly quite low, I actually found myself enjoying the film, despite its mostly banal dialogue, which I took more as an homage to the classic, rather cheesy monster flicks we’ve come to know and love that have replayed on late night television for decades.
That’s not to say that the screenplay, co-written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly, doesn’t have merit. The story is well crafted (and certainly benefits from so much of its audience being very familiar with the character), offering a bit of humor with the horror. Setting the story in the post-Vietnam War era of the early 1970s also adds a nice twist.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts keeps the pacing appropriate, and the look of the film is spectacular, largely due to beautiful cinematography by Larry Fong, director of photography; and the production design by Stefan Dechant.
“Kong: Skull Island” also features a strong cast of players, including the likeable Tom Hiddleston, stalwart Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Brie Larson, whose Oscar-winning talents are not evident here as her role as a photo journalist is largely reduced to facial expressions of disbelief (think Laura Dern in “Jurassic Park,” only not quite that bad). But it is actor John C. Reilly in a supporting role that is most memorable, portraying a World War II veteran who appears to be one banana shy of a full bunch but who has lived to tell the tale of the great ape.
As reported in the industry trade publication Variety, “Kong: Skull Island” is the second installment in a planned “monster franchise.” The first chapter was 2014’s “Godzilla,” and there are plans next for a King Kong versus Godzilla showdown that is strongly hinted at if you stay with this film through its closing credits.
If the next installment is as entertaining as this one, count me in.